Crafting a dynamic workplace

Adobe's head of employee experience says enabling great team cultures is key to business continuity

Crafting a dynamic workplace

This article was produced in partnership with Adobe.

When Adobe executive Sarah Dunn thinks about the role of human resources over her career, she notes the role’s transformation into a critical enabler of the business.

No longer a corporate division vying for a voice, the Adobe Head of Employee Experience for Asia Pacific says the human resources role has become integral to corporate operations.

“The whole dynamic of the HR profession has changed,” she said.

“Over the years there was a lot of discussion around HR professionals having a seat at the table [and] being partners in the business in terms of how they worked to accelerate business performance and growth.

“HR is now really at the forefront of enabling business continuity.”

The dynamism of human resources has come to the fore over the last two years. Recently human resources professionals have overseen the dramatic shift to the digital-first flexibility working culture, coupled with

work-from-home operations. And the necessity to deal with change shows no signs of abating in 2022.

Now, creating frameworks for teams and individuals to succeed in diverse settings is key to corporate success. All this change, Ms Dunn says, means the role of the human resources professional requires more resilience, forward-thinking ability, and operational excellence than ever before.

“The environment we’re in is just so dynamic,” she says.

“You are having to look ahead at the same time as being able to iterate and engage with the executive team regularly - more regularly than in the past.

“There is no playbook on ‘This has happened before and these are the things we should be doing’.

That’s why having that strength of relationship with the leadership team is so important, because that dialogue needs to continue.”

Amid the ongoing pandemic disruption to people’s working and personal lives, Ms Dunn points to workers’ “expectation gap” as a significant challenge for the year ahead.

After 18 months of disruption, many people thought the world of work would return to a new normal - still different perhaps but more stable.

Instead, along came Omicron and a return to work-from-home arrangements.

“At the end of FY21, there was a real expectation that FY22 was going to be different,” she says.

“The reality of it being different hasn’t been met, so the expectation and mindset piece will be a challenge for us in FY22.

“Although there has been a focus on health and wellbeing, I think that’s the area that’s going to be something that the profession is really going to need to focus on, and being able to change progress and initiatives to meet the needs of the business and people.”

For Adobe, this means doubling down on their digital strategies, internal communications and team engagement strategies.

On a day-to-day level the company seeks to empower teams to determine how and why they work best, and allow them to build that environment.

There are Adobe Site Councils where people can raise issues that are important to them at a local level, and “all-hands sessions” where everyone can have a voice.

“What is going to be important is achieving improved employee wellbeing and engagement and productivity and success for the organisation.

“As we know it is going to be in a digital world. Adobe is about changing the world in digital experiences. What better opportunity do we have in terms of positive social impact, being able to spur our citizens to help customers change their impact. It has never been more relevant.”

Sarah Dunn is the Head of Employee Experience, Adobe Asia Pacific. From attracting the best talent to Adobe Asia Pacific to passionately steering employee experience initiatives, Sarah pushes the boundaries when it comes to introducing innovative practices to support career growth. Sarah has introduced channels that enable employees to hone their creative spirits, opportunities to enhance and explore new areas of education, as well as encourage better work-life balance. She has played an instrumental role in fostering strategies that create an inspiring and inclusive workplace supportive of all employees and their families, such as Adobe’s enhanced annual and parental leave benefits. Her specialties include executive-level HR Business Partnering, employee engagement, workforce transformation, talent acquisition and leadership development.

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