Alibaba’s winning HR strategy during the crisis


An article by Albin Warin 王乐心, Founder Happiness Architect | Mindset and performance for young generations at work | Founder “China Happiness Project”, Shanghai, China

On January 23rd, Alibaba CEO Daniel Jiang, Executive Chairman of Ant Financial Eric Jing, Secretary General Guo Jing and Alibaba Group Chief People Officer (Head of HR) Judy Tong set up an emergency working group to leverage Alibaba’s ecosystem to overcome the crisis and align people’s strategy within 4 focus areas:

– Supporting medical services

– Supporting people’s daily life

– Supporting SME’s to overcome the crisis

– Bringing positive energy to society

Alibaba HR came out with a « 3C strategy » to support businesses 

Here some initiatives from Alibaba HR’s strategy and examples of concrete actions put in place with a very clear framework to support people during the crisis.

1. Communication

From the beginning of the crisis, the HR team worked hands in hands with the communication team to start a video program called « Daily news in the battle ». The idea was to open a new communication channel in the organization that will broadcast information and updates in real-time to show how Alibaba’s employees came together to fight the battle. From a global initiative, they delegate to every business units the responsibility to create their own daily news reports and spread the news among each department. In this kind of situation what is interesting to notice is how HR team couldn’t go alone on this project but needed the support of communication department and effective cross-department collaboration was a key to success in this 1st C.

2. Connecting

Video messages and notes from Alibaba employees all over the world to Alibaba employees in Hubei
Video messages and notes from Alibaba employees all over the world to Alibaba employees in Hubei

Connecting employees to employees: Alibaba collected from various teams in Hubei and from all around the world employees kind and positive messages. Those messages will be spread among the organization and more specifically to the team in Hubei in the epicentre of the crisis. The HR team also initiated a more creative and entertaining way to connect people by setting up, for example, an online Karaoke using DingTalk (a collaboration platform developed by Alibaba Group). Alibaba breaks all the silos by inviting the top management to perform during the Karaoke session in order to reinforce the « all together » fighting the battle and bringing positive energy. Involving top management in such events is not a first time for Alibaba as every year during the company annual party, Jack Ma often was a star on stage doing role play or singing to create the show. You can be a leader but still “mingle” and join your team activity to create this “together” spirit.

Connecting the company to employees: The HR department was also in charge to dispatch all medical supplies for Alibaba employees. Alibaba also initiated a tracking system for each employee by generating a health green QR code that should be shown when employees come to work. Using the interface of Alipay (payment platform by Alibaba) every citizen in China can also have access to their personal “health green QR code” to show when they want to access to public spaces such as restaurants, bars, office buildings.

3. Commitment

When such a crisis happened, the main question for Alibaba and probably many companies was « How do we keep inspiring people to keep performing well during such a difficult time? ». As an inspiring leader, Jack Ma created a powerful video message to HR teams « Only those who can face challenges and enterprises who can overcome difficulties will have a bright future ». By inspiring HR teams they could then spread this energy to the rest of employees of the organization.

HR teams then created « employees story » inviting “Aliren” (people working at Alibaba) to make a video about their typical workday. HR teams also created inspiring content like posters with tips for better time management when you are at home or even doing a rap song to make it more entertaining about how to work from home effectively. Again Alibaba used a very down to earth content creation strategy and keep it fun even in this hard time to keep the positive spirit.

The 3C strategy benefits

Alibaba’s HR strategy ensure during the crisis a smooth execution of all those initiatives in the different business units of the group. This strategy succeeds to keep employees focused and thrive better. HR in the Alibaba group have deep business sense so that their strategy could be aligned on business objectives. The outcome of such a successful HR strategy is tremendous:

– Supporting people mentally and keep the positive spirit

– Maintaining employees engagement and business stability 

– Placing HR in a strategic position in company vision and strategy

– Strengthening corporate communication and transparency

If you want to have a deeper look to the Alibaba HR strategy turn the crisis into an opportunity you can check the “digital handbook for entrepreneurs” by Alibaba group here:

Happiness Architect help companies to increase retention, performance, and job satisfaction of young generations at work using positive psychology and neuroscience. Our creative and fun solutions are focusing on training and consulting to develop emotional intelligence and the right mindset at work for new generations.

Get In Touch.

We welcome connection. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


Stay in the know.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. By browsing this website, you agree to our use of cookies.