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Winning Secrets: How Sinar Mas Mining grew productivity by 30% by focusing on wellbeing

Sinar Mas Mining took home several awards at the HR Excellence Awards 2021, Indonesia, namely:

  • Gold for 'Excellence in Learning and Development',

  • Silver for 'Excellence in Total Rewards Strategy',

  • Silver for 'Excellence in Workplace Wellbeing',

  • Silver for 'HR Leader of the Year - P. Swasono Satyo', and

  • Bronze for 'Excellence in HR Team Collaboration'.

In this interview, we speak to award-winning HR leader P.Swasono Satyo, Chief Human Resources Officer, Sinar Mas Mining, who tells us about the game-changing initiatives he and his team are spearheading to remain competitive in the market, attract potential talent as well as retain top talent.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your journey reaching here – how did you get here and what was most important to you during this process?

As one of the fastest-growing mining groups that started the transformation journey back in 2006, Sinar Mas Mining (SMM) has the vision to become among the world’s most respected technology-based group companies focusing not only on energy and mining, but also on digital financial, new business ventures, and lifestyle.

To achieve exponential growth, SMM has two strategies: Organic and inorganic business strategies. The organic business has been achieved by maintaining sustainability of mining business sectors, while growing inorganically through mergers & acquisitions of new businesses ventures. Our business performance has grown 10x from $200mn to $2bn from 2006 to 2016, and now we aim for another 10x growth by 2026.

We realise that digitalisation should lie at the heart of our organisation’s culture. This is the most important thing for us. With technology underlying almost every aspect of our business, we use the data captured to see exactly what’s happening in our organisation and use that information to make our business more agile.

Q: What would you list as your company’s most meaningful contribution to employees in the last 12-18 months?

Our employees' health means the most to us. We felt the need to make the vaccination programme successful. We provided full coverage for hospital treatment to those who were exposed to the virus. Also, for those who were isolated at home, we sent them a doctor, first aid, telemedicine, and even a private ambulance. Even before the pandemic started, we delivered a flu shot to all our employees.

Thankfully, those initiatives returned to us a remarkable impact where our productivity grew by 30%. We also managed to create 18% new leaders at the managerial level through development programmes, and 21% (or 62) of our C-level positions were fulfilled by internal resources in 2021. In the same year, we developed three-four new businesses, like P2P lending & payment, cryptocurrency, global stocks, pharmacy, and petrochemical.

Additionally, our global talent mobility programme was our extensive endeavour to create and retain the best talent, as we rotate them to work across borders in Australia, Africa, ASEAN, and North Asia.

Q: What are some challenges you've had to overcome, both as a CHRO and as a people leader, and how did you get past them? What was your biggest learning?

The challenges are, to remain competitive in the market, attract potential talent as well as retain our talent; especially the STEM (science, tech, engineering, math) talent as our future businesses are going forward in those areas.

We put together the HR digitalisation roadmap to drive digitalisation and automation by leveraging best-in-class partners. Some of innovations certainly involved streamlining our data, integrating our technology, deploying robotic process automation (RPA) to our business processes, and leveraging analytics to drive faster data-driven decision making.

Additionally, we developed our strategy to expedite this transformation and set up a holacracy-style agile team working diligently. Implementing a holacracy organisational structure would be the biggest learning for all of us at SMM because no one ever again works on just their own domain, but must be agile enough to work on another domain, not only across jobs but even industries. This gives us new learning every day!

Q: Onwards and upwards! Can you share some highlights of your year ahead in 2022, and what your workforce can look forward to?

For the next few quarters, the focus will be on resource optimisation and allocation. We will reallocate thousands of our employees to around 100 companies, either locally, regionally, or globally through our 'Superjobs' practice, whereby powered by the HR cloud digital landscape, technology, and AI analytics, all of them will serve the group corporation.

Meanwhile, we’re going to accelerate our existing high-priority projects, another digital transformation initiative, and will implement all of this for further development of the corporate strategy.

In addition, we’ll continue our focus on transforming task workers to knowledge workers for their professional development and prepare them for always being in 'pursuit of excellence', like the 'citius, altius, fortius' motto, to be faster, higher, stronger!

Q: Bring out your crystal ball - 10 years down the line, where do you see the future of HR?

I see HR will be positioned as a value creator in the organisation and all HR functions will be on automation. HR will provide top management or group corporate with strategic, actionable advice through, for example, the power of AI, big data, HR cloud, and prescriptive analysis. Automation technology will help HR to forecast people attrition, provide a holistic talent pipeline, discover top exit risk attributions of talents, and the entire HR journey from talent acquisition, performance management, payroll, compensation & benefit, talent development, workforce analytics to the next career transition.

I also believe in the funnel of the employee journey going forward, where a real human connection and experience will still lie at the core. However, HR will collaborate a lot with futuristic tech-based enablers like robots and machine learning; while the human resource will be more analytical, from prescriptive to cognitive, and digital transformation will continue its journey forward.

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