Samsung’s Change Champions Make a Youthful Impact on Employee Productivity

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Last year, when all of Gurugram’s corporate world was busy discussing the massive Gurujam that left thousands stranded on the road for over 20 hours the previous evening, a sprightly group of Change Champions at Samsung’s corporate headquarters in the Millennium City sat huddled together.



Several of their colleagues, and many of them too had a torrid time because of the jam and they had an inkling of a repeat. The 16 Change Champions decided they had to do something and communicated their concern to the management, suggesting buses leave early at 4 pm that day to beat traffic.



“The HR and management reciprocated positively to our suggestion,” recalls Ms. Sakshi Anand, 36, Change Champion for the corporate marketing team at Samsung India.



In 2016, 120 young Change Champions across the country were nominated by business heads and tasked with enhancing engagement levels within their teams, making the workplace more exciting for employees. They were to be the ‘voice of the employee’ to the management, understand the issues and challenges of employees in their locations and find solutions.



“The idea was to give opportunity to young employees who showed an ability to managing conflict, build strong relationships based on trust, manage resistance when required and are self-driven. They have been able to drive engagement across teams,” says Mr. Arnav Agarwal, director HR at Samsung India. “This is an opportunity for them to demonstrate their leadership abilities and help create new leaders also.”



In 2016, these Change Champions conducted over 175 activities that involved sports, knowledge sharing sessions, team work exercises, and yoga and health sessions.



Ms Pallavi Wahi, Change Champion for the Corporate Relations Office feels such activities have the power to bring employees from across cross functional teams together. “And that shows in the productivity of the team as well. It’s definitely risen. We can feel it here,” she says.



Samsung’s Employees after a Kabaddi Session organised by a Change Champion



Since the program began, she has seen a perceptible difference in bonding and bonhomie among team members. A few months back, she organized a Sports Day, where teams played games such as Kabaddi and Pitthu (7-stone), which many might have played back in their childhood. On another day, individuals in the team sat and shared experiences from their school and college days and how these experiences helped shape them as individuals.



Samsung Employees engaged in some Pitthu action


At the corporate marketing team, Ms. Anand organized a nature photography day where team members came together to click photos with their Samsung phones and sent them in. A jury selected the best photos and Chief Marketing Officer Mr. Ranjivjit Singh gave the prizes away.



The team recently went out for a paintball competition, an activity suggested by the team members themselves.



Samsung Employees at the Paintball Competition



“I can see it now. Everyone in the team is so charged up,” says Ms. Anand. She has been with Samsung for 12 years now and has seen a huge change in the way teams operate over the years, especially since the Change Champion program kicked in.



An invisible yet palpable thing that happens at these Change Champion events is that barriers between teams and top leadership get broken.



Employees all set for some paint ball action



“We have 70,000 employees, 2 manufacturing plants, 5 R&D centres in India. Success of being the most admired Brand comes when each of these employees understand the business closely and participate in this success in an ever dynamic market. Each of us at Samsung bring smiles to millions of consumers across India, these Change Champions have volunteered to bringing smiles to our employees and emerging as catalysts of cross functional engagement,” said Mr. Raju Pullan, Vice President, Mobile Business, Samsung India.



When Mr. D Vedyanayagam, who is part of the mobile team at Samsung in Chennai was made a Change Champion, his first thought was to improve the level of collaboration at the work place. He wanted to find a way to get people from across teams together, strengthening bonds, bring people closer.



Mr. Vedyanayagam is the Change Champion for the mobile team but decided along with Change Champions of other teams—Mr. P Karthik, Mr. V Krishna Chaitanya and Mr. Balaji Vellanki—that it would be better to include all teams in activities they plan for employees in Chennai.



One of the first activities that they organized as a Change Champion was the stay fit contest. Employees from the mobile team as well as from the consumer electronics, finance, accounts and other teams were invited to participate and were encouraged to lose weight and become a fitter version of themselves.



A Change Champion at Samsung’s Chennai Branch recently organised a Futsal Competition



To help them, the Change Champions called in a dietician, a gym trainer, a Zumba trainer and a yoga instructor for one-day sessions. “The teams loved it,” he recalls.



The Change Champions in Chennai have since organized a laughter contest, a traditional games competition and a go karting event as well.



“Personal relations, and because of that, business relations between colleagues has improved for sure,” says Mr. Vedyanayagam.



Mr. Agarwal says this has had an overall positive impact on employees. “They have a person in their team to talk to about their issues. It is a feel good point for them,” he says. “This has had a bigger impact on teams in smaller cities and centres.”



At Samsung offices across the country, employees have reported being able to manage their work-related stress better, better work-life balance, improved team dynamics, higher level of creativity and positive outcomes, mutual respect between colleagues, and a strong bond with immediate managers due to the workplace environment created by Change Champions.

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