Transforming performance reviews in the face of massive disruption
Esquel Group implemented a continuous feedback system through check-ins, simplified performance reviews and ratings, and centralised learning for employees with Cornerstone OnDemand
Esquel Group is a global textile and apparel manufacturer headquartered in Hong Kong. Founded in 1978, the business has continued to expand with leading textile innovation and producing garments for many of the world's top fashion brands. With around 35,000 employees globally, Esquel has manufacturing facilities located in China, Sri Lanka and Vietnam, and merchandising offices servicing markets worldwide.
Responding to a rapidly changing world
With its company heritage as a supplier to the retail clothing manufacturing industry for over 40 years, Esquel wanted to transform its operating model to address rapidly changing market conditions in the geopolitical and business environments. They wanted to break with traditional practices and focus on placing the employee at the center of their organisation, examining performance management processes which needed to more accurately align with their strategic goals..
"As digital transformation modernises the retail industry, we needed to deploy new systems to manage core HR processes and talent management," said Chapman Liu, HR Project Manager, Esquel Group.
Similar to many organisations, the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 had a significant impact on Esquel. With stores closed and production halted around the world in the early days of the pandemic, the company was forced to pivot operations quickly to address global demand for products such as face masks.
The effects of the pandemic also led Esquel to change its performance review process, as the roles and professional goals of thousands of employees changed virtually overnight. The company suddenly needed managers to have ongoing visibility into employee productivity, development and morale as well as ensure that employees understood workflow changes and their role in achieving company objectives.
"We needed to share real-time insights about employee performance and skills gaps across the organisation to help the business become more agile at a critical time," said Liu.
Esquel turned to the Cornerstone talent management solutions it implemented in 2017 and leveraged the Cornerstone Performance check-in feature to accelerate their transition to a continuous feedback model in only three months. The company also utilised Cornerstone Learning to centralise learning resources and make it easier to create development programs tailored to individuals or organisational skill gaps.
As HR Project Manager Chapman Liu points out, "We were able to successfully transition from making shirts to making a difference with the commitment of our employees. Cornerstone's solutions allowed the HR department to support the massive changes that Esquel faced in 2020 and move forward with a structure that will help us provide valuable insights to improve how the business operates."
Annual review structure replaced by continuous check-ins.
Cornerstone Performance enabled the company to stay connected with over 6,800 employees throughout the year, providing consistent feedback rather than just a yearly assessment. Since adopting this process, Esquel has reduced the timeframe of reviews to just three months and optimised its ratings system.
By establishing regular, recorded check-ins, department leaders set clearer work goals and connected more frequently with employees when it was needed most. Cornerstone Performance empowered department heads to schedule informal catch-up sessions with subordinates, review work progress, and develop action plans. Check-ins that were saved in the system could then be used for more formal annual performance reviews.
Clearer view of employee performance.
Regular check-ins enabled department leaders to measure progress and provide guidance to help employees reach their goals. The company also gained a more comprehensive view of common employee development needs and skill gaps.
Professional development planning simplified.
Department leaders can adapt training plans to business needs, employee skills and any new processes deployed in the future.
Performance management and development resources accessible on a central platform.
Esquel's HR department can use Cornerstone's platform solution to monitor employee usage and unlock insights about performance to improve overall business operations. With Cornerstone Learning, Esquel can also create new review templates for all department leaders to use and provide training from a unified platform, which is crucial in the current environment.