In the afternoon of Aug. 20th when the COVID-19 dominated the headlines, Hyundai Card/Hyundai Capital employees were bustling about. They were busy accessing video conferencing app Zoom via their mobile phones to watch a lecture titled “Auto market outlook in the post-COVID era”. The speaker was renowned auto market analyst Ko Taebong, who serves as the Head of Research Division at Hi Investment & Securities. A chat window was activated on the bottom of the screen and employees started joining the lecture one by one.
Unlike offline lectures where the audience was reluctant to ask a question unless it is a Q&A session, those gathering at Zoom were more enthusiastic about putting forward their opinion than any time before. Just as we see on a live streaming show, the participants’ questions were constantly being posted on the chat window and Ko was engaging with the audience by answering the questions to the extent it does not interrupt the lecture’s flow. He was mainly talking about how the automotive industry would change in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and how a captive finance company should cope with the change.
The lecture was as a part of Hyundai Card/Hyundai Capital’s corporate learning program, called “Open Class.” But it is different from typical corporate learning programs that you have been familiar with. Instead of picking a topic too broad – or dull -- to understand, Open Class deals with the topics resonating with the latest trends. Although they might not be directly related to everyday work, it is OK as long as they are interesting enough to attract attention... Of course, Joining the lecture is entirely up to the employees. They can apply when only when they are interested.
[Left] Photographer Yoon Gwangjun talks about “Beauty found in photographs” in the previous “Open Class” session.
[Right] Open Class goes online in the wake of the COVID-10 pandemic. A Hyundai Card/Hyundai Capital employee takes the lecture via video conferencing app Zoom.
Corporate learning programs have been often considered to be boring. Its attendance was mandatory, even though the employees are busy with work. So many employees coming to the lecture room left right after the session began or spent the whole time fixating their eyes on smartphones. They believed that it was more reasonable to learn something valuable through private education programs outside the office.
However, this trend is changing. Now employees are given with an opportunity to choose education programs reflecting individual preferences – instead of filling the lecture room as they are required to do so from the top. The so-called “Corporate Learning on Demand” is what Google, Microsoft or other tech companies are using to operate corporate learning programs.
Hyundai Card/Hyundai Capital has been spearheading the trend in Korea. Since 2014, there have been 114 Open Classes covering diverse topics from post-COVID business trends, fintech and neural science. Speakers invited to the class also vary, ranging from popular poet Ha Sangwoo, renowned psychiatrist Ha Jihyeon Ha, wrestler-turned-broadcaster Kim Namhoon.
Hyundai Card/Hyundai Capital’s philosophy of offering corporate learning programs are also being applied to its 11 global entities. For example, Hyundai Capital America(HCA) and Hyundai Capital UK(HCUK) are offering “Lunch & Learn” program to invite professionals from tech, finance and diverse industrial fields to discuss changing industrial trends with their employees.
[Before lectures went online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, HCA offered a corporate learning program about digital new technologies last year]
“The best thing about Open Class is that anyone can choose a class they want to listen to regardless of their job rank. We offer Open Class during work hours, so our colleagues don’t have to worry about taking time out of their personal life to listen tom,” said a Hyundai Card/Capital employee at Open Class Talent Management Team.Redefining employee welfare programs
Then, why is Hyundai Card/Hyundai Capital trying to invite a young poet or a brain scientist to their corporate learning programs and encourage their employees to listen to lectures during their work hours? The answer lies in unique philosophy that Hyundai Card/Hyundai Capital have towards their employee welfare.
Now lifetime employment has become a thing of the past, with the boundaries across various industries breaking down. So people expect their employers to offer diverse development opportunities for them. Therefore, the best corporate welfare means offering opportunities for employees to improve themselves. In fact, the employer can be benefited from such approach in the long term, because as individual employees have more experience and knowledge, the employer’s potential also grows exponentially.
To do so, it is important to create an environment where they can be inspired in different areas outside of their individual tasks. Hyundai Card/Hyundai Capital have created spaces inside the office, where their employees can extend experience beyond every tasks.
A case in point is diverse artworks displayed in the office. Just like an Renaissance artist inspired by different objects around them, they can develop a new perspective on their tasks by turning their eyes from everyday work. From Jeppe Hein’s “This is a Magic Moment” and Julian Opie’s “Sara, Walking, Bra and Pants’ installed in the lobby to Ian Wallace’s “Untitled, At the Crosswalk Ⅱ” and Erwin Wurm’s “Dumpling Car,” the office is filled with sources of inspiration.
[Left] In-house restaurant ‘the BOX’ with coding language written on the wall
[Right] Bee hives installed on the rooftop of Hyundai Card/Hyundai Capital last year
Work spaces are also designed to make sure employees can get inspired and unleash their creativeness. You can find witty notices written in coding language ‘Python’ in every corners of Hyundai Card/Hyundai Capital offices. It was part of effort to improve employees’ digital literacy by familiarizing them with coding languages, which are hard to come across unless you are professional IT developers. Background music played in in the entire offices and trendy pop songs blasted at 3 p.m. every day adds a vibe to a dull office. When Rain’s “Gang” went viral in May, various versions of the song were played for employees to enjoy.
Office spaces are often used for brilliant events. Last year, the company put bee hives on the headquarters’ rooftop and offered honey tea to employees. It was in light with the social trend to restore the urban ecosystem by beekeeping. Cooking Library has even held “One day urban beekeeping class.” It has offered an opportunity for participants to observe bees and harvest honey in person, helping them develop a perspective of seeing honey as part of nature, not just a food ingredient.
“Employee welfare is all about giving an opportunity to employees to thrive on their own. To do that, we will make effort to make sure they will have experience which is like gaining knowledge in a library, working out at a gym or getting inspired at a gallery,” said Hyundai Card/Hyundai Capital spokesperson.