BCX CHRO Hope Lukoto describes the journey of renewing the group’s culture

When Business Connexion was rebranded to BCX, the leadership team tried to create the BCX DNA.

BCX CHRO Hope Lukoto has been on a journey of unifying the culture within the organisation since she joined them in 2018. BCX is made up of many different subsidiaries that had been acquired through various mergers and acquisitions, each of which had its own set of individual values and cultures. 

When the group was rebranded from Business Connexion to BCX the executive leadership team endeavoured to create what is now known as the BCX DNA. 

Says Hope: "The idea came when I was driving from work one day – as we all used to when things were normal – and I was listening to the Bruce Whitfield Show, where Bruce was interviewing Jon Katzenbach, the author of Critical Few. The book is about the critical behaviours that are necessary to transform the culture of a business. I soon after bought the book for the entire executive committee and that’s how our journey began."

Hope says she also spent some time researching the cultures within technology companies like Netflix and Google. And every employee was involved in the process of defining behaviours that would be encouraged as well as those behaviours that they wanted to be eradicated. 

That set fire in the bellies of the employees and energised them because they felt a sense of ownership and pride throughout the process of defining what they were all going to start holding each other accountable for. 

“We realised the need to focus on culture because the feedback we were getting from employees in our engagement surveys was that they didn’t know what the culture of the organisation was. Similarly, our customers were telling us that they didn’t know what BCX employees stood for,” says Hope, who has been nominated for the 2021 CHRO Awards. 

Employees were involved in voting for the final 10 enabling behaviours to champion and 10 disabling behaviours to root out. In the end, Hope says it really took on a life of its own to the point where, during pitches, “our salespeople would talk about our DNA and the behaviours espoused at BCX”. 

Wonders for the employer brand

During the same period, BCX went through a restructuring process, which was anchored by the behaviours that had been settled upon. 

“It meant that the restructuring process went far more smoothly than when we had restructured in the past without that culture programme,” she says. “It really seemed to allow us to weather the storm in a much better way.”  

Similarly, Hope says their employer brand has improved significantly despite the fact that the impact of Covid-19 led to retrenchments. Today, BCX today doesn't struggle to get CVs and Hope says that is no small feat because it cuts down on the time to hire and the overall cost of recruitment. It has allowed the human capital function to create talent pools for passive candidates that the business can reach out to whenever there is a vacancy. 

“If you are looking for a senior robotics expert and there are only 10 of them in the whole country, for example, you have to have a differentiated approach in order to acquire those skills. You shouldn’t be advertising a vacancy with a job description and simply hoping for the best.” 

The humane capital function

Hope says that, since the culture project was executed, their line managers have begun to play a bigger role in boosting BCX’s employer brand. They feel a sense of ownership in the values and culture of the organisation and, because of that, it is easier for them to now speak glowingly about working at BCX. 

“All your employees are brand ambassadors and they should be talking about the business to people in their networks whether there is a vacancy or not. You don't want to start from scratch when you do have a vacancy,” she says, adding that BCX encourages their people to be honest about the challenges that exist within the organisation. This ensures that, by the time a candidate says they are interested, the likelihood of acquiring those skills is high because they know exactly what they are getting themselves into.

Hope says the key driver to their approach is to be humane. In fact, she refers to her portfolio as the ‘humane’ capital function. That means treating people like humans who feel things based on their experience at work but also their experience at home – two places that, in these times, are one and the same. 

“We also put a lot of measures in place to ease the transition to remote working and provided our people with a safe space to talk about their emotional wellbeing. At BCX it’s okay to say ‘I’m having a sad day, and I’m not going to log on. Being able to take that ‘duvet day’ is so important in today’s world where people are dealing with a lot of challenges on all fronts.”  

Many people have lost family and friends to Covid-19 and Hope believes it’s important for organisations to not simply expect a business-as-usual mindset from employees who are grieving en masse.

Ultimately, she believes that it is by taking care of their people that their people will take care of the business and employer brand.