Empowering Line Managers To Sustain An Employee Experience Initiative

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By Gary Flood, Senior Journalist, The HR Congress


When it comes to EX, what’s the key job title in the org chart? Based on the experiences of EX drivers of change at a major global firm in the middle of a major pivot away from its own history—and so amid profound change and needing huge buy-in from literally everyone—it’s the line manager, not the CHRO.

Magali Demierre, Global Head of EX at Philip Morris International

That’s the firm belief of EX expert Magali Demierre, who is now the Global Head of Employee Experience at one of the world’s biggest tobacco firms, Philip Morris International (PMI).

Demierre told delegates at last November’s very well-attended virtual HR Congress World Summit about her team’s experiences around supporting line managers, which has been ongoing since 2019.

Specifically, at her organization, Philip Morris International, HR has been making mindful contributions to bettering EX for the global giant’s 70,000 staff since 2019.

Her reasoning seems pretty sound for this focus. “As an employee, the most critical interactions you have are with your line managers in the moments that matter,” she says in her online presentation.

“Your immediate manager is the one who’s onboarding you, he or she is the one who’s providing you clarity on your objectives, assessing your yearly performance, recognizing your achievement, supporting your career trajectory and finally even potentially managing your exit,” she says.

Clearly a crucial stakeholder in EX, then—and PMI’s HR function, which is interestingly called ‘People And Culture’ internally, has created several practical tools to help, which are delivered through a special online tool, the Line Managers Playbook.

These center on a range of bespoke eLearning modules, such as ‘I manage performance,’ ‘‘I reward and recognize’ and ‘I support my team’s wellbeing.’

But Magali was insistent that there’s no point in writing such material until you really have the information base to support your thinking and guidance.

“It’s not just conducting surveys,” she says.

“We knew we needed to put a system in place to listen, understand and most importantly to support to act our employees. Gathering employee feedback always must be EX’s starting point.”

Doing EX right could make you 5x better at retaining staff

In her case study, Magali produced a lot of practical guidance like this—including suggestions on how best to use (and at what frequency) employee survey data.

She also shares some key numbers around the difference EX makes to the bottom line you might find useful for building an EX program business case along PMI’s lines, such as the fact that organizations which have successfully addressed Employee Experience are 2.2 times more likely to exceed their financial targets and 5.1 times more likely to engage and retain employees.

To find out more, we suggest you watch (or rewatch) her talk. And as PMI has a lot of other real-world EX guidance to give us, we encourage you to go here to see the full version of this discussion.

Plus, if you are inspired by what this major firm has to say on practical EX, why not secure an early place at the upcoming (16-17 May) Employee

Experience Forum?

May could be a fantastic opportunity to see what else Magali and her team have discovered about real-world EX best practice you could learn from.

So: see you there?

To ensure they attract and keep the right talent and future-proof their businesses in our ongoing times of uncertainty and volatility, both HR and business leaders see that a great EX (Employee Experience) is now more crucial than ever.

We certainly agree—and are assembling a fantastic two-day Forum focused just on this. Even better: we’re back to meeting in the real world!

So, please- come and join HR Congress, experts and your peers at the upcoming HR Congress Employee Experience Impact Forum at Amsterdam’s Hotel Movenpick May 16-17.

There, we’ll be hearing from a wide range of leaders, including Magali Demierre, Global Head of Employee Experience at one of the world’s biggest tobacco firms, Philip Morris International (which owns brands like Marlboro). To get an idea of what Magali will be updating us on at the HR Congress Employee Experience Impact Forum, we’d suggest you read this selected summary but then go straight to her full presentation from the November HR Congress World Summit.

Ms Demierre will be updating us all on what happened next at the Forum—so if you’re intrigued by what she says, why not lock in your place at the event today—and remember the 20% group discount if you would like to bring some colleagues along.

Written by: Katalin Toth

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