Remote-first approach a game changer for GrowthOps

'We've got a high trust environment that allows people to choose how and where they work their best,' says head of HR

Remote-first approach a game changer for GrowthOps

Operating on a ‘remote-first’ approach has been a real game changer for GrowthOps, according to Louise Hope, chief people experience officer.

“We’ve really attracted and retained some of the best talent in APAC because we’ve got a high trust environment that allows people to choose how and where they work their best,” says Hope, who recently spoke with HRD Australia.

The organisation has 450 staff working in six brands across Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and the Philippines.

“What we say is that home is your first office, but you're more than welcome to visit any of the offices and be a part of [those] offices [if] you want to be. We also invite our clients to come into those offices as well.”

Start-up approach to HR strategy

Hope says the approach to HR has been very much comparable to that of a start-up because the formation of GrowthOps involved combining a number of companies in 2018.

Key to the strategy adopted has been gaining feedback regarding what people themselves really want.

“There has been a lot of work from 2018 to last year, really in bringing the teams together and setting up that start-up mentality,” she says she says, in a video interview with HRD. “So the people first and the HR stuff we were doing quite tactically up until about a year and a half ago. And really, the key to the strategy has been listening to people around what it is that they want from their people experience.”

There’ve been some core aspects to ensuring a clear engagement strategy, says Hope. This includes an annual survey to establish where things are going well and also where improvements can be made.

“We don't just settle for the results, though once they come, we actually then go into workshops with each of the different teams and agencies to really understand ‘What are we doing well?”

Engagement survey feedback: professional development highly valued

The improvements made are prioritised as a result of the findings, and over the last couple of years have included cross-unit collaboration, communication and leadership.

Taking action in response to feedback also means “people feel like they own some of the initiatives that are happening within the organization, and that they can provide feedback as to where things are going and how things could be improved,” says Hope.

Feedback regarding the value of professional development also helped spark the launch of the organisation’s GO Academy in July 2022, with investment in external workshops and masterclasses led by peers.

“We also wanted it to help us achieve connection across the group, to help de-silo the regions,” she says.

As part of the GO Academy, the organisation is also about to run its first ever talent development progamme pilot, which all staff will experience. It involves bringing together a raft of initiatives designed to support people through every stage of their work.

“I can’t stress enough how much it’s been shaped by the conversations we’ve been having with staff and what they want to see and what would be helpful in their career,” she says.

Developing EVP priority

Developing EVP in consultation with staff has also been a priority for Hope. Results from surveys show employees most value career growth, professional development, flexibility and support in wellbeing.

“I love an EVP that really considers people as a whole human being, not just a resource or a skill set that can be applied to an organisation, she says.

This is especially important in creative industries and GrowthOps is essentially a creative organisation, says Hope, delivering business growth through creative advertising and marketing, innovative martech and people capability initiatives. 

As a ‘remote first’ organisation, it’s also been important to embed “conscious culture” practises, she says. This has involved “consciously making time to bring teams and people together across the group for social occasions, learning occasions, and really to build strong relationships and share information.” 

While Hope says she’s been lucky to have had board-level support in HR initiatives towards employee engagement, being prepared to be accepting of feedback from the board is also important.

“You need their buy-in so if they want to tweak it, and if it doesn't materially alter what it is that you're trying to achieve, then let them. Just as much as we let staff shape what some of our initiatives look like, let the board shape what some of those initiatives look like so that they feel as though they really own it, and that they’ve really bought into it.” 

Advice to emerging practitioners

Her advice to other emerging HR practitioners is to grab any opportunities with both hands.

“I have had two brilliant organisational development HR leaders who gave me the opportunity to run with and lead on key strategic projects - literally things I'd never done before,” says Hope, who appreciated this as a chance to extend herself and investigate innovative solutions.

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