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Creating a People-First Culture: 8 Tips for HR Directors


Bob Hogarth, a speaker at the marcus evans HR Summit 2014, on what it takes to create a people-first culture in organisations today.

Interview with: Bob Hogarth, General Manager People and Culture, Heritage Bank


A people-first culture starts from understanding the purpose of the Human Resources (HR) team, says Bob Hogarth, General Manager People and Culture, Heritage Bank. “Understand what you are there for in order to have a chance of achieving it,” he suggests.

Hogarth is a speaker at the marcus evans HR Summit 2014, taking place in the Gold Coast, Australia, 31 March - 2 April 2014.

Have a clear understanding of the purpose of the HR team. Only then can you start building a clear and compelling strategy that is connected to the overall organisational strategy. What does top management value the most? Understand what you are there for in order to have a chance of achieving it.

Look at ways to generate revenue and create value. The HR function is often seen as a cost centre, but there are several ways to generate income. In Australia there is government funding for training, so we have become a registered training organisation. We have also set up a sophisticated e-learning platform which we now sell to other financial institutions. Provide value and demonstrate how you do it.

Enhance and protect the culture consistently. One way to do that is by having strong and consistent communication to the organisation and its employees of what value the HR function provides.

Measure and understand HR metrics. We have staff engagement surveys every 12 months and take results very seriously. Involve other people. Share the results with the whole organisation and also share responsibility for improvements to the culture, both organisationally and individually. We have teams focusing on improving culture in their own team and we hold them accountable for that.

Look at what employees value to provide initiatives and benefits that hit the mark. One example of employee value is that we recognised that we have a growing number of Baby Boomers becoming grandparents, so we introduced a grandparent leave benefit whereby they can take a few days off to support their children.

Align workforce expectations with the company agenda. In a healthy organisation, the gap should not exist or be very small. In a strong culture, employee needs are taken into account. In one way or another, most employees are looking to be valued, recognised, rewarded, as well as to the opportunity to develop and reach their potential.

Do not compromise on quality, professionalism, integrity and trust. Once those things are gone in an organisation, it can be extraordinarily damaging to the culture.

Lead by example. Be a role model. It is important to have a great team culture within the HR team, where people are cared for and developed, a place where people want to work and create exciting things together.

Contact: Sarin Kouyoumdjian-Gurunlian, Press Manager, marcus evans, Summits Division

Tel: + 357 22 849 313

About the HR Summit 2014

This unique forum will take place at the Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, 31 March - 2 April 2014. Offering much more than any conference, exhibition or trade show, this exclusive meeting will bring together esteemed industry thought leaders and solution providers to a highly focused and interactive networking event. The Summit includes presentations on winning HR strategies, the HR leader of the future, fostering a high-performance culture, and achieving long-term success.

For more information please send an email to or visit the event website

marcus evans group - hr sector portal 

The HR Network – marcus evans Summits group delivers peer-to-peer information on strategic matters, professional trends and breakthrough innovations.


Please note that the Summit is a closed business event and the number of participants strictly limited.

About marcus evans Summits

marcus evans Summits are high level business forums for the world’s leading decision-makers to meet, learn and discuss strategies and solutions. Held at exclusive locations around the world, these events provide attendees with a unique opportunity to individually tailor their schedules of keynote presentations, case studies, roundtables and one-to-one business meetings. For more information, please visit 

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