Hollard Life is one of Ghana’s leading Insurance organizations. HR Focus had a conversation with the Head of People, Mr. George Kofi Panford to understand how their HR management team works. It was an eye-opening conversation; this is what we learnt.
Hollard has built a culture that is open and youthful. They have a saying that goes, “we do not take ourselves seriously but we take the work we do very seriously”. As an organization, they involve their people in everything they do. Employee engagement is priority to them, as there is little value in instituting systems that the people can neither see nor feel. To them, there is always an aspect of business which belongs to the employees.
In an effort to build their employer brand, Hollard prioritizes good communication and employee engagement. Mr. Panford says, “We let them know about the journey so far, where we have gotten to and how they share in whatever we do.”
Further, they work towards building their employer brand by engaging students in schools. There, they share their values, products and services to them. They ensure that their people know the future of the business and that the organization considers them as part of their business.
Hollard’s HR team prides themselves in not having just one employee value proposition. However, in summary, they exhibit that their employees’ future is important to them. They do not just offer a good health system now, but even had it in effect before COVID-19 hit. They also have a system of flexible work hours that makes working more comfortable for their people. For Hollard, they hope their employees understand that they have a secure future once they join their team.
HR Leadership the Hollard Way
Mr. George Panford runs his ship in a hands-on manner. Beyond his open-door policy and constant employee engagement, believes that HR does not need only a representation on the leadership structure, but the employees should feel your presence and get what they need from the HR team. In his own words, he says: “You cannot do HR by sitting in an office, flying emails and sending memos. We are constantly with the team leaders, the employees, asking questions and getting feedback.”
Due to Hollard’s youthful team, there is a lot of importance placed on development and training. No matter your level of qualification when you enter Hollard, it is the HR team’s priority to ensure that the employee has experienced a substantial level of growth.
Further, the work culture at Hollard is very key, ensuring that their people have a conducive environment for them to work and experience wellness. Their flexi-hour schedule allows them to accommodate the pressures of their lives outside of work, while delivering their best on the job. That way, employees do not need to choose work over family or vice versa. Instead, they create a system of balance that works well for them. Though many organisations struggled during the pandemic, the HR team equipped their people so well that, they not only met their annual target, but exceeded it. They had to make quick changes in the form of; getting laptops for people who worked with desktop computers, providing modems for effective internet connectivity, and having a psychologist on standby to assist and engage the employees who were going through some form of difficulties. In spite of the uncertainties and the lockdown period, they managed to continually pay salaries and apply the annual salary increases. COVID-19 tests were covered by the organisation, and proper communication about the virus and the team’s effort to ensure the safety and comfort of their staff. In his own words, he said, “It was the communication that helped us. Our employees knowing that we were willing to support them in the process actually motivated them”.
Hollard’s unique people strategy is one that has been proved to be successful over the past few years. It is one where they are constantly engaging their employees, and making them feel, see and understand just how important they are to the organisation. They have a standard set internally that ensures that their people are actively responding. Once they gather feedback, it is assessed and varied in a way that can be implemented to satisfy as many individuals as possible.
His Leadership; George Panford:
Since the beginning of his HR profession, one of his greatest achievements has been concerning his teams and the people he has worked with. For him, devotion to the work and the positive feedback from his people tells him he is doing a great job. Specific to Hollard, one great achievement was successfully transitioning from metropolitan insurance into Hollard. It was a new culture, with people who knew different business philosophies, and having to integrate them into the Hollard process. Being part of the team that made that transition successful is something he is proud of.
On a larger scope, one thing he would hope to impact the world of work and the HR Community, is the willingness to share. According to Mr. Panford, he has noticed that HR practitioners are tight-lipped about a lot of their policies, processes, etc. It will be helpful for the newer HR practitioners, for example to have a central point of information that will be useful for their execution. As the Head of People at Hollard, he intends to spend the next three years automating all HR Processes. He intends to incorporate technology in the HR process in a way that will make life easier for both the HR business partners and the members of staff at Hollard.
As an organization that has been awarded top employer for three years running, they still have higher standards they ascribe to. They envision a work environment where employees struggle to find a problem with the system and culture. To them, that is their final destination. Until then, “there is a lot of work that needs to be done, and we are working hard at it”.