Without a solid corporate culture of employee engagement and innovation, an organisation is unlikely to achieve sustainable growth, an HR-focused conference in China has been told.

At the Leading into 2020 conference held in Shanghai by coaching service provider MindSpan, David Schoch, president of Ford Motor Company Asia Pacific, was among the speakers. “A high engagement organisation is a vibrant organisation,” he said. “You feel the energy, and people want to come in to work. They understand their mission and the value of themselves.”

His view was echoed by Kevin Xu, CEO of China operations for Arvato, the German B2B service provider. “People also like to share with each other in a high engagement company. They are more responsive, showing more tolerance for mistakes,” Xu said.

By contrast, in a low-engagement organisation, “you don’t get the response you want, you have to push people to speak out, yet there is lots of talk behind your back,” Xu added. How to nurture a high engagement environment? Ford’s Schoch said trust, respect, empowerment and the tolerance for mistakes all play key roles.

“It is important to create and maintain an environment in the company for employees to input ideas and enjoy their work. Also, you need to give them opportunities to make mistakes, because you learn from mistakes,” he said.

As communication technologies continue to evolve in the next few years to allow flexible, remote work styles, “it’s getting more important to create and keep a high-engagement environment,” Schoch added.

Aside from highly engaged employees, new ideas and practices are also required to keep an organisation moving forward, no matter which sector it is in.

Some organisations may see investment as a quick way to bring in diversity and innovation. Take the German engineering giant Bosch. It has invested outside its core manufacturing businesses, including a Shanghai-based startup which makes scooters, said Lennart De Vet, vice president of Bosch Power Tools for emerging markets.

“A large part of our company is in the traditional manufacturing sector. However, in this fast changing market propelled by new technologies we have to invest in new ideas and technologies,” De Vet said.

To keep innovative talents working with Bosch, De Vet said his company tended to let them work independently on their own projects, but with the resources provided by Bosch.

“The reason we prefer a partnership or a collaboration rather than hiring these innovative talents is that we think our existing structure might not work well with them,” De Vet said.

And where companies prefer growing their own innovative culture, one key tactic is ensuring jobs are demanding and interesting. “I usually set up impossible missions for my team…like a startup,” said Yommei Yanagiba, CEO of GE Capital Industrial Finance China. If projects are “too easy, people won’t have the motivation to work hard on them,” she warned.

Yanagiba said her way of keeping innovative talent is to know her staff well and match their ambitions with work tasks: “See him as an individual and get to know him. Show him that his passions are supported at work,” she suggested.

Media Centre

If you’re a journalist or member of the press looking for more information or to speak to one of our experts, please contact our press team. 

Callout Image

Championing better work and working lives

About the CIPD

At the CIPD, we champion better work and working lives. We help organisations to thrive by focusing on their people, supporting economies and society for the future. We lead debate as the voice for everyone wanting a better world of work.