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ISSUE 15.10

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Bringing out the best in SMEs


Dear HRM readers,




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HRM Asia Pte Ltd 60 Albert Street, Albert Complex #16-08 Singapore 189969 Tel: +65 6423 4631 Fax: +65 6423-4632 Email: info@hrmasia.com.sg


or this month’s cover story of HRM Magazine, we are going big with HR in SMEs. Fresh from the recent launch of the Human Capital Movement in SMEs by Spring Singapore, we speak exclusively to the 10 volunteer HR Directors who have a steely determination to help elevate the HR functions in SMEs to the next level. We share their inspiration behind joining the movement, their hopes for SMEs, and how they long for other senior HR professionals to step in to the fray to help ensure the HR ecosystem thrives over the long term. For October’s Leaders Talk HR section, we feature Chris Pearce, Divisional Director and CEO of Toll Global Logistics. Pearce shares his fascinating insights on a variety of issues, ranging from Toll’s culture, recruitment strategies, employee engagement platforms and career progression ladders. Does your organisation offer sabbaticals or secondments? If it doesn’t, it may be worth exploring these initiatives. This month’s issue sees us sussing out the benefits of such schemes, and we probe how they can improve productivity levels, strengthen employee engagement, and enhance work-life balance. For the first time ever, HRM Asia also held an event to celebrate and reward the winners of our HRM Asia Readers Choice Awards. The HRM Asia Readers Choice Awards 2015 recognised exceptional vendor organisations in 14 categories, and showcased the best of corporate service providers in Singapore. Do check out our special HRM Asia Readers Choice Awards 2015 pullout guide where we feature all 14 winners. Happy reading everyone!

Best Regards,

Sham Majid

Assistant Editor, HRM Asia CONTACT US:

MIC (P) 065/07/2015 ISSN 0219-6883

Read something you like? Or something you don’t? Perhaps there’s some insight we haven’t considered? Have your say on HRM’s news, features, and contributions by emailing: info@hrmasia.com.sg



CONTENTS 15.10 COVER STORY 24 Bringing out the best in SMEs

Collectively, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the largest group of employers in Singapore. However, their HR teams are often focused on transactional activities rather than building HR policies. Spring Singapore’s new Human Capital Movement in SMEs aims to bridge this gap. In an exclusive special, HRM chats with the 10 Volunteer HR Directors who are spearheading this mission to make HR in SMEs more strategic.

24 FEATURES 12 Doing it the Toll Way


Despite being in the business of moving things, Toll is actually not a logistics-based business. According to Chris Pearce, Divisional Director and CEO of Toll Global Logistics, the organisation prides itself on consistently delivering valueadded initiatives back to its clients.

16 Workplace learning:

Staying ahead of the pack In the second of a special three-part series, HRM zooms in on the current learning platforms organisations can tap onto to train their workforces, and shares how the Institute of Adult Learning is leading the charge in developing technologically-savvy


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learning practices for working professionals.

19 Truly a place to call home

Comfort and spaciousness epitomise Village Residence Robertson Quay, as HRM can attest to during its exclusive one-night stay.

20 Taking challenges head on

A lot has been said about the hiring challenges in Singapore’s retail sector. HRM speaks to one local company which has been working hard to overcome them.

32 Viewing pressure in a different light

More employees are expecting more flexibility at their workplaces, and it’s HR

60 68 professionals that are under pressure to meet those needs. HRM looks at what makes employees speak up for change, and how HR can address their concerns.

36 Taking the road less travelled

HRM investigates how some firms are seeing benefits reaped from facilitating secondments and sabbaticals for their staff.

42 Sussing out mobility trends

Santa Fe Relocation Services held its first-ever interactive event, in which relocation industry experts were invited to discuss global mobility issues in the HR market.

44 Recognising portable skills

Besides contributing to Singapore’s national security and military defence, National Service is also an opportunity to learn relevant skills. HRM shares some of the new and upcoming initiatives to help National Servicemen transit into the workforce.

48 Coaching towards success

Professional coaching can help boost talent development in an organisation. HRM looks at how HR professionals can upskill themselves and their employees to create a more effective workforce.

54 Making an educated decision

International schooling options can be one of the most important issues for relocating families. HRM shares how international schools are working with HR to ensure international staff can have a peace of mind when it comes to their children’s education.

60 Embedding the comforts of home

Some of Singapore’s leading hotels are going the extra mile to meet the specific needs of business travellers.

66 Starwood: Going beyond



Companies of all sizes naturally hold career days to recruit new talent. But Starwood Hotels and Resorts’ career “day” is multiplied by 30 and is not your conventional recruitment exercise, as HRM discovers.


68 SME Spotlight

18 Leaders on Leadership

4 News

For a company that has been around for as long as Singapore has been an independent nation, Atlas Sound & Vision applies its well-defined principles to guide and drive policymaking.

43 HR Clinic

72 HR Young Gun

59 In Person

Every month, HRM speaks to a young university talent hoping to carve out a career in HR upon graduation.

43 Twenty-four Seven 58 Talent Ladder 59 Resources 71

An HRD Speaks ISSUE 15.10









Seventy percent Close to a third (31%) of of Filipino workers respondents to an Australian survey are pleased with have claimed there has been at least their jobs, with one ‘security event’ at their office. only 30% deeming This is according to the Australian themselves to Workplace Security study that was be “unhappy” at unveiled by LogRhythm, a security work. intelligence company, recently. This is When quizzed about Of those that accessed according to a recent JobStreet.com Philippines’ Job vulnerabilities, a third (33%) of confidential documents, seven per Satisfaction Report. workers and 43% of managers cent did so after they no longer Among those who are contented with their revealed that confidential worked for the firm. The main employment position, 15% categorise themselves as company information was at risk reason cited was that the data would “very happy” and 55% as “quite happy,” while 25% of being stolen or accessed by assist them in their new position. deem themselves to be “quite unhappy” and five unauthorised people. “Raising awareness of cybercrime percent as “very unhappy” with their jobs. In fact, 72% of employees think and the dangers to corporations, The report also cited that the level of happiness the greatest threat to data security their employees and customers among workers drops as they rise up the is employee-related, because of is crucial to building a culture corporate ladder. staff downloading infected files that always has data security Fresh graduates are happiest group at 79%, or malware, or employees who front of mind,” said Simon Howe, followed by junior executives (70%), simply do not think LogRhythm’s Sales Director for supervisors (67%), and directors (68%), about security. Australia and New Zealand. while managers registered the lowest But even more “As enterprises go global and of Japanese workers polled percentage of happy employees at 66%. surprising was that workers access confidential data trust their employer to keep Levels of contentment also 12% of respondents and documents across different personal information on their demonstrate a noticeable decrease confessed to mediums, the attack surface for mobile device private, the as workers remain longer in their having accessed or cyber criminals is becoming larger.” lowest of six markets polled positions. Those who have stayed in obtained confidential The Workplace Security study Source: The 2015 MobileIron their firms for less than a year are documents from their featured 1003 employees from Trust Gap Survey most satisfied at 75%, followed by office without proper mid-sized to large Australian those who have remained for between one and authority. That equates to up to corporations, and was three years at 72%, while only 65% of those with 719,000 employees across Australia. conducted in June. longer periods of tenure at three to five years are pleased. Only 62% of those who have remained NEW ZEALAND with the organisation for more than five years consider themselves happy. When quizzed about why they are content with their roles, 64% of happy respondents cited being pleased with the salary, company benefits and The common view that a bigger workplace equates to less stress for incentives they are provided with; job role was second staff has been turned on its head, at least in New Zealand. at 62%, while career growth and the firm’s learning According to a survey by insurer Southern Cross and enterprise and development programmes came in third at 60%. advocate BusinessNZ, stress levels are prone to increase among At the other end of the spectrum, workers who workers of companies boasting more than 50 staff. switched jobs in the past three years claimed they The Wellness in the Workplace report, collated from data collected from departed because they were discontent with the 113 workplaces that employ 116,000 people, revealed that all in all, 29% wages, benefits and incentives offered to them. of firms experienced an increase in stress levels last year. In fact, 90% of those who changed roles believe Approximately 57% witnessed no change in stress levels, while 14% they made the right decision and 59% became cited a drop. happier after the move. Nevertheless, 36% of workers from larger companies claimed their Fifty percent of junior executives have goals of stress levels had risen, as opposed to 23% of those at smaller offices. changing jobs in the next 12 months, as well as 48% of Workers listed several reasons for rising stress, including general managers, 47% of supervisors, and 44% of directors. workloads, relationship concerns, long hours, pressure to meet targets, The survey for the JobStreet.com Philippines’ Job and financial concerns. Satisfaction Report was conducted from June to July, BusinessNZ CEO Phil O’Reilly says the findings should constitute as a with a total of 7,586 respondents taking part. wake-up call for organisations that do not design wellness strategies.

Only 53%



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GETTING USED TO OVERTIME If you’re a white collar worker in China, you’re probably already used to clocking hours in overtime. According to a recent survey released by portal website NetEase, over 60% of employees on the mainland work extra time on weekdays, while 40% have to embark on this on the weekends. In fact, close to 14% claimed they only had half the weekends off in a month, while 3.4% revealed they had no day off in a typical month. The survey defined work outside of the typical 9am to 6pm time period as working overtime. Guangdong province, Beijing and Zhejiang province possess the most


employees working extra time from Monday to Friday, while Hong Kong, Shanghai and Jiangsu province have the highest average number of monthly overtime days. The survey was based on data from 800 million users, as well as results from more than 38,000 questionnaires.


WANTED: LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT Leadership development has emerged as a chief priority for HR professionals in India, and organisations are paving the way for chances to develop leadership qualities across all levels, a new survey has revealed. According to the research by Top Employers Institute, leadership advancement has now become a chief goal across the nation. This pattern signals an impetus towards more individual ownership of development requirements. “Our survey shows that highperforming organisations are making information on leadership development available to any manager who is interested in further developing their skills, something that sets them apart from low-performing organisations,” Top Employers

Institute CEO David Plink said. The survey found that India has a relatively large number of millennials in leadership positions. As opposed to other nations, there is also a relatively high utilisation of analytics within HR in India. “We are seeing a different approach towards leadership development, with more opportunities to develop leadership qualities available to all levels across organisations,” Plink said, adding that “people develop fastest when they feel responsible for their own progress”. The Leadership Development Report was based on the findings of the Top Employers HR Best Practices Survey, covering a sample size of 600 certified organisations in 99 nations with more than 3,000 employees each.

Well-being support for 48 million employees across 56,000 organisations in 200+ countries and territories. Learn More at:

www.workplaceoptions.com ISSUE 15.10







EMPLOYER BIAS UNINTENTIONAL FORMER CEO’S REWARD PACKAGE SLASHED Recruitment processes are often heavily French telecommunications tainted by unconscious biases by employers equipment company, Alcateland HR practitioners, according to a report Lucent has shrunk the titled A Head for Hiring: The Behavioural Science compensation package of its of Recruitment by the Chartered Institute of former CEO Michel Combes, Personnel and Development (CIPD). according to Bloomberg. An employer’s first perceptions about a This comes after pressure from candidate’s suitability can be influenced French politicians, who said the by visual, cultural, and demographic remuneration was excessive. factors, which do not have a real impact on Instead of stock, Combes will performance. For example, hirers are likely receive cash with a bonus of a to pick people who are similar maximum of €4.85 to them in terms of hobbies, million (S$7.68 million) helping to negotiate the company’s experiences and how they dress and a non-competition sale to Nokia. He also restructured or interact during the interview. payment of € 3.1 research labs, renegotiated debt, of young adults want to Men are also favoured over million (S$4.8 million). and cut costs to revamp Alcatelchange career paths at least once in their lifetime. women in hiring decisions. He is likely to receive Lucent before the agreed takeover. Source: 2015 Clark The report also suggests less than the stated He says the company was close to University Poll of applicants with names which amount as the reward bankruptcy, but he managed to revive Emerging Adults are clearly associated with an is subject to social it by slashing thousands of jobs. ethnic minority community are charges and taxes. His remuneration package likely to get fewer call-backs compared to Alcatel-Lucent had previously said revived the debate on executive those who are typically deemed to have a Combes would receive stock worth compensation in France, with ‘white’ name. about €13 million (S$20.5 million) the French Economy Minister CIPD urges employers to consider using at current prices over three years. Emmanuel Macron saying the initial insights from behavioural science to achieve Combes left Alcatel-Lucent after reward was “shocking”. a more accurate indication of a candidate’s fit for the job. SWEDEN “Even highly trained assessors make systematically different decisions depending on the time of day and their ‘cognitive load’ or ‘brain-strain’ at that point in time,” Jonny Gifford, Research Many refugees in Sweden are beating discrimination and strict employment Adviser at the CIPD, says. laws to get good jobs, according to Reuters. This is especially true for well“Regardless of the level of resources and educated Syrians refugees. techniques one has to work with, there are Immigrants have to overcome the language barrier, discrimination, steps that employers and recruiters can and lack of contacts as they try to land their first job in the Scandinavian take to ensure that candidates get a fair country. recruitment experience and that employers In 2014, Sweden accepted more asylum seekers per capita than any find the person that best fits the role and other European nation. As many as 90,000 refugees are expected to enter can drive business performance.” the country this year. The number of employed persons has increased by 300,000 since 2008, and immigrants have made up about three-quarters of that growth. Around a third of Syrians who entered Sweden between 2009 and 2013 had some level of higher education. This marks a far higher proportion than Afghan, Eritrean, or Somali migrants who previously made up the bulk of Sweden’s humanitarian immigration programme. Twenty-nine percent of immigrants who have arrived since 2000 have at least three years of higher education, more than the 25% of native Swedes. However, the outlook is still bleak for low-educated immigrants. There are twice as many immigrants without secondary school education as that of native Swedes, and a third are unemployed today. “Many of those that come here don’t have secondary schooling and Sweden’s economy is quite simply not built for that today,” said Joakim Ruist, migration researcher at the University of Gothenburg.




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Unable to afford the cost of living in Geneva, a 22-yearold New Zealander who was interning with the United Nations (UN) lived in a tent on the shore of Lake Geneva, according to the Daily Mail Online. David Hyde took up the unpaid internship at the inter-governmental organisation, and quit after pictures of him in front of his ‘home’ sparked an uproar. Initially, he did not want to give up his dream of being a UN intern, even though he was unable to afford the steep rent in Switzerland. “I chose to resign because I felt that it would be too difficult to continue to focus on my work as an intern at this stage,” he said. He said the UN was clear about its intern policy from the beginning and he understood there would be no wage or stipend, no transport, no food allowance, and no health assistance. He also admitted to lying during the interview for the position when probed on if he could support himself in Geneva. “I understood this, and in that regard, I have to take responsibility for taking the internship in the first place,” Hyde said. “I just want to make it clear that no person forced me to sleep in a tent, but rather my circumstances and the conditions for this internship made it the only real possibility that I could see,” he added.

One in four employers in the US say more foreign workers should be allowed to work in the country, according to a CareerBuilder survey. More than half of those employers were concerned about the increasing talent gap, and cited the benefit of furthering progress in science, technology, engineering and mathematics-related fields. Employers in the survey reported difficulties in filling high-skill jobs. Almost half (46%) had hired a low-skill worker and trained them for a higher-skill job within the last two years. Twenty-six per cent of employers polled said they were hiring foreign workers on H-1B visas this year. The H-1B visas allow organisations to temporarily employ foreign workers for specialised occupations. Thirteen per cent of employers said they had tried to employ workers with H-1B visas this year, but were denied, partly due to the large number of companies applying for them. Others said they did not apply in time, or were not eligible.


Best Contract Recruitment Company of the Year RI ASIA Awards Singapore 2015

“Winning this prestigious award is indeed an honour for Kelly as it recognises the outstanding service we deliver to both our candidates and clients. We are committed to be the trusted partner to the finest local enterprises, key government agencies and well-respected multinational organisations for their contract and talent needs.” Mr Foo See Yang, Acting Country Manager of Kelly Singapore

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How can your employees benefit from mobile learning? How is mobile learning affecting organisational learning across Asia Pacific? HRM highlights some results from Skillsoft’s The State of Mobile Learning - Asia Pacific Insights 2015 and what these changes mean for organisations.

72% YES

Does mobile learning increase your level of engagement? MOBILE LEARNING ADOPTION AND USAGE


Organisations have adopted mobile learning

Organisational benefits for decision makers


Enhances business efficiency



want interactive content with active participation


Participated as a learner in mobile learning

Learners want content relating to



Leadership development

Improves business results

Improves work efficiency


Enables new knowledge and skills




Skills training on relevant software and tools

Sources: • Skillsoft’sThe State of Mobile Learning - Asia Pacific Insights 2015 • Some icon graphics are by Freepik.com and VectorOpen-Stock.com 8

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say mobile learning can resolve limited accessibility to learning


Employee benefits



adopt mobile learning to create a continuous learning environment

HR MARKET ROUNDUP OAKWOOD ASIA-PACIFIC TO LAUNCH NEW PROPERTY IN SG Oakwood Asia-Pacific has signed a management contract with Newfort Realty to open its first branded property in Singapore. Slated to open in November 2016, the property will be located just off the local shopping district of Orchard Road, at Mount Elizabeth. The new property will be part of the fresh Oakwood Studios brand and will cater to global travellers, offering a casual and unpretentious space to work, live and thrive. “Singapore is an important destination in both the business and leisure travel sectors and we have seen a marked surge in demand for serviced apartments in the city as clients recognise the value of the home-like environment such accommodation provides, as well as its cost effectiveness and flexibility,” said Dean Schreiber, Managing Director of Oakwood Asia-Pacific. “It has long been our desire to have a branded property in this key gateway city, but it was a matter of finding the right property, in the right location, with the right partner. With this property and with Newfort Realty, all forces have finally aligned.” Oakwood Studios Singapore will provide 98 residences ranging from studio units to two-bedroom apartments, a resident’s lounge, a gym, and a rooftop swimming pool. Like its other properties, the latest addition will also offer move-in ready furnished accommodation to meet the needs of both leisure and business travellers. These amenities will include a fully-equipped kitchen complete with kitchenware, cutlery and washers. These are efforts to allow guests to have a similar environment to home, and to enjoy their daily activities comfortably.

TOWERS WATSON APPOINTS NEW MANAGING DIRECTOR Towers Watson has recently appointed Richard Collis as Managing Director and regional leader of its Risk Consulting and Software business in AsiaPacific. Based in Hong Kong, Collis will report to Micheal Murphy, Managing Director and Global Leader, Risk Consulting and Software. Collis’ appointment is a key part of Towers Watson’s strategy to grow the insurance advisory, solutions and software business by providing pragmatic and insightful consultancy to insurance clients in Asia-Pacific. He brings more than 27 years of experience into his new role. Collis began his career in Australia and later held senior Asia-Pacific focused positions with a global financial institution. In 2007, he relocated to Hong Kong from Sydney. Speaking on his appointment, Murphy said, “Richard is energetic and engaging, and has a strong commitment to results, teamwork, and people development. His expertise spans strategic leadership and general management, with a focus on operations and distribution effectiveness.” “His experience of leading large teams across multiple Asia-Pacific markets, and expertise in driving strategic business transformation will support Towers Watson’s pursuit of building and growing its insurance consulting and software business in Asia-Pacific.”


SAP AND MERCER COLLABORATE FOR ADVISORY SERVICES Global consulting firm Mercer has recently announced a global agreement with SAP America, a wholly owned subsidiary of SAP SE. The joint move is part of an effort to provide advisory services to customers on cloud-based human capital management solutions from SuccessFactors, an SAP company. Mercer will assist client organisations by providing a range of advisory and project management services before and after the implementation of cloud solutions from SuccessFactors. Among these services will be broad programme management for HR transformation, global process design and optimisation, and workforce analytics and planning. “Our alliance with SAP complements our existing range of technology deployment and advisory capabilities, and enables us to broaden the support we can provide our clients in their HR transformation initiatives,” said Ilya Bonic, Senior Partner and President of Mercer’s Talent business. “What we know from our customers is that the best way to succeed with HR transformation is to approach it as a journey,” said Mike Ettling, President, SAP SuccessFactors. “The partners bring a whole new level of value to ease for the journey to the cloud. Mercer brings deep HR industry expertise in strategy building, process redesign, change management, and governance. This partnership is a win for customers.”

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Tell me about yourself. Who inspires you? What are your career aims?

I’ve been living in Singapore for about 14 months. I actually grew up in Singapore from the age of nine to 15, so I’m very happy to be back in my childhood stomping ground. In terms of what inspires me, I think it’s all about building businesses. I love building businesses through capable organisations that deliver value back to our customers.


Despite being in the business of moving things, Toll is actually not a logistics-based business. According to Chris Pearce, Divisional Director and CEO of Toll Global Logistics, the organisation prides itself on consistently delivering value-added initiatives back to its clients

Sham Majid sham@hrmasia.com.sg

What is your leadership style?

I think my leadership style is very dependent on the situation. I’ve got a situational leadership style. A lot of the time, I like to think of myself as a coach and as a bit of a mentor to those around me. But I’m also very directive from time to time. So when I need to be directive, when things slow down, I’ll be very forceful in my opinions.


You have been in supply chain operations (or logistics) for more than 26 years. How did you find yourself working in this line?

I actually started off many years ago in the engineering field as an engineer. That grew to running very large factories and a part of running large factories is a warehouse that is attached. That was actually very interesting and quite different from running just a facility. When I did my Masters, I actually focused on logistics management as it sparked my interest. I think the good thing about logistics, particularly in a third-party logistics provider world is that you get to run the logistics of hundreds of multinational companies. What we generally do is that we go into

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large multinationals and we’ll take over the running of their supply chains. For us to provide value in their space, we need to be able to run their supply chain more effectively and more efficiently than they can themselves. So, you have quite a varied array of supply chain facilities and how you link them all up in the most effective way is part of the challenge. There is a lot of maths involved in logistics.

How would your employees describe you?

One of our values that we talk about in this organisation is being open and transparent. I would like to think that my staff can come to me with any issue at any time and not feel bad about doing that. I certainly think that within our Australian operations, they probably have had a few years ahead of this journey of what I call an operational excellence journey. In our Asian countries, they are catching up but it is starting to happen very quickly, so people now are willing to share with me their true feelings about an issue rather than just trying to give me the answer that they think I want to hear.


How do you stay a step ahead of your competitors?

Operational excellence for me is all about the culture of an organisation; so how do you create an organisation that has a high-performing culture? That’s around training everybody in your organisation, the value of the customer, and continually driving value-add back to the customer. It’s a high-performing culture where we enable our teams to get involved in the business and to improve results to make



Over the past 26 years, Chris Pearce has managed multiple and complex end-to-end supply chain operations for a number of different industries, from raw material procurement through to manufacturing and delivery for large multinational companies. Pearce’s career at Toll commenced in 2005, as the General Manager of Toll Contract Logistics. Through that business unit, he became more involved in the greater Toll business, and in 2008, Pearce was offered the challenge of working within Toll’s organically grown logistics business Toll in2store. Managing the business units, Pearce’s main focus was delivering a service that enabled its customised solutions to be the lead provider in the market. Prior to joining Toll, Pearce managed the Southern Region Operations and Supply Chain for Pepsi Co (Smiths Snackfoods).

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LEADERS TALK HR things quicker, to provide a better quality of service, and of course, to ensure that we’re the best we can be in terms of safety. So what differentiates us in the marketplace? It is our culture.


Can you describe that company culture?

We are very focused as an organisation on continuous improvement, so that is a key part of who we are and we provide a lot of training to our people at all levels in the organisation to drive continuous improvement.

For us, it’s no longer acceptable just to provide a service to a customer. Unless you’re continuously looking at ways to change their supply chain and to ensure that they’re ahead of the pack in their particular industry, you are probably not providing a lot of value back to them. We have the type of culture where it’s actually okay to come in and take a bit of risk and get it wrong. We don’t hang people for that. We are around people being authorised to go out there, take an educated risk on an issue, knowing that if it doesn’t exactly work out 100%, then we will learn from that and we’ll move on to the next challenge.

our goals. “SCOTI” has been introduced as a simple way to remember the Toll Way values. SCOTI is defined as: Safety, Continuous Improvement, being Open and Transparent, Teamwork, as well as Trust and Integrity. SCOTI is our values and behaviour programme. What it does is ensure all of our employees in the organisation understand what is expected of them when they come to work. And not only our employees, but also myself as a leader. I often say to my team members that they’ve got to hold me accountable for the same values and behaviours that I hold them accountable for.



Please tell us more about Toll’s behaviours programme: The Toll Way

The Toll Way describes the way we do things at Toll. It talks about what is important to us and how we will achieve

What kind of career progression programme do you have in place?

We do have graduate programmes to ensure that we’re bringing in new talent from polytechnics and universities. We

Sowing the seeds of Toll City logistics hub On July 27, Toll Group launched its blueprint for Toll City – a 100,000 square metre logistics hub in Tuas, Singapore. The $228m five-level, ramp-up facility will house state-of-the-art automation systems to improve productivity and operating efficiency for Toll and its customers in Singapore and the region. Toll Global Logistics CEO Chris Pearce says the development is a key part of Toll’s strategy to strengthen its presence in the region and to continue providing best-in-class supply chain solutions across different market sectors. “The size and scope of this investment is a testament to Toll’s intent to achieve supply chain excellence in Asia-Pacific for its customers,” he says. “Toll City will redefine warehousing solution options for its customers through leading-edge technology and innovation in a world class facility. We will be ready to increase Toll’s productivity and meet warehousing capacity demand in a region that is set to become one of the largest economic blocs in the world.” Some of the high-tech options being reviewed for the Toll City development include high-speed unit picking, voice picking and intelligent conveyor systems. The integrated transport and warehouse systems are complemented by energy-efficient initiatives including rain water harvesting and energy monitoring. In partnership with the Workforce Development Agency (WDA), Toll has developed core and advanced training segments to meet the demands of Singapore’s “Smart Nation” vision. As part of the move into Toll City, Toll will continue its work as a WDA in-house approved training operation (ATO) which will provide a framework for reviewing the use of technology and automation, thereby designing jobs that attract more young and mature locals to the logistics industry. “This enables us to internally create training programmes for all levels in our organisation. It enables us to standardise processes, it enables us to undertake tasks in the most cost-effective ways possible, enables us to do that safely, and it also provides education and career pathways within the logistics sector,” explains Pearce. Toll City logistics hub will be completed in mid-2017.

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LEADERS TALK HR have succession planning throughout the business. So we ensure that if I get hit by a bus tomorrow, we’ve got talent who can take my role. We have a whole heap of internal programmes around account management and how we deal with our customers and how we continually drive value back to them. We have internal training programmes around safety. We focus a lot around safety; it’s the number one priority in our business. Everybody has a right to go home safely and I’d never want that not to be the case in any business that I run. We have a whole range of management development programmes that ensure we get some of our managers over the line in terms of what they understand about the business. We also run a huge amount of programmes around continuous improvement. So, we use lean programmes like Six Sigma, and 5s+1 to ensure we continually drive the value back to the customers.


What do you consider to be the most challenging aspect of your role?

business. For me, we move stuff; so that’s the physical attribute of what we do. But really, we’re in the service industry. We’ve got to make sure that we’re providing the very best service to our clients and to our clients’ customers. I keep on talking about ensuring that we’re getting that value creation driven back to our customers.


What is your talent acquisition strategy? How else do you groom talent?

I think talent management in any organisation is one of the greatest challenges that we all face. Trying to make sure that you’ve got the best people in there to ensure you’re driving the right culture in an organisation is absolutely key. How we do that is by home-grown talent and making sure that we’ve got the best of the best from polytechnics and universities and then grooming them into the Toll Way. But also, from time to time, we recognise that we will need to go out into the marketplace and get professionals,

either through headhunters or through organisations that can actually go out there and acquire the right talent for us in areas that we are maybe a little weak in. But my preference is to generally get home-grown talent where we can. That’s particularly because it’s around the culture in which we work. So, you can get a lot of technical people out there; that’s a relatively easy thing to do, but getting technical people with the right cultural mindset is really important. It’s not just about getting results; it’s about how you get those results.


What is your top tip for aspiring leaders?

Always, always believe in yourself. There’s absolutely nothing in this world that is impossible. If you believe in it, the only thing you have got to work out is the path to achieve it.

I think the most challenging part of my role is helping people understand that we are actually a service-based business. We are not a logistics-based

ME MYSELF I I love: I love to be competitive - in all areas at work, and in my free time through various sports. I dislike: I dislike complacency and laziness. My inspiration is: To go as far as I can – at work and in life as a person. My biggest weakness is: “Giving people a lot of ropes; and then (they) hang themselves.” (Figuratively speaking) In five years’ time I’d like to be: I’d like all developments to come true in my work environment; and to have achieved my personal goals. Favourite quote: “Leadership is not an entitlement.” (A statement I heard somewhere that has stuck with me.)

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Workplace learning:


In the second of a special three-part series, HRM zooms in on the current learning platforms organisations can tap onto to train their workforces, and shares how the Institute of Adult Learning is leading the charge in developing technologically-savvy learning practices for working professionals


uring his speech to the Adult Learning Symposium last year, then Minister for Manpower Tan ChuanJin stressed that e-learning would become a fundamental aspect of Singapore’s Continuing Education and Training (CET) framework. He also explained the backbone of CET infrastructure would be further enhanced with technology.

Current training delivery methods E-learning is one of the current training 16 ISSUE 15.10


delivery methods employed by adult educators in the Training and Adult Education (TAE) sector. The Institute for Adult Learning (IAL) for example, has developed the CET e-learning courses or e-courses, to improve access to better and more avenues of learning, and to foster innovative and relevant skillsets within the Singapore workforce. These CET e-courses empower individuals to control their learning by permitting them to decide when they study and what they learn. They comprise

of short bite-sized learning segments and are intrinsically motivating, infusing humour and thought-provoking elements in local contexts. Sunny Phua, Adjunct Adult Educator in IAL, says he has personally witnessed the nature of e-learning improve by leaps and bounds in terms of content and presentation. “Today’s e-learning programmes are full of interaction and interesting multimedia activities which are able to engage the learners’ senses of sight, sound and

LEARNING & DEVELOPMENT touch. I find the presentation of content interesting and in line with my learning style. It helps in understanding the concepts being presented,” he explains. Phua says e-learning programmes present a better solution for working professionals, by leveraging on technology, He also stresses it is crucial for educators to decide on the appropriate learning management system or the authoring tools required to create the learning objects. His pointer tallies with the fact that extensive research is being undertaken globally to deduce the various optimal platforms for work and learning (see: boxout). Blended learning is another form of training delivery that is increasingly gaining traction. In fact, blended learning is no longer seen as just a combination of classroom training and e-learning. Rather, it is a mix of impactful content, effective teaching methodologies, and dissemination channels. Classroom-based learning is another option. This entails adult professionals learning in a physical setting, in contrast to e-learning platforms. Work-based content and rigorous assessment practices are the norm in this mode of teaching between instructors and learners. Companies are also warming up to the notion of workplace-based learning, where professionals are exposed to innovative and highly-technology infused curricula that can be applied to real-life situations in the workplace. According to Leslie Loh, Chairman of the Lithan Academy, this mode of learning delivers flexibility and minimises invasiveness to learners and their employers.

Shifting trends in training delivery Loh says there has been a proliferation of advanced learning technologies to make learning flexible and non-invasive to learners and employers. These include developing curriculum that resonates with reality-based training for practical application in the workplace, as well as leveraging on innovation and technology to offer training ‘on-the-

The RWL conference The boom in workplace learning platforms has not simply occurred at the stroke of a pen. Rather, it’s been a culmination of years of scientific research, analysis and understanding of different work and learning methods. In fact, there is even a conference that facilitates a multitude of discussions and presents breakthroughs in the field of workplace learning. The Researching Work and Learning conference is the leading international research conference series in the field of work and learning. Established in 1999 and convened every two years, the conference provides a critical platform for researchers and professionals to share research in work and learning, engage in dialogue with colleagues and experts from around the world, and deepen their knowledge in the areas of work and learning. The ninth International Conference on Researching Work and Learning will take place between December 9 and 11 at the School of the Arts Singapore. The unifying theme is Work and Learning in the Era of Globalisation: Challenges for the 21st Century. The conference will centre the exchange of ideas around the following questions: • How does globalisation mediate skills, performance and work? • What are the implications of the changing nature of work for learning through work? • In what ways can vocational education and training policies and systems be responsive to the changing nature of work and global and regional pressures? For further details, log on to http://www.rwl2015.com/ go’, something that caters to the busy lifestyle of the modern workforce. Two such initiatives spearheaded by the IAL are iN.LAB and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). iN.LAB is positioned as an inspiring place where the CET community can congregate to explore, collaborate and innovate solutions that enhance learning design and delivery, as well as learner engagement. With operations having started in August this year, iN.LAB comprises of training rooms, learning spaces, project rooms, a media production studio, audio recording and editing rooms, an ‘innovation showcase’ and collaborative areas to support enterprises, training partners and CET Practitioners to “explore”, “collaborate” and “contribute”. iN.LAB will facilitate the matchmaking of expertise among various CET stakeholders. It will also be a hub for knowledge exchange, including the sharing of best practices and innovative learning technologies and solutions. Meanwhile, the IAL will also curate programmes to rally innovation and support the growth of the CET community.

In recent years, MOOCs have also become a viable training platform for companies struggling with the labour crunch. MOOCs enable businesses to tap onto the vast array of learning resources available online and pick and choose courses that suit the needs of their employees, hence retaining a sense of flexibility in curriculum choices.

Taking the plunge Due to the ever-increasing connectivity of the globalised working world, organisations need to be forwardlooking and possess the confidence to venture into new learning modes. With a plethora of learning options available now, due to the massive surge in technology, organisations can reap handsome rewards by tapping into these methods of learning; leading to a nimble, dynamic and greatly upskilled workforce. The constant evolution of learning means it has never been more dynamic and exciting, and the stereotypical notion that training is rigid, mechanical and boring has been well and truly banished. ISSUE 15.10





How important is intuition in decision-making?

ntuition used to be relegated to the realm of pseudo-sciences in business decision making. Strategic decisions were, and are still, driven by an analytical approach involving statistics, charts and trend analyses. While having the numbers at their fingertips may give them a sense of control, it is their intuition or “gut feeling” that guides experienced business leaders to identify winning ideas. Intuitive decision making is a skill developed through experience, observation and self-awareness. Intuitive leaders learn to trust their instincts as young executives and the trust deepens in tandem with their domain expertise. However, both intuition and domain expertise take time to cultivate. New leaders may want to balance intuitive decision making with statistics, charts and facts, which

act as checks and balances. Part of the fear of intuitive decision making is tied up with the fear of failure. Fortunately, the present drive to create an innovation culture at the workplace, especially among start-up communities, is encouraging executives trust their instincts. Some workplaces are transforming into innovation playgrounds where executives can pursue creative projects without fear of failure. This is not to say that the intellect should take a backseat to intuition. Factors that can cloud intuitive decisionmaking include emotional bias and flawed background information. My preference is for an intuitive decision to be made after one has done the in-depth research and comparative analysis. Only when two equally good solutions present themselves should we rely on our gut instincts to choose the best one.


JONATHAN CHONG Chief Financial Officer, LYS Energy

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ntuition is an important part of decision-making, particularly when information is lacking and/or a hasty decision is necessary. Intuitive decision-making refers to decisions which do not rely on deliberate analysis or rational thought processes. However, intuition is more than just a “gut-feel” or “instinct”. It draws from a person’s past experiences, existing knowledge, and information at hand. A large part of intuition also comes from the lessons of past mistakes and bad decisions. Finally, intuition relies on one’s emotions, beliefs and values. In the business world, where the implications of a bad decision could mean millions of dollars, there tends to be a negativity associated with making intuitive decisions which cannot often be logically justified. Nonetheless, many business leaders use their intuition to make decisions where rational analysis is impracticable or impossible.


CEO, Lock+Store Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong

LYS Energy builds, owns, and operates solar systems and sells solargenerated electricity. As we pioneer new business models for renewable energy, our team often faces decisions with little to no precedent, and with much uncertainty. We rely on a mixture of data driven analysis, lessons learn from adjacent industries, as well as intuition to make our decisions. We are careful not to fall into the common traps of intuitive decisionmaking, which are inconsistency, and succumbing to pre-existing prejudices or emotions. Our leaders build an open environment which emphasizes communication in decision making. Good business leaders have the self-awareness to balance their rational faculties with their instincts and emotions, and the confidence to communicate and justify their decisions to their team. Like all skills, we believe strong intuitive decision-making comes with experience and practice.


Truly a place to call home Comfort and spaciousness epitomise Village Residence Robertson Quay, as HRM can attest to during its exclusive one-night stay


s I was ushered into my three-bedroom Suite for the night at Village Residence Robertson Quay, the first thing that struck me was the homely feeling that personified the entire apartment. The suite comprised of three bedrooms, including two with two queen-sized beds and another room featuring two-single beds – a perfect fit for the children of relocating employees. Within the generous 1,012 square feet, the unit features a fully functioning kitchen and a dining area, attractive options for families keen to whip up an appetising meal at home. The suite also comes with a balcony overlooking the Singapore River, and a complete bird’s eye view of the picturesque Clarke Quay – at the heart of Singapore’s tourism and entertainment district.

Activities galore For expats who have relocated

along with their families, there are a multitude of activity options for both adults and children at Village Residence Robertson Quay. Kids can frolic around in the swimming and wading pools located on the second floor, while parents can relax in the comforts of an outdoor jacuzzi. All apartments are also wired with complimentary Wi-Fi service and are fitted with cable TV, ensuring there is entertainment that caters to the needs of all ages. For expats wanting to unwind after a stressful day, there is always the option of exploring the trendy Robertson Quay at night, littered with a plethora of dining and nightlife options. However, residents living at Village Residence Robertson Quay are also strongly encouraged to embrace life as a local. Those keen on sampling Singapore’s distinctive hawker centre fare can head on down

Sham Majid sham@hrmasia.com.sg

3 Bedroom Living Room – Village Residence Roberston Quay to places such as Chinatown, Lau Pa Sat, and the Maxwell Food Centre to satiate their tastebuds with local delights. In addition, The Central Shopping Mall is only a 10-minute walk, while the Orchard Road shopping belt is also only a five-minute taxi ride from Village Residence. Of course, it’s not all about shopping and eating. Guests can also visit popular local sites such as the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Gardens by the Bay, and Sentosa: all are

within reasonable distance from Village Residence Robertson Quay by taxi.

The homely sheen Overall, my one-night stay at Village Residence Robertson Quay was a comfortable and pleasant experience, something other expats and their families living there will no doubt confirm. Comfort, warmth and homeliness are synonymous with Village Residence Robertson Quay.

Village Residence Robertson Quay Facade – Village Residence Robertson Quay

• Total number of units: 71 • Studios:12 • Two-bedroom Suites: 43 • Three-bedroom Suites: 16 ISSUE 15.10



Taking challenges


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A lot has been said about the hiring challenges in Singapore’s retail sector. HRM speaks to one local company which has been working hard to overcome them Muneerah Bee



ith 46 stores around Singapore, Challenger Technologies has been steadily growing since its humble beginnings as a single shop store in Sim Lim Square. It is now one of Singapore’s most recognisable retail brands. Today, Challenger also has three subsidiaries; Andios, an e-commerce marketplace portal; CBD eVision, part of the electronic signage industry; and inCall Systems, an outsourced business service provider which offers end-toend integrated marketing solutions. As its businesses grow, the company lists recruitment and retention as one of its key areas of HR focus. Tay Jo Lin, Head of HR, Challenger Technologies cites recruitment for retail as one of her biggest hurdles. Although the company has a low turnover rate for back office staff, attracting and keeping talent for its retail operations is slightly more challenging, given the tight labour market which has been affecting the retail industry as a whole.

AT A GLANCE Total number of employees at Challenger Technologies (Singapore): 480 employees Size of the HR Team (Singapore): 5 Key HR Focus Areas: - Recruitment and retention - Employee engagement - Training and development

One reason is the perceived long hours that come with working in retail, as well as the expected need to work on weekends - since that is when the best business is conducted. Jobseekers may also see retail operations as lowpaying work. To counter these perceptions, Challenger offers competitive salary and incentives, as well as flexible working arrangements. To get Singaporeans further interested in retail, Challenger recruits across multiple channels. “Besides engaging in traditional ways of recruitment in the newspapers, and walk-in interviews at the headquarters, we now also go out to the people,” Tay says. Challenger holds recruitment drives at its stores, and in cafes which are near the outlets. These events aim to showcase Challenger as a cool brand, a modern company, and part of a dynamic industry. “Challenger always comes to mind when buying IT products. So we want to move beyond the traditional image that people have of Challenger. I want to attract the young ones so we are reaching out to them now, and making it easier for them to contact us and apply for jobs,” Tay says. Potential employees can also register their interest to join the retail operations via text message. Although Singaporeans may not show much enthusiasm to join the retail industry, Challenger is determined to work around the issue.

For example, it is creating part-time work arrangements, where workers can choose the times they want to work and even the location they prefer. The regular pool of part time employees at Challenger can log into an online system and choose available shifts through the portal, akin to an online booking system. It also shows the location and salary for each job. The vacancies available are usually for periods where more headcount is needed, such as during weekends, lunch and dinner times, and public holidays. Each part-time shift supplements the full time staff at the stores. Employees can book the slot up to the day before. Tay says such flexibility is suitable for homemakers who are free in the afternoon, or those with adult children. Polytechnic and university students also make up the group of part time Singaporeans workers that Challenger taps on. The company is also working on internalising this within its system. The in-house system will be more robust and will also make it easier to do payroll calculations as the employees clock in and clock out, recording the exact timings in the system. Employees will also be able to choose the day and time of work up to a month in advance. In future, Challenger hopes to develop a mobile app to make it more convenient for its part timers to book their preferred timeslots and locations.

Training for the job Each retail store has varying manpower

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HR INSIDER Family culture “We may be a listed company now, but we are still very much like a family where we help each other,” Tay Jo Lin, Head of HR, Challenger Technologies proclaims when quizzed about the company’s employee culture. She recalls an instance where approximately 50 staff, the majority of whom were from back-of-house operations, volunteered at a large-scale three-day technology exhibition. “We couldn’t find enough promoters at the last minute so we all got together and rallied. We went down to the event and volunteered our time over the weekend,” she says. “So we are always helping one another if there is a need. It’s not an issue because everybody is very close, so it’s like helping a family member. Employees do not mind going the extra mile for the company because when we see our colleagues are overwhelmed or needing help we always pitch in with open arms.”

needs, from an average of three to four certification in line with the staff, for a Challenger Mini store, to Workplace Skills Qualification (WSQ) around 40 employees for the flagship framework for the retail sector. Being store at Funan DigitaLife Mall. an ATO means Challenger is able to To ensure employees are well merge the WSQ standards with its own equipped for the job, the retail operating procedures so that it can be personnel and promoters are sent for on par with national standards. training with various product vendors Employees learn about customer before key items are launched. Part service skills, and the procedures timers usually learn on the job and are and processes for certain functions trained by the store managers. HR will during the course. “Customer service also visit certain stores to do bite-size is important. We wouldn’t be here training on customer service when the if not for our customers. So it’s need arises. important to refresh the employees’ Taking training a step further, skills,” Tay says. Challenger became a The company aims to Workforce Development hold the courses every To ensure employees are Agency (WDA) accredited month, and the benefits training organisation have been clearly visible (ATO) in June last year. for the job, the retail personnel and already, as Tay shares. promoters are sent for training with “We have seen better A WDA-approved course various product vendors before key attitudes from staff is conducted to give items are launched Challenger employees who have taken up the opportunities to learn and training. They feel more add value to the company. “We realise motivated, and they also have a bigger we need to attract local employees sense of belonging,” she says. further, and we want to give them For example, one customer service something that they can value-add to employee found the course to be a themselves. These are also portable good refresher, and was energised to skills which are useful across the return to work brimming with ideas. industry,” Tay says. “Sometimes employees get so caught Since July this year, employees who up in the moment at work that they have been with the company for at forget they have to upgrade their least a year have been encouraged skills, that there are things to learn, to sign up for the course. They can new ways of dealing with customers, earn an Interact with Customers or opportunities to streamline our

well equipped

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processes and procedures to ensure the customer experience is more holistic,” Tay says. Tay also sees this as a way to recognise employees for their contributions to the company, and for helping them to become better at what they do. While only retail staff goes through the WSQ Interact with Customers certification, managers stand to benefit from the Dale Carnegie courses to improve leadership skills. They learn about leading and bringing their teams to the next level. As most retail managers join the stores from an entry level and move up the ranks, they may not have had the opportunity to fully develop their social and team management skills as they were coming up those ranks. So this avenue of professional coaching boosts their skills in managing their team competently. It helps them set more achievable goals, have more effective communication with their team, and unite and motivate the team to collectively achieve the stores’ targets. They also learn about managing the different dynamics of each individual, Tay shares.

For the long haul Debunking the myth that retail is not a job that people want to do permanently, Challenger has many examples of staff who joined it at entry level and moved up the career ladder to be managers or operation managers of a geographical zone. Some have even moved to the back office to take on non-retail roles in the Challenger headquarters. For example, in 2007, an employee joined Challenger as a Retail Associate. He rose through the ranks and was made a Retail Executive in 2013, giving him responsibility of the store. He was subsequently promoted to be a Retail Manager. In mid-2015, he was transferred to the merchandising department at the headquarters, as a Merchandising Manager.

HR INSIDER Career progressions for staff also include moving across the subsidiaries into vacancies which are in line with their experience and skills. That’s especially true for employees who have shown potential. “As we are a very close-knit family, it’s very easy for management to communicate with operations to identify such employees,” Tay says.

HR help is always around To encourage employee retention, Tay says HR sometimes looks at job redesigns, to allow employees to grow to the best of their potential. “Instead of getting rid of an employee who may be strong in a lot of areas but weak in certain areas, we can change the job a bit to suit the person, and match their areas of strengths instead. Or we can put the employee in another department if it is a better fit.” For staff who have experienced a dip in performance, HR will initiate counselling to discuss any issues that need to be addressed and see what can be done to support them in their role. “Although the working hours for retail are very different from ours, our employees know they can reach us on any day. They do call me on

weekends if there are issues, and I’ll try to resolve them. “We are always contactable, and I don’t see any other barriers. We want our staff to know that they can still communicate with headquarters without going through their managers. They need to know that there is an open channel to us,” Tay says. HR also goes to the ground floor, and visits the stores themselves to reach out and touch base with retail employees. She shares, “I keep in very close touch with operations. I go down to the outlets on a monthly basis to touch base with them. That’s the best way to connect with them.”

Casting a wider net As part of its strategy to recruit across various platforms, Challenger participates in the Ministry of Defence Career Summit to hire people who are leaving military service and transiting into the civilian workforce. “I realise that there are a potential pool of employees who are currently in the service. These people may have served in the Singapore Army, Air Force or Navy for five to fifteen years so they have the discipline and they work towards their goals,” Tay says. “I believe it’s very important to

have discipline in order to perform well at work. They also know how to manage and maintain discipline within a team. For example, someone in the service who is handling logistics is very useful for us in managing inventory,” Tay explains. The company has held two recruitment drives with the ministry over the last year, where its HR team had the chance to interact with potential employees. Moving forward as a company, Challenger will continue to look into its manpower policies and leverage on technology to help its employees work better. For example, the company has managed to reduce manual labour, and save on printing costs and storage space by switching to using tablets instead of paper forms when signing up customers as members. With the new paperless process, the information keyed into the device is stored directly in an internal database, saving the hassle of having to repeatedly copy the information. The company is definitely open to exploring other possibilities to improve its productivity and overcome manpower challenges. “We are an IT company, so if it’s viable and feasible, we’ll explore it,” Tay concludes.




Senior Manager, HR



HR and Training Executive

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Bringing out the best in SMEs

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Collectively, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the largest group of employers in Singapore. However, their HR teams are often focused on transactional activities rather than building HR policies. Spring Singapore’s new Human Capital Movement in SMEs aims to bridge this gap. In an exclusive special, HRM chats with the 10 Volunteer HR Directors who are spearheading this mission to make HR in SMEs more strategic.


ustaining competitiveness continues to be a key concern for companies in today’s tight labour market. There is often a trade-off between business growth and investing in employees. Recognising this challenge, Spring Singapore has launched the Human Capital Movement in SMEs. The initiative hopes to highlight the importance of developing strong HR capabilities and talent management within small and medium-sized businesses as a way to attract and retain talent.

Human capital advocates As SMEs are often constrained by their HR capability and capacity, Spring Singapore is building a community of ambassadors to drive the importance of human capital development. A group of volunteer HR directors from the private and public sectors have been appointed to share their expertise through learning platforms. These SME Human Capital Advocates will share with SMEs their HR perspectives and experiences in talent development. Comprising of HR directors from both the private and public sectors, the ten advocates will engage SME bosses or HR managers on a voluntary basis, and share their perspectives and experiences of talent development and human capital strategies for business growth. This will help SME HR teams that spend most of their time on transactional HR activities, such as payroll and processing work, which comes at the expense of more strategic HR activities like talent management and development.

Supporting HR capability building Spring Singapore, in partnership with consulting firm Hay Group, has also developed a new diagnostic tool for SMEs to build their HR capabilities. The tool will help SMEs to better assess the current state of their HR maturity, and identify

necessary intervention points. SMEs will also be able to identify gaps in their HR management and development processes, and the steps needed to address them. Slated to reach out to 1,000 SMEs in the next three years, a pilot run of the tool was conducted with around 180 SMEs across various industries last year. Results from the pilot showed that most of the SMEs were especially weak in the area of learning and development. Spring Singapore hopes that by having an accurate assessment of their HR capabilities, SMEs will move towards policies that value people development in order to achieve business success. SMEs can also benefit from themedworkshops to enhance their HR knowledge, as well as the Capability Development Grant that can be applied to projects that upgrade HR capabilities.

Improving employer branding Some SMEs with good HR practices are building their brands by connecting with various education providers to participate in career road shows, and to offer scholarships and internships. Spring Singapore plans to work with these SMEs in branding themselves as employers of choice, and will also work with trade associations, chambers of commerce, and higher learning institutes to increase the number of student

engagement activities that SMEs can be involved in. Spring Singapore will also work with SMEs to engage young talent and to showcase promising career opportunities, and celebrate their success with public recognition and profiling. “A unique employer proposition helps companies gain a distinctive advantage over their competitors. Hence, SMEs need to develop a conducive workplace culture and environment to attract new talents and encourage existing employees to grow with their company. Understanding the need for a strong HR foundation, the government will continue to work together with businesses and unions, as tripartite efforts are needed to support SMEs to develop HR capabilities and build talent, and drive momentum for this movement,” Chew Mok Lee, Assistant Chief Executive of Spring Singapore, says.

Call for action All of the 10 volunteer HR directors hope their efforts will inspire their fellow HR counterparts to serve the SME community as well. Concurrently, Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say, who launched the Human Capital Movement in SMEs initiative on July 30 this year, encourages SME bosses to step up their focus on the most valuable capital of the future: the human capital.

Upgrading capabilities In his speech at the launch of Human Capital Movement in SMEs on 30 July, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say shared an example of how one SME has benefitted from the initiative. Soon Aik Holdings, an engineering firm serving the automotive and marine industries, had difficulties in attracting talent to support its business expansion. By leveraging on the HR diagnostic tool, Soon Aik upgraded its HR capability with the support of Spring Singapore’s Capability Development Grant. The company has also strengthened its career progression and succession planning frameworks to better attract and retain talent.

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Why did you decide to be a Volunteer HR Director? I am always looking for opportunities to give back to society and have dabbled from serving in soup kitchens to cleaning houses. I believe that volunteering is a great and fun way to learn. When the opportunity to be a volunteer HR director in the Human Capital Movement came up, I thought it would be great to enable others in my professional domain.

ANGELINE OH Senior Vice-President, HR, CapitaLand Limited

Have you already started working with an SME to share best practices? Any examples? I met my partner SME for the first time recently. We started by understanding the diagnostics and by sharing some common challenges and validating some of the practices. Reviewing and reflecting on how work is done in a conscientious manner is important. This is the first step to continual improvement. As the relationship grows, I look forward to sharing best practices.

Will the new diagnostic tool for SMEs be a major barometer in implementing best HR practices for organisations? The volunteer HR directors use the initial result from the diagnostic tool to delve deeper into the enterprise’s talent needs. From there, we can suss out some areas for focus and make recommendations after speaking to the CEO. It helps create a common language between the volunteer HR directors and the SMEs.

MATTHIAS GOH Director, Human Resources & Organisation Development, SPRING Singapore

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How will the Human Capital Movement improve the HR fraternity as a whole? To truly unhinge the mind-set of enterprises to the full potential of having excellent people practices, it is crucial for enterprises to recognise that running good HR operations and training is fundamental in catalysing the multiplying effect of excellent people practices. The Human Capital Movement aims to help enterprises improve their people practices and strengthen their internal HR systems which would in turn, enhance the capability of the HR

Are there any particular human capital development aspects SMEs can adopt from their MNC counterparts? SMEs need to be more open to the use of technology as it can free up time and resources, and remove more operational work so people can focus on value creation. It is also important that changes are considered and managed carefully. Every organisation is different and we need to be respectful of the culture and stage of growth the company is in.

Will the Human Capital Movement in SMEs encourage more SMEs to step forward and tap on the expertise and best practices of Volunteer HR Directors? I certainly hope so! I think the Human Capital Movement creates a healthy environment for HR sharing, with no judgement, no hidden agenda – just HR practitioners trying to build a community. SMEs can now reach out to experienced practitioners for support and another point of view, just like having your own trusted advisor to give you an alternative point of view!

practitioners in the participating enterprises.

How can the themed workshops help SMEs to be equipped with HR knowledge? SMEs can participate in the themed workshops to gain an understanding of the various best practices in those areas of HR. This would help them gain a broader sense of the practices today and help them decide if their organisation is ready to embark on some of those practices.

Will the Human Capital Movement in SMEs encourage more SMEs to step forward and to tap on the expertise and best practices of Volunteer HR Directors? The response we have gotten so far is encouraging! The volunteer HR directors who had been assigned have given feedback that the sessions were insightful while the participating enterprises have commented on its benefits and have requested for additional sessions. We hope this would encourage more SMEs to step forward.

HUMAN CAPITAL MOVEMENT IN SMEs Why did you decide to be a Volunteer HR Director? Over a cup of tea with Christophane Foo from Spring, she highlighted that SMEs need help in Human Capital Management (HCM) but that they do not have the capacity to hire senior HR professionals to provide more strategic advice. Thus, we spoke about pooling together a group of HR professionals to do some volunteer or community work to help SMEs. She took the conversation further and created the movement platform to what it is today.


Head of HR, Singapore, Fujitsu Asia

Can you share an example of an HR best practice you have shared with an SME to drive business growth? The SME I adopted was struggling in getting their technical subject matter experts to be managers as they were reluctant to lose their domain technical skill to manage people. I advised the CEO that he needed those technical SMEs to continually drive the technical services revenue for the business. Instead, as a retention tool, he should consider creating two career pathways such

Why did you decide to be a Volunteer HR Director?

D N PRASAD Director, Google People Services, Asia-Pacific, Google

I grew as a professional, privileged to be mentored by some fantastic people. They guided me, asked me tough questions, challenged me with more responsibilities, trusted me, and were fabulous role models. Having seen and experienced the value, I have always believed in “passing on the favour” and I do spend some time coaching and mentoring. When I was invited by SPRING to be a part of this movement, I found an opportunity to do my bit for Singapore (which has been a treasured home for almost seven years) and for the HR fraternity. It helps though, that Google is also active in partnering with the government and contributing to the society we operate in.

How can SMEs formulate robust HR policies and frameworks, with help from the Volunteer HR Directors? I was at the inauguration of the movement, and, have had an opportunity to meet the team from one of the SMEs I will work with. Let us be clear; their heart is in the right place and they have a vision. They also realise and


as a managerial track and technical track to groom the individuals to own their careers in his company.

What are some of the important HR functions that SMEs should focus on? Each SME is different and is in different phases of developing their business. What is important to one SME may not be something another SME should be focusing on. Thus, understanding the nature of the business, revenue size, sustainability in the industry landscape, change management readiness, state and availability of staff capacity, and capability in each SME is essential. We need to be mindful that SMEs do not have the financial and resource bandwidth like the MNCs.

How will the Human Capital Movement improve the HR fraternity as a whole? At whatever size or phase a company is in, HR is an important business driver and enabler as a company will not function without people. The movement will bring forth a greater awareness on this front.

appreciate that people should be in the front and centre of their strategy. The HR directors can coach them, review and critique the plan, share best practices, and guide in prioritising.

Have you already started working with an SME to share best practices? Any examples? I have just met the leadership team from the SME I have been paired with to advise them. We reviewed the Diagnostic report, and discussed their current strategy. And, while a bunch of best practices were discussed and debated – notably in the talent management space, it is too early to comment on these.

Are there any particular human capital development aspects SMEs can adopt from their MNC counterparts? Let us remember that the best practices are always tied to a context and also to the culture. So, a direct adoption will not work. Having said, the frameworks, the approach, the thought process behind a best practice and the execution rigour can be understood and adopted as the situation demands. ISSUE 15.10




How can SMEs formulate robust HR policies and frameworks, with help from the Volunteer HR Directors?


Senior Director, Human Resources & Organisation Development, Singapore University of Technology and Design


Head of Human Resources, Southeast Asia & Decision Analytics, Asia-Pacific, Experian

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Most of the SMEs in Singapore lack professional HR capabilities to attract, retain and reward their human capital. Most of them are worried about bread and butter issues, so this key area of development has been neglected. The companies don’t realise that strong HR practices will help drive capabilities and attract good talents. Our role as volunteer HR directors is to mentor and guide them to become aware that HR plays an important role in the organisation. Secondly, our role is to give them practical advice to start developing such awareness, and to guide them in the steps of how to do it. This might involve several meetings to follow up and to then guide them on the implementation.

What are some of the HR improvements SMEs can make to brand themselves as the employers of choice?

robust systems and processes to build strong HR practices. They can then begin the task of building a unique value proposition to potential employees and to keep their current core.

What is the biggest challenge you face when working with an SME? The biggest challenge for them is the lack of resources and capabilities to build HR competencies. They may not see this as a key and vital area of development, but the company’s survival depends on strong HR policies and structures to deliver productivity and success. My advice to them is to start small, and make incremental steps and improvement. Once they see the results, they will start to believe in it.

Will the Human Capital Movement in SMEs encourage more SMEs to step forward and tap on the expertise and best practices of Volunteer HR Directors?

Before SMEs embark on branding exercises, they have to fix their foundation. They have to put in

I hope so. This is just the beginning. You need a matchstick to light a fire. We hope to see this spread, in a good way.

What are some of the important HR functions that SMEs should focus on?

Why is there a strong call for SMEs to adopt human capital development as a core HR initiative?

With the benefit of working in both MNC and SME environments, an area I feel SMEs should focus on is talent development. Most SMEs struggle with retention issues and the damage is more pronounced if the loss is a regrettable attrition (a talent). Singapore’s economic performance has been relatively stable and unemployment remains low. We continue to be an ideal location for MNCs and as such, there is constant competition for talent. SMEs can and should do more to develop talent and establish clear and exciting career pathways.

The SME community can be a strong engine of growth for SMEs. As they dominate the business landscape in terms of the number of establishments and employees, the strengthening of this community will have a direct material impact on Singapore’s GDP. Human Capital Development is just one area SMEs can strategically elevate themselves to compete better, expand overseas, manage cost, and increase their revenue and profit.

How can employees benefit from the Human Capital Movement? Majority of employees in Singapore are working with SMEs. Hopefully, through this Human Capital Movement, employers will realise the value of strengthening their management of their talents, engaging and developing their employees, and also recognising how effective engagement of employees will have a material positive impact on their business.

What are some of the HR improvements SMEs can make to brand themselves as the employers of choice? Many SMEs suffer from poor image due to factors such as a lack of professionalism, best practices, and so on. Building the HR foundations - sound processes, systems, reasonable size teams, proper documentation, and so on - is critical. Above these would be excellent business partnering, positive engagement with employees, talent development, and more.

HUMAN CAPITAL MOVEMENT IN SMEs What are some of the important HR functions that SMEs should focus on?

How will the Human Capital Movement improve the HR fraternity as a whole?

SMEs know they need people to sustain business, let alone grow the business. However, today’s focus is on getting manpower just to do the job. The key is getting good people to join and keeping good people within. To do that, SMEs must show that they are good employers and that they care for the company’s growth, care for

The group of us here strongly believe in the strategic value of HR, but we also see how HR can be relegated to just looking at hiring and firing process and payroll. We hope this movement will get bosses to see what good HR can do and to accord that responsibility on HR. There is strength in numbers and as we get more and more HR professionals on this journey, the sharing and learning will spread far and wide.

the people and will treat them fairly, recognise them, and help them grow and remain relevant.

CHRISTOPHANE FOO Executive Director (Human Capital & Organisation Development), SPRING Singapore

How can SMEs formulate robust HR policies and frameworks, with help from the Volunteer HR Directors?

Being so small, how does one choose to spend their time and energy? Looking for new business? Looking at how best to manage the finance? Looking at innovating new products? Looking at how to bring in the right people? I don’t think we are asking for SMEs to prioritise these and one is definitely not mutually exclusive. We are asking SMEs to first have a talent mindset.

Why did you decide to be a Volunteer HR Director?

conferences to “download” knowledge (10%).

Have you already started working with an SME to share best practices? Any examples?

Group HR Director, Zalora

What is the biggest challenge you face when working with an SME?

The volunteer HR directors have the knowledge of progressive HR practices and the experiences to advice on what works and what doesn’t and in what context to best do something. The interaction between the volunteer HR directors and the SME bosses is one of mutual respect where two peers share and learn. The decision to take action on the advice lies with the SME boss, and he or she can tap on the HR director as a coach or mentor in his implementation.

I believe that human capital management is the key in gaining a competitive advantage for an organisation, across industries and geographies. In this spirit, I hope to make a significant difference in enabling good human capital management practices to be contextualised and to flourish in SMEs. Besides, by serving my HR community and my country, I am also learning.



I started sharing my perspective and guidance with an assigned SME’s CEO and her HR senior manager two months ago. One key leveraged HR practice is my advocating of the 70/20/10 approach to development. In my observation, SMEs tend to rely solely on sending their staff for skills training and consider that as staff development. In the 70/20/10 development approach, staff development consists of 70% of the time practising and perfecting the job role, interacting and sharing with fellow colleagues and external bodies such as professional bodies (20%), and attending workshops or

Why is there a strong call for SMEs to adopt human capital development as a core HR initiative? Two reasons: Scale and Leverage. According to the Ministry of Manpower, 70% of our workforce is working for SMEs. This huge workforce representation translates to a large employee population benefitting from the uplifting of human capital practice. To enable Singapore to thrive in the next 50 years, human capital practice cannot be stuck at HR administration excellence.

What is the biggest challenge you face when working with an SME? Although I have yet to encounter this situation with my assigned client, I foresee the biggest obstacle is having full buy-in from the CEO’s direct reports who report to the former. A CEO’s influence is no doubt the strongest in any organisation, but without the full buy-in and advocacy from the people who execute and advocate the advancement of human capital development, the targeted result will not be realised, for sure. ISSUE 15.10




Why did you decide to be a Volunteer HR Director? IE is a government agency that helps companies to internationalise. And as part of our work, we also received feedback from companies that finding and retaining manpower can be a challenge, especially when the war for talent is intensifying. Having been a part of an organisation that has more than 35 offices based overseas, I know that having strong leadership and right HR systems and approaches is critical to helping companies prepare themselves for growth and internationalisation.

CLARENCE HOE Group Director, Human Resources Group, International Enterprise Singapore

Director, Human Resources and Organisation Development, Singapore Economic Development Board

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How can employees benefit from the Human Capital Movement? Every organisation hopes they have a motivated and engaged workforce. Hence, the employees should benefit by seeing a workplace where they are clear on the growth opportunities, and that they are motivated to be a part of that.

What are some of the important HR functions that SMEs should focus on?

Why is there a strong call for SMEs to adopt human capital development as a core HR initiative?

For a start, SMEs tend to focus on just ensuring that they have robust payroll and administration systems so that they can provide competitive jobs and packages. As SMEs get bigger, the needs of the workforce will change. They will need to ensure they can develop a strong employer value proposition through a progressive corporate culture, clear job roles, fair performance recognition and aspirational career pathways. Thus, SMEs will

Earlier this year, DP Information Group (Singapore’s veteran information and credit bureau) shared that SMEs with international business elements have reduced from 54% in 2012 to 46% in 2013. One of the key reasons behind this was the availability of manpower. Should SMEs want to continue to grow and be relevant in the current global economy, they need to look at enhancing their ability to attract and retain talents.

How can SMEs formulate robust HR policies and frameworks, with help from the Volunteer HR Directors?


need to place greater investment in talent management, career training and development and leadership development.

Firstly, it is important for the SMEs to believe in this movement. We are very heartened that many SMEs do believe that investing in their people will reap tremendous long term rewards for their companies in the future. Once the belief is there, the rest will come in nicely, and we as volunteers are always there to guide the SMEs one step at a time. It is a community that we are building here, and through this community, a strong support network is created to support the SMEs in their journey.

What do you think is the biggest challenge you face when working with an SME? I have met a few SMEs who shared that there are limits to what they can realistically do in talent management and leadership development in view of their relatively smaller size. I agree that this is a valid consideration, but we can get around this creatively. I encourage SMEs to work with their suppliers and customers to create a

long-term partnership in human capital development. This creates the scale to allow for more effective investment in leadership development, and also creates more avenues for staff exposure so as to develop and retain them in the long term.

Will the Human Capital Movement in SMEs encourage more SMEs to also step forward? We are certainly hopeful, but we will let our track record and results speak for itself!

Do you think this initiative will spur more HR professionals to step forward and volunteer? Definitely. In my conversations with SMEs, recognition on the importance of good people practices, and the motivation to want to implement talent development well is definitely there. They just need to be guided on the “how”, which many experienced HR professionals can come in to support. This is a wonderful effort to rally the collective energies and expertise of all our passionate HR professionals to boost the level of HR thought and practice leadership in Singapore.

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DIFFERENT LIGHT More employees are expecting more flexibility at their workplaces, and it’s HR professionals that are under pressure to meet those needs. HRM looks at what makes employees speak up for change, and how HR can address their concerns Naadiah Badib


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n the globalised workforce that it is today, HR professionals are constantly under pressure to go out of their way to better manage employees. According to survey conducted by employment website Monster, 35% of employees have contemplated leaving their jobs due to a stressful work environment. Another 42% of those polled have also “purposely” left their current position, because of such a workplace. In a separate survey by Monster, it was found that an employee’s relationship with their boss is the most common cause of workplace stress. This was followed by the level of workload, work-life balance, and relationships with fellow colleagues. However, there is more to workplace stress than meets the eye. Nearly half of the staff surveyed reported having missed time at work due to work-related stress, while a sizeable 61% stated that such stress have resulted in physical illness, insomnia, depression, or family issues. This translates into increased pressure for HR to meet the expectations and satisfactions of employees. Indeed, many US companies have now changed their work policies to accommodate more flexibility. For example, US apparel brand Abercrombie & Fitch has put in efforts to recreate its brand image after being pressured and criticised for a biased hiring policy that placed a premium on good looks. As a result, store associates will no longer be hired based on body type or physical attractiveness, and their titles will be changed from “model” to “brand representative”. The company will also no longer

employ shirtless men at its stores or events. Its’ retail outlet paper bags, previously decorated with half-naked models, are now plain black. American apparel retailer Gap also announced changes to its work policies in August. Its system of having on-call shifts, which required employees to be available to recover shifts that are cancelled at the last minute, will be phased out. This comes after feedback from regulators and workers’ rights

Seven ways to make your employees happier • Show appreciation: Create recognition programmes to celebrate jobs well done. Take time to give personal praises whenever possible. • Provide opportunities: Give individuals a clear career advancement path and allow for cross-training. • Communicate: Meet with your staff on a regular basis to keep them updated and motivated. • Lead by example: Show that you’re as committed to the long term future of the company as you’re asking your employees to be. • Stay positive: If you have a problem with someone, or a mistake has been made, address it in private. • Let your hair down: Socialise with your staff. • Avoid overwork: Time away from work increases people’s energy and creativity and is just as crucial. Employees have family and outside interests that help balance their lives. Source: Monster UK

groups, who believed the policy was detrimental to employees and their families.

Road for improvement It is almost impossible to meet every employee’s needs. Thus, companies are naturally bound to experience hiccups when ensuring employee satisfaction. Adele Png, Head of Talent Acquisition at Philips Southeast Asia and Pacific, says, “Employees speak up for change because some aspects of their current work environment just isn’t working for them.” “Organisations must facilitate and embrace feedback by providing a culture that not only encourages employees to speak up, but also provides them with the tools and channels they need to do so.” Typically at Philips, issues and feedback are tabled for discussions in management and HR meetings. This is followed by robust discussions on possible solutions or potential policy changes. Similarly, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts conducts regular feedback sessions with employees to counter any issues faced at work. Seen as a key factor to unite the workforce together, these sessions seeks inputs from employees across the organisation. Debbie Cross, Senior Vice President of HR at Shangri-La International Hotel Management, says the company encourages open feedback and listens to experiences to help improve each individual’s career. Such sittings involve senior leaders meeting with more junior colleagues in face-to-face dialogues. “Colleagues are randomly selected and are encouraged to share feedback about their experience as an ISSUE 15.10



“Employees speak up for change because some aspects of their current work environment just isn’t working for them” Adele Png, Head of Talent Acquisition at Philips Southeast Asia and Pacific

employee,” Cross says. “They share feedback on elements of working for Shangri-La that they like and wish to continue; areas they don’t consider effective; and ideas they would like to implement.” Additionally, Shangri-La conducts an online employee engagement survey which is implemented annually. “The process is currently being reviewed to initiate more frequent pulse surveys in future, where with smaller groups of colleagues can provide instantaneous feedback,” she explains. “While it’s not always feasible to implement all of the feedback, there are always some elements that are updated or introduced and the follow-up is communicated to all colleagues.” Media network Group M practices a regular approach for employees to submit their feedback. Gareth Ling, Chief Talent Officer of GroupM says, “We encourage continuous informal and formal feedback.” “The only constant is change and we’re ready to adapt based on constructive feedback. Conventional ways of doing things frustrate employees.” With Group M’s recent new positioning and brand refresh, Ling 34 ISSUE 15.10


shares that the company will be able to enter into new spaces. He stresses that collaboration is critical to embrace change. “We are hiring talent to build the future of GroupM and how we train and develop our current talents is important to creating a sustainable business,” he says. Currently, GroupM has a wide variety of measures to collate feedback in an effort to create a better workforce for both employers and employees. Primarily, online tools are used as effective ways to reach out to staff and to help gather feedback. These channels also help to address key issues throughout the employee lifecycle.

GroupM’s current digital onboarding tool, Redcarpet, also provides the employer with feedback right from the beginning.

Getting involved In an effort to inspire innovative ideas from staff, Shangri-La recently hosted a competition for employees. They were invited to submit creative solutions to three sets of challenges. “This gave colleagues an opportunity to impact on the design of future programmes initiated by our corporate office,” Cross shares. “Three ideas were shortlisted and prizes were given to the colleagues who submitted the ideas.” “The ideas were uploaded to a centralised portal and resulted in many proposals that can be implemented, in addition to those shortlisted for the prize.” Where employee satisfaction is a priority, Philips implements various channels to encourage staff feedback. They include quarterly surveys, the Philips online community, the HR intranet portal (called ‘Ask HR’), an ethics hotline, and regular companywide town hall meetings. “Naturally, all employees are also encouraged to raise anything urgent or pressing with their immediate managers or with an HR representative,” Png says.

Would you sacrifice for work-life balance? When it comes to making career sacrifices to achieve work-life balance, men are more likely to make changes. According to the 2015 EY Global Generations survey, one-third of full-time workers said that managing a day job and having ‘a life’ has become tougher over the past five years. A sizeable 67% of men polled have changed or are willing to change jobs to better manage work and family lives. Some 52% of women said the same thing. Additionally, 57% of men said they had given up a promotion for work-life balance reasons, as compared to 49% of women. However, 46% of women are more likely to move jobs to be closer to family, while only 38% of men would be more likely.


Unique to its kind, Group M makes and a fun atmosphere at work. it a point for several employees to Apart from that, GroupM also be involved in collating feedback. In provides flexible working for its staff. fact, the company has assembled a “We practise ‘agility’ in the office, team of individuals who are dedicated where employees can take the option to measuring employee satisfaction. to work from home,” says Ling. “More recently, we have launched “We hold talent accountable for a GroupM eMpower team who get output, not presentism.” great feedback from throughout Still, ensuring employee the organisaton and have executive satisfaction remains an important sponsors who mentor goal. them,” Ling explains. Shangri-La has in place “So the leadership several activities that help is not afraid to hear to ensure its employees updates.” have a healthy work-life employees polled have selfbalance. reported encounters with Prioritising employee’s “We host a ‘colleague’s “presenteeism” happiness week’ once a year with Report by Morneau Shepell, The True Picture of According to a report a different theme each Workplace Absenteeism by Morneau Shepell, day of the week to show The True Picture of recognition to colleagues Workplace Absenteeism, and to educate further on eight out of 10 employees polled different themes,” Cross shares. have self-reported encounters with “This year included a day focused “presenteeism”. specifically on having a successful A sizeable 81% of them admitted to career with a healthy work-life attending work despite being unfit balance.” and unable to perform as well as they Philips too has implemented would have liked to. policies that ensure employees can This was as a result of physical illness fit their personal lives in effectively (47%), stress or anxiety (40%), problems around their work commitments. at work, and depression (15%). Some of the specific programmes In a separate survey, employees held include Sunshine Fridays, where found work-life balance an ideal that staff are allowed to leave work earlier was impossible to achieve. to enjoy afternoons and evenings with According to Randstad US Employee families. Engagement report, 45% of staff Other standard policies at Philips believed exactly that. Another 46% comprises of Family Care Leave and of them also said they still worried a First Day of School scheme which about work while they were away. ensures employees do not miss out on To counter such issues from key family milestones. happening, an increasing number of “Employees should be mindful that companies feel there is a need to put the organisation has to consider the in place specific strategies. wider employee community as well, Among the popular approaches and try to balance off their needs with is practicing good health. Lately, individuals, considering fairness, impact GroupM has put in place a health on productivity, cost, as well as benefit and wellness programme for all to broader community,” says Png. employees. “So, they need to accept that the Ling shares that the activities include change may not be immediate, and zumba and yoga. Health talks are also while they will be considered, not all organised to create health awareness requests can be implemented.”

8 out of 10

Are you happy at work? Working long hours in the office does not necessarily mean unhappiness. The Staples Advantage Workplace Index showed that 53% of US employees feel overworked and burnt out, but 86% of them are still happy at work and are motivated to rise in their organisations. Approximately two-thirds of respondents were determined to advance in the company as they believed they were able to rise to the role of managers over the next five years. Despite being happy at work, about one in five of these employees expected to change jobs in the following 12 months. However, some of the requests that respondents said would help included: • Providing flexible schedules: 35% • Having managers remind them to take breaks: 33% • Improving the technology they used to do work: 28%

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Taking the road less travelled HRM investigates how some firms are seeing benefits reaped from facilitating secondments and sabbaticals for their staff

Sham Majid sham@hrmasia.com.sg


elicia Wong, Youth Movement manager for the Singapore People’s Association (PA), thoroughly enjoys working with her colleagues. But a few years ago, she needed a break “to recharge and find a new perspective in life”. Hence, she decided to take a two-year unpaid sabbatical from the organisation. “Another main reason for taking a sabbatical is that I always have had a strong desire to travel. “I don’t want to be stuck in one place, living there for the rest of my life. There is so much of the world to be seen, and I don’t want to miss out,” she explains. But how did her employer respond to her request for a sabbatical? Wong, who has been working at PA for around five years, says they were positive and supportive of her request. Thereafter, she applied for a work and travel holiday visa to New Zealand. During her two-year sabbatical, Wong worked in a vineyard, a farm, a restaurant and also helped out at a youth hostel in exchange for accommodation. Besides working, she also travelled extensively, backpacking across New Zealand’s North Island and South Island. During the time, Wong stayed with relatives and also travelled to Fiji.

While Wong says her sabbatical helped her to be more adventurous, disciplined and determined, she believes that there are concerns about how it will be taken professionally. “It might not look good on my résumé as most employers don’t look too kindly to gaps in employment,” she states. “But I believe that some employers will see the benefits in this.” “Having the opportunity to work and travel in New Zealand has helped me to understand the differences of cultures and it has made me become even more independent, to go outside of my comfort zone and to go out of my normal routine.” Meanwhile, Alex Cheong, an Account Manager with Text100, was keen to experience and understand the different dynamics and challenges of working in a different environment. Hence, he undertook a secondment, a temporary transfer to another department. “Having been part of the Asia-Pacific hub team for several years, I was able to share insights into the strategic role a hub plays, the benefits it offers to clients, and important considerations when liaising with multiple markets across the region to ensure strong and timely communications,” says Cheong. ISSUE 15.10


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SABBATICALS & SECONDMENTS “In addition, the secondment involved participating in our Sydney office’s routine account activities, such as brainstorming for creative campaign ideas; discovering the unique types of work and services that were executed on behalf of our clients in Australia; and identifying ways to inject a fresh perspective into tackling communications challenges back in Singapore.” Cheong reaffirmed his belief that his secondment has benefitted his career. “There are similarities in Singapore and Australia’s media landscapes, and I picked up a number of useful tips just by observing the interactions among my colleagues, the media and clients,” he says. “There have been a couple of occasions since I completed my secondment that I’ve had to make urgent requests to my Sydney-based colleagues for materials or queries by existing clients, and these friendships do help smooth things through.” However, not every organisation views sabbaticals and secondments in such a positive light. According to the 2014 National Study of Employers report, the least common types of workplace flexibility offered to at least some employees were: working part year (18%), receiving special consideration when returning after an extended career break (20%), taking sabbaticals (28%) and sharing jobs (29%). In fact, the report cited that organisations have reduced their provision of flexible working choices for staff. Moreover, the 2014 State of the Career: Navigating Ambiguity report found that 58% of employers polled provided secondments and temporary assignments in 2014, with only 35% finding them “useful”.

The Text100 way However, Elizabeth MacPherson, AsiaPacific HR Director, Text100, stresses that sabbaticals and secondments are vital aspects of the organisation’s HR blueprint. “A sabbatical is an opportunity for staff to take a well-deserved break from

Seven reasons why employee sabbaticals are a winning notion • Employees return rejuvenated and frequently feel like they have a new job • Employees garner inspiration for new ways to grow the business • Employees can focus on personal goals • Younger employees have the chance to grow in their positions • Employees are encouraged to stay with the organisation • Firms show they care about what employees want and need • Companies experience reduced employee turnover Source: Charles Coy, “7 Reasons Employee Sabbaticals Are a Winning Idea”, Cornerstone Blog

work in order to refresh and recharge, and secondments are opportunities for our staff to learn new skills and gain a greater understanding of our international business,” she says. “They vary in length from a week to several months and can be undertaken in any Text100 location globally,” she explains. MacPherson says Text100 staff can apply for an eight- week sabbatical after six years of continuous service. In fact, employees have the flexibility of taking the sabbatical in two periods of four weeks, or as an eight- week block and can also add up to four weeks of annual leave. “Unlike some traditional sabbatical programmes, at Text100, how you spend your sabbatical is a matter of personal preference – for some, it’s the chance to enjoy the trip of a lifetime, for others, it’s an opportunity to disconnect from the ‘always on’ world of technology and truly take a break,” MacPherson elaborates. “We want to retain and motivate our high performers and we see great results from this employee benefit.” Meanwhile, MacPherson says secondments establish working

relationships with colleagues and clients in other locations, and enable the employee to transfer knowledge to their colleagues on their return to their base location, all of which contribute to an employee’s professional development. From an HR perspective, she firmly believes secondments help in talent management. “Secondments are invaluable when we have a short term skill gap in one location and we can quickly redeploy an employee with the expertise to join the project team,” says MacPherson. “Working internationally also enables our staff to expand their cultural awareness which is crucial in a global business environment.” However, in the current labour and talent crunch, is Text100 missing out in terms of manpower by offering its employees such comprehensive time away from the office? MacPherson stresses that Text100 has been offering sabbaticals for several years and hence, it has not been a direct response to current market conditions. “We aim to provide an environment that attracts, rewards, and retains the best people in the communications industry and this is just one piece of our total rewards offering. Having refreshed and re-energised colleagues is beneficial for the whole team,” she explains.

The allure of secondments Like her counterpart Cheong, Preeti Gupta, Senior Consultant, Text100, also undertook a secondment with the organisation in 2006, when she was working out of the San Francisco office. “I had an opportunity to work in Delhi with our sister agency at the time, VOX PR, for two weeks. One of the many reasons I joined Text100 was because of the opportunity to work in other markets. When I got the opportunity to go to India and get a taste of how business was conducted there, I jumped at the chance,” says Gupta. She reveals the secondment benefitted her career more than she could have possibly imagined. ISSUE 15.10


SABBATICALS & SECONDMENTS “About four months after returning keeps things exciting as there are to the US, I was informed there was different workplace dynamics to adjust a full-time position in India and it to. Planning ahead and communicating didn’t take me long to accept the offer closely with line managers on both sides’ to move there for two years. I ended expectations is important to gaining up extending my stay in India for an the most benefit from secondment additional year and learnt a great deal opportunities while managing the about working in an emerging, fastemployee’s workload,” he adds. paced market,” reveals Gupta. After leaving India, she took six Benefits of sabbaticals months off, before moving to Singapore Wong’s sabbatical saw her travelling for to continue working with Text100 from a long period of time, something she says August 2010, where she has just completed that stretched herself and also helped her five years with the local company. realise how independent she could be. “As a result of the secondment, my “Embarking on this trip revealed to me eyes were opened to how other markets how much I wanted to fulfil my childhood throughout Asia work. With dream and to stay true to myself this first-hand knowledge, I without the influences of can now consult organisations societal norms and values, and from the US and Europe, the that realisation makes me both Middle East and Africa on how happy and proud,” she says. the communication’s industry Wong strongly believes it operates in Asia and vice is imperative for everyone to from work is a good way for employees to versa,” she says. focus on both their personal stretch and to allow Gupta explains by providing and professional development. them to step up and staff with the opportunity “Taking a break from work explore new areas. to work in other markets, is a good way for employees organisations are strengthening to stretch and to allow them their chances of retaining staff to step up and explore new and building a team of well-rounded areas. A happy worker is a productive consultants. worker. This positive behaviour will Her colleague Cheong believes that improve organisational performances his secondment offered another unique and effectiveness,” she states. benefit. Tellingly, she says she did not feel “Often in a corporate environment, worried that she was potentially missing it’s so easy to be mired in the day-toout on professional advantages, such day tasks that we lose sight of the bigger as potential promotions, during her picture. My secondment application sabbatical. demanded that I reflect on where I was in “I did think about that, but at the my career and how I wanted to shape it end of the day, I prefer to live a life in for the future at Text100,” he explains. the way that I like and not what society “It has helped me to tackle challenges wants,” she adds. from various angles by adopting This sentiment was also echoed by different perspectives of the problem Mabel Chiang, Senior Account Director, – an asset that would have been much Text100, who also engaged in a twomore difficult to attain if I hadn’t had month paid sabbatical. such an opportunity.” In fact, Chiang says what she felt was He strongly feels there is a lot that the opposite of being worried. can be learnt through secondments, “To be awarded the paid sabbatical was be they in an overseas office or even if a form of recognition,” she explains. the agency’s employee is attached to a “What can be gained from a sabbatical is client’s in-house team. far more valuable than the fear of delayed “The change in environment also promotions or career progression.”

Taking a break

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Chiang, who has been with the business for more than eight years now, says the offer of two months to herself was “hard to resist”. “I saw it as a great opportunity to hit a reset button and recharge! Not many organisations offer such a benefit, and it is truly an effective and rewarding arrangement for employees,” she reveals. Citing that her sabbatical was “precious” and that she “wanted to use it wisely”, Chiang says her ultimate goal was to come out of it feeling inspired and refreshed – which she certainly achieved. “I enrolled in enrichment courses, participated in fitness programmes, and also travelled to New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong and Thailand. The sabbatical was a mini project that basically involved prioritising time for things that are ‘soul food’ which help rejuvenate oneself,” she elaborates. From a personal standpoint, Chiang reveals the sabbatical was also a good morale booster. She knew her hard work was being recognised and appreciated by the business. “At the same time, I also found renewed energy to continue pursuing my career path and came back a healthier me; both mentally and physically. From a professional standpoint, stepping away from the daily grind in the dynamic and fast paced environment we work in helped provide fresh perspectives and inspired vision,” she says. Chiang believes a sabbatical is not the only way to help employees engage in their own pursuits. She says organisations can also look at alternative arrangements or policies that offer flexibility or certain incentives that could be put towards personal pursuits. “Ultimately, the journey of growth should be an on-going affair regardless if one takes time out on a sabbatical for their own pursuits. Ideally, our lives should accommodate both our personal and career pursuits. The onus is on us to pursue our own success and aspirations but having an organisation that is supportive of that would make it very conducive,” adds Chiang.


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Sussing out mobility trends Santa Fe Relocation Services held its first-ever interactive event, in which relocation industry experts were invited to discuss global mobility issues in the HR market


he trend of moving employees around offices for both short and long-term assignments is increasing. This makes cost containment a vital issue for HR and mobility professionals. Indeed, research from Sante Fe shows that 93% of global mobility professionals believe cost containment is important. The relocation company has also deduced that having a good knowledge of the issues enables mobility executives to plan effectively, which helps to mitigate risks. This was one of the many topics that the Global Mobility Outlook 2015 seminar touched upon. Held at the Hilton Hotel on September 2, the one-day event dug deeper into Santa Fe’s annual Global Mobility survey and highlighted the key aspects for foreign expatriates and employee relocation. Its first-ever interactive event saw forums and

discussions which addressed critical issues with HR professionals from across the region. The sessions were facilitated by John Ranson, Head of Consultancy Services at Santa Fe Relocation, Yvonne McNulty, Consultant on the research, Elizabeth Keller, Chief of Staff for international mobility at Barclays, and Carolyn Milligan, Head of Global Mobility at Kantar Group. Among the topics covered were the role of global mobility in organisational growth, challenges in managing global compliance and in attracting and retaining international talent, as well as the importance of return on investment in mobility spending. Bill Cain, Managing Director of Santa Fe Relocation, says the event allowed professionals to overcome HR issues more efficiently, especially with the help of valuable inputs from industry experts.

Ongoing rountable discussion 42 ISSUE 15.10


Naadiah Badib


Successful seminar with guest speakers “We would like our clients to know that the issues and challenges which they face are neither unique nor isolated,” says Cain. “Our global mobility survey is a good resource to our clients which will enable them to use facts and figures to build a business case, thus enabling them to move towards strategic planning.” Participants were able to sit for round table discussions, which were respectively facilitated by each panel speaker. Along with other delegates from various industries, participants had the opportunity to share and to listen to one another’s experiences, situations and challenges faced. They were also able to seek expert advice on critical issues regarding expatriates, relocation and the current market situation. Following the conclusion of the round table sessions, the panel speakers identified

areas that were of top concern among the participants. These included talent management and cost savings. The talks have proven beneficial to many of the participants. “My key takeaway was that measuring return on investment does not need to be a new complicated process,” says Eileen Davidson, Mobility Customer Service Consultant, Coca-Cola Far East Limited. “It can be easily done using existing tools such as the yearly performance reviews and assignee survey results.” Desmond Chen, HR Manager at Heinz says, “It has allowed us to be more aware of the current market practices, and the common challenges faced by many other companies. “With this knowledge, we have identified opportunities to strengthen our global mobility strategies, and that allows us to reinforce the importance of a well-planned global mobility process.”

HRCLINIC How can HR raise the leadership skills of frontline managers?


he world is transforming at a rapid pace, and today’s leaders are expected to achieve outstanding business results in a resourceconstrained environment. Organisations need great people-leaders to accelerate their business transformations. These leaders need to achieve these outstanding business results through their teams. With great people leaders who build high-performing teams, organisations are poised for success and sustainability. To raise the leadership skills of line managers, a clear leadership competencies framework is needed. This competencies framework should reflect the business strategy in the organisation. The company can then highlight its results to stakeholders, and will create a brand of successful leadership that is unique to the organisation. Next, you need to create a culture where people-leaders are role-models and can put their skills into practice. HR should define what great people leadership means, how it can be measured, and what rewards will be available.


There are five areas of focus in cultivating a visionary leader: • Defining and communicating to all employees what it means to be a people leader • Clear expectations for people leaders • Team and manager feedback – People-leaders should be assessed by their teams as well as by their managers • Development –HR can develop a series of leadership trainings to address the top three capabilities gaps uncovered through the feedback • Celebrate success by recognising and rewarding people-leaders who are successful. Creating an environment that respects expertise and employees, along with a clear leadership plan, will transform people leaders for success.

Lim Hwa Choo

Head of HR, Southeast Asia, Cisco Systems

Ask our HR experts. Email your questions to sham@hrmasia.com.sg

9.00 AM The start of a normal work day – I catch up with my team on any exigencies, pending tasks, approvals, and sign offer letters. I also have global calls scheduled around this time sometimes.

11.00 AM

Rachna Nazir HR and Talent Director, McCann Worldgroup

by meetings. I would usually meet up with the business heads on open positions, new or planned HR initiatives, policies, HR updates, data and trends. This provides a great opportunity to coach, provide feedback, and advise the senior management.

This is generally the time when I meet with prospective candidates, vendors, or partners. I use this window to catch up with employees from across the organisation too. It gives me the vibe of the culture and a better understanding of our employees.

3.00 PM

12.00 PM

This time of the day focuses on facilitating trainings or

It’s time for lunch, followed

I like to review and brainstorm with the team on any existing or new HR projects, such as a new learning initiative, our employee engagement survey, HR tools, or analysing data and trends.

5.00 PM

talks, as well as organising and attending employee engagement initiatives. I also utilise this time slot to prepare for the next day, review my time log, and attend to any last minute emergencies.

8.00 PM Dinner time with family. As a woman and as an HR leader, it is challenging and at the same time fulfilling to juggle so many roles: consultant, business partner, talent scout, mother and a wife at home.

9.00 PM As I sit and unwind with a book in my hand, I start looking forward to another exciting and action-packed day.

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Besides contributing to Singapore’s national security and military defence, National Service is also an opportunity to learn relevant skills. HRM shares some of the new and upcoming initiatives to help National Servicemen transit into the workforce Muneerah Bee muneerah.b@hrmasia.com.sg


he two years that every Singaporean male commits to National Service is often more than just to fulfil a sense of duty and commitment to the country. In their various roles, full-time National Servicemen will typically pick up skills that are pertinent and valuable for the needs of today’s workforce. As such, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is looking into how the competencies and vocational skills obtained in NS can be recognised by prospective employers. The Ministry of Defence and the SAF is planning to collaborate with the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) to accredit soldiering competencies to reflect the leadership, technical and specialist skills acquired during NS. WDA will match relevant military skills to the respective industrial domains under the Workforce Skills Qualifications framework. This initiative is one of the 30 recommendations made by the Committee to Strengthen National Service. It will allow employers to better understand and recognise the skills learnt during full-time National Service, as well as help national servicemen better transit into the workforce. The committee was set up in March, 2013 to examine how the National Service system could be strengthened for the future.

Rolled out in phases The accreditation process for each military course will take approximately six months, across three phases. Phase One involves the mapping of training syllabus, where the content of military training will be matched to relevant domains within industries. Moving to Phase Two, this will involve accrediting training institutes where the training or teaching pedagogy and the proficiency of the trainers will be benchmarked to WDA’s requirements. Finally, Phase Three involves auditing the training delivery, where the conduct of training will be validated for consistency. The Ministry of Defence, SAF and WDA are slated to finalise the implementation next year. According to media reports, vocations that stand to benefit from this accreditation include signal operators, and soldiers who serve as transport operators. The skills garnered by those in the medical field are also likely to be accredited through the upcoming framework. Early responses show employers are receptive. “I think, to accredit skills picked up during the National Service period of two years is a timely move. Skills such as teamwork, communication and leadership are learned; such skills are also what most organisations are looking out for. In essence, accreditation ISSUE 15.10


NS SKILLS CERTIFICATION provides assurance to companies that the incumbent has the certain skills set to meet the requirements of the job,” Ismail Gafoor, CEO, PropNex Realty, says. He adds that companies are interested to know if jobseekers have quality education and skills, and whether they will have something to bring to the table when they join the team. “For this purpose, accreditation from a reputable entity (in this case, the Ministry of Defence) enables companies to filter those individuals who have obtained a certain level of education or who have attained some higher skill levels. This will also ensure greater job fit,” Ismail says.

Meeting employers’ needs National Servicemen will also get more chances to talk to prospective employers through enhanced career and education fairs, jointly organised by the Ministries of Defence and Home Affairs, from November. More employers are expected to participate, giving servicemen a wider rangeof jobs to consider. IT retailer Challenger Technologies participated in the Ministry of Defence Career Summit to recruit transiting servicemen from the SAF after they left their military service. As employers, the company sees the impending

accreditation framework as a useful tool. “Certification is important to match a person to a job. By certifying their skills, we can identify if what they have learned during the service is relevant with the current market needs,” Tay Jo Lin, Head of HR, Challenger Technologies, says. “It helps us to know the competencies the person already has, and whether they fit the job we have.” “We can determine if there are any gaps between what they have learned, and what is required for the job. And if there are gaps, we can try to bridge these gaps and come to a middle ground,” she adds.

Better prepared for jobs Making a transition to the workforce can seem daunting, and jobseekers can sometimes use some help in understanding what employers look for in today’s employment landscape. On August 15 this year, full-time National Servicemen from the Singapore Armed Forces and Home Team took part in a oneday Career Skills Workshop at the Lifelong Learning Institute. The workshop is a joint collaboration between the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Home Affairs, and the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA). It arose from a recommendation by the Committee to Strengthen National Service as a way to help servicemen transit to the workforce after they complete their military commitment. Present at the workshop was Senior Minister of State for Defence Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, who noted feedback from the Committee to Strengthen National Service that servicemen need to better understand their educational, training and career pathways. Maliki said, “The Career Skills Workshop has been developed to cater to the needs of our full-time national servicemen transiting after National Service, and reflects the ministries’ s commitment to preparing our national servicemen for the next phase in their lives.” “Our National Servicemen have acquired skills which may be relevant to their future jobs, and the workshop was specially designed to help them understand the employment landscape and opportunities, and to draw on, maximise and showcase these skills during interviews or career fairs.” Lance-Corporal Tee Ting Zhang, who attended the workshop, said that he found it useful and relevant. “The workshop has provided me with helpful tips and advice on applying for jobs, and has given me a better understanding

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of how to prepare for interviews. I now feel more confident as I prepare for life after National Service,” he said. The workshop is conducted and developed by WDA and facilitated by Southeast Community Development Council, and it aims to equip participants with job search skills, such as written and verbal communication, and how to increase one’s chances of success in a job interview. The workshop also covers employment trends and opportunities in Singapore, as well as information on the range of job search resources available, such as Jobs Bank, and the training and career advisory services offered by WDA’s Career Centres. “With this collaboration, WDA hopes to provide National Servicemen with some awareness about the current employment trends and basic jobs search skills,” said Francis Lee, Director of WDA’s Career Services Division. As it is an on-going programme, the workshop is open to full-time National Servicemen who have three months or less to the completion of their full-time National Service.

Photo credit: MINDEF

Senior Minister of State for Defence Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman (extreme right) interacting with National Servicemen during the Career Skills Workshop

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towards success

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Professional coaching can help boost talent development in an organisation. HRM looks at how HR professionals can upskill themselves and their employees to create a more effective workforce Naadiah Badib



hen a person is hired, employers can be wary of their new recruit’s past professional experiences and education. Only after a period of time will organisations fully understand what motivates and drives them. However, as organisations evolve, people need to evolve too. More particularly, following promotions, employees will face changes in responsibilities and environment. This may cause some individuals to face hardships, but with coaching, employers can better facilitate their workers’ progression and careers. This is something Kelvin Lim, Founder and Principal Coach of Executive Coach International, stresses upon. While there are different perspectives on the purpose of engaging in professional coaching, Lim sees it as a useful tool for employees who face internal barriers in their professional lives. “With the help of a coach, being able to see what needs to be done to progress is one of the most powerful things we can do,” he says. “Being supported by a coach that will be able to point out those difficulties and help craft applicable solutions together is the most effective way of moving forward.” Similarly, Henry Lee, Managing Partner of Glides Consulting Partners, identifies coaching as bridge for the HR profession.

“Professional coaching is fast gaining traction as part of the ‘arsenal’ of offerings HR professionals recommend to complement other programmes for people development,” he explains. “HR plays a key role in people engagement and development and this can be done through many ways including training, workshops and coaching.” Praise Mok, Principal Consultant of ROHEI, believes that coaching is a key component in an organisation’s approach to people and leadership development. “When delivered appropriately, coaching has been demonstrated to have a 5.7 times return on investment,” says Mok. “This return of investment is manifested in the improved quality of the interactions and decisions leaders make when they are present and connected to others.” Furthermore, she adds that coaching guides an individual through life’s challenges and helps them to move forward with confidence in the midst of change, turning their potential into reality and enabling them to be better leaders. Possibly as a result of all these, there has been a significant rise in the number of companies investing in coaching. “We have noticed more government entities are opting for executive coaching services,” says Darryl Parrant, Managing Director, Align SMA. ISSUE 15.10


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“We are more confident now that we have gotten this recognition. Moving forward, we are going to put in even more effort to strive to make our JUMBO an even better organisation to work at.”

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“I think this enhances DBS Bank’s brand image and that is really important. I think in the past five years or so, you have seen that DBS Bank has come a long way and we really want to continue to keep the flag flying high.”

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CORPORATE LEARNING “SME owners are also seeing the benefits of executive coaching for themselves and to their senior management teams.” “We have also seen an increase in emerging leaders and high potentials, as coaching can help accelerate their ability to prepare for the next promotion and to ensure they are job ready for the next career progression.”

Turning to coaching An increasing number of companies have adopted coaching for a range of outcomes in both personal and professional situations. “They come to us when they need to improve service levels and increase customer engagement; when staff engagement is down and they see a need to motivate their staff,” explains Mok. “There are other cases as well, those in which particular behaviour changes are needed, and staff need further development.” “There are also seasons of change that a company goes through, such as change of management or takeovers, in which clients come to us in need of team building, or values alignment programmes.” “Sometimes, training or coaching is needed on a more specific level such as development of supervisory skills or communication skills,” she adds. For some, engaging in professional coaching is only thought of when they hit challenges. Lee says, “I usually share with potential clients that you can decide to engage coaches for your team members during times of aspiration, or times of desperation.” “Obviously the results are much more impactful and effective during times of aspiration where staff can really be coached on what breakthroughs need to happen to take their performance to the next level.” “Unfortunately, most employers, due to lack of awareness about coaching and the value, tend to look at coaching as a panacea for when things are not going well or

when employees are not performing.” Parrant says some issues that lead firms to engage in coaching include individual performance problems, and the need to provide opportunities for leaders to grow and to cope with a changing organisation. “We noticed most organisations want to enhance their leadership capability to develop their leaders around a set of competencies to drive business goals,” says Parrant. “We work with organisations to evaluate and then close the competency gaps through effective executive coaching.” Lim has also noticed there are common challenges such companies face. “Companies approach our coaches primarily because they want to get a different perspective of how their organisation is performing,” he shares. He adds that the typical issues revolve around a lack of teamwork, unsatisfactory communication between divisions and teams, challenges in integrating new staff, and conflict resolution.

Coaching is a compliment! Being assigned to a coaching session is no longer seen as a form of remedial. It’s a compliment. According to a study by the Human Capital Institute, 87% of employers offer one-on-one coaching to “high potential” staff. In fact, 70% of them stated the key reason was to assist future leaders in figuring out the next steps on their career path with the company. However, other factors that lead employers to send their staff for coaching include communication skills (63%), relationship building (63%), and team leadership (60%).

Programmes in place To provide better services to organisations, Align SMA offers a variety

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“We’ve seen that when staff understands and feels his value as a whole person, the organisation becomes even more profitable” Praise Mok, Principal Consultant, ROHEI

of development tools and assessments to help guide the coaching process. In addition to the mandatory face-toface coaching and e-coaching sessions, it offers an automated 360-degree process with individual and group reporting functionality. Among its other programmes are the Licensee for the Leadership Dimensions Profile, which has a range of reports useful for developing individuals and teams, and guided projects where senior leaders select an organisational issue to be addressed. “At Align SMA, we articulate the issue into an Action Learning Project and provide support and coaching services to individuals and the project team over a year to develop and implement the signed-off project plan,” Parrant explains. “This coaching and action learning project approach are becoming very popular as it helps develop individuals as well as address real organisational issues with impactful results.” Align SMA also works with its sister company Align HR consulting to develop succession planning toolkits with organisations, and also completes individual development plans for key successors. ROHEI, on the other hand, offers career and executive coaching. However, its approach is different as it aims to create learning experiences that transform an individual. 52 ISSUE 15.10


“We believe that every person is intrinsically valuable and destined to make a positive impact in their community,” Mok says. “We focus not just on the mind, but we want to engage the hearts as well.” The coaches at ROHEI are trained and have extensive experience in drawing out individuals, facilitating awareness, and guiding staff to articulate their personal goals and values. “We’ve seen that when a staff member understands and feels their value as a whole person, the organisation becomes even more profitable,” she adds. At present, Executive Coach International has two types of programmes in place. Its flagship programme, Courage to Create, provides coaching for executives who want to improve any aspect of their personal or professional life. Adding on to that is the Professional Coach Training programme, which offers training for those who want to learn coaching skills. “All our trainers are International Coaching Federation-accredited as well, with at least five years of coaching experience,” shares Lim. On the other hand, Glides focuses on an approach called “RACE” which corresponds to Results, Accountability, Communications, and Executions. “Our programmes aim to focus them on driving greater accountability,

having impactful communication and executing well by doing real work that drives results,” Lee says.

Factors to consider As more professionals are looking to drive leadership development efforts, there are several factors HR professionals should consider to decide if coaching is the right fit for their organisation. “The most important is how the coaching purpose is communicated to the coachees and if the coachees are motivated and receptive to individual or team coaching,” Parrant shares. Align SMA makes it mandatory for coachees to have the right to select the coach themselves. This ensures there is chemistry and connection. Before companies send employees for coaching, Lee advises that the sponsors need to partner with HR and professional coaches to discuss the outcomes they want to drive for each coaching engagement. “Every individual, every situation, every company and every professional coach will be different so it is vital to have these conversations to assess the dynamics and the experience the coaches will bring to companies,” he says. Additionally, Lim suggests firms to look to the technicalities of engaging a professional coach. He says the factors to consider include past client successes, coaches’ years of experience, current personal and professional projects, professional certification, quality of customer service, and client testimonials. Moreover, Mok emphasises that companies should prioritise employee’s attitude. “Ascertain if your employees first understand, and are then open and willing to buy-in to the idea of coaching,” she explains. “Then look for a consultancy whose coaching services and approach can meet your company’s specific needs and one who shares your company’s leadership values.”


Making an


International schooling options can be one of the most important issues for relocating families. HRM shares how international schools are working with HR to ensure international staff can have a peace of mind when it comes to their children’s education

Sham Majid sham@hrmasia.com.sg

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ccording to the Expat Insider 2015 report, four per cent of those moving internationally for career-related reasons had help with sorting out childcare or schooling. Employers paid for the kids’ education in eight per cent of cases. Meanwhile, 17% of career expatriates are parents of dependent children living with them. Their companies only fork out money for their kids’ education in three per cent of cases and only two per cent receive aid with organising childcare or schooling.

While the report illustrates a somewhat nonchalant stance of organisations when it comes to helping their relocating employees with children’s education costs, Eve Rogove, Director of Marketing and Admissions, Stamford American International School, says she believes it is still a strong priority for companies with relocating staff. “The most important factor should be the identification of educational options that best meet the needs of the child and family,” explains Rogove.

RELOCATION AND INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS She points to a telling finding from The Cartus 2014 Trends in Global Relocation: Global Mobility Policy and Practices survey. “The inability of the family to adjust is the second most-cited reason for assignment failure, and the school of choice is one of the influencing factors on this trend,” she says. “It’s therefore important not just to the family, but for HR and relocation managers who want to ensure successful assignments.” David Edwards, Head of Education at GEMS World Academy (Singapore), says over the past five years, there has been pressure on HR managers to best support the relocation or placement of senior managers into Singapore. “In more recent times, the tightening of Employment Pass approvals has seen a decrease in foreigner relocations, meaning that schools generally now have places available. This is certainly a welcome relief to companies seeking to attract global talent,” he explains. “Families who do continue to struggle are those whose children have learning difficulties, which require increased care and support. For these parents, there are limited school options available.” Edwards says the single most important detail in a relocation is the school selection for the expatriate’s child or children. “This impacts housing, the additional programme of activities, travel times, friendship groups, spousal activities, and so on,” he says. “By focusing on the swift settling in of the family, HR Managers can take some comfort that this will directly impact the business. “The staff member will get into their role sooner, be more focused, and do so with the knowledge that the family is settled. This attention to the needs of staff results in higher engagement and supports talent retention.”

Forging ties with HR According to Rogove, Stamford American International School builds partnerships with key HR personnel and relocation managers, with the

school providing the most up-to-date information so that relocating families can make informed decisions. “The key is providing a flexible service in which our admissions team can connect to the family, and this includes having a dedicated enquiry team in the US and Singapore to offer a convenient service in the family’s time zone,” she explains. “Wherever possible, we arrange a visit at their convenience, allowing them to see the campus and the classrooms in action.” She stresses that at Stamford, the school’s goal is to connect with the family and to really get to know the children. “(We aim to) understand the child’s strengths, weaknesses and especially their interests. We get to know a family, so we are able to meet their needs,” states Rogove. She says the range and quality of international education in Singapore means that there is always a viable option for parents, no matter what their needs. In fact, the Expat Insider 2015 report has found that Singapore is globally valued for its quality of education (see: boxout). Edwards also stresses that first and foremost, the team at GEMS World Academy is accessible. “This includes across weekends, by appointment, as well as last minute requests for information and support. We appreciate that every family has a specific story, needs and wants,” he elaborates.

Education choices among expat parents • International school: 34 % • Local state school: 30 % • Local private school: 20 % • Does not apply: 14 % • Post-secondary education: 9 % • National school abroad: 7 % • Homeschooling: 4 % • Other: 2% Source: Expat Insider 2015 survey

“While we have a strong enrolment and sales team who assists at the outset, all families and company HR executives have significant contact with the senior educational leaders of our organisation.” GEMS World Academy organises school tours every Tuesday, giving parents of prospective students the chance to learn more about the school and the programmes offered. “For relocating staff, under the support of HR managers and relocation agents, we happily coordinate one-onone tours and meetings with the family, to ensure that specific support and information is provided,” says Edwards. He acknowledges that parents are making a significant decision when choosing a school, one which impacts the child’s education now and in the future. “This is a daunting task for families, so at the outset, our goal is to guide parents through the process of selecting a school which best suits the needs of their child and their aspirations for the future. There is no hard sell,” Edwards explains. “Our team has extensive knowledge and experience of all schools in Singapore, and we lay this information out for families. We don’t attempt to be a school that we are not. We make the distinction between local, national and international school models, and guide parents on the types of questions they should be asking as they review the many options available to them.” This process is all done through the senior education leadership team. In addition, Edwards says that during the enrolment process, the Head of Education or School Principal personally meets and interacts with the new family to learn more about the child and their family, and to gain insights into the child’s educational aspirations and interests. “The goal here is to ensure that before the first day of school, we know the family and child well and can ensure a smooth start to a new school and country,” he adds.

Will it break the bank? Rogove says that whether or not the education for their children is part of ISSUE 15.10


RELOCATION AND INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS the salary package provided “is often a make or break issue” for families of relocating staff. “International schooling costs are often a shock for first time expatriates,” she says. “In the event they are not included within the employee’s benefit package, they will often decide not to relocate.” According to the Your Assignment Abroad: The 50 Most Common Concerns report by KPMG, due to the fact that expatriate children often attend international schools, housing near those schools also tends to be more costly.

What do the schools offer? While the allure of international schools can be tempting, Rogove points out there are several important factors for parents to consider before deciding if that particular school is indeed the right fit for their children. She says these factors include curriculum, facilities, location, cocurricular activities and fees. On the aspect of curriculum, Rogove says International Baccalaureate is a world-wide curriculum offering an easy transition to any destination in the world. “At Stamford, we are the first and only

Receiving education overseas compared to home country Many companies provide education assistance intended to provide adequate elementary and secondary education for children equivalent to that of public (state-run) education in the home country. A school in the host location is usually considered adequate if a student who has successfully completed a given grade at that school will be accepted in the next higher grade in a public school in the home country. Although most expatriate children attend private schools, many employers will no longer pay the tuition if adequate public schools are available. Source: Your Assignment Abroad: The 50 Most Common Concerns report by KPMG

school in Singapore to offer the challenging American Education Reaches Out standards combined with the International Baccalaureate programme,” she explains. Rogove says high quality facilities offer students exceptional opportunities that they may not be able to enjoy in their home country.

Educational trends around the globe • Austria, Finland, Sweden, and Australia are among the top five countries for availability of and overall satisfaction with education options for expatriate children. Austria comes out on top in both rankings, with 76% and 90% positive responses, respectively. It ranks far above the global average of 51% and 70%. • Hong Kong is a popular expatriate destination and 83% of parents are content with the quality of education there. Nevertheless, it finds itself at the bottom of the list when it comes to the availability of education, with only 17% positive ratings , closely followed by Qatar (22%) and Saudi Arabia (27%). • In the Expat Insider 2015 survey, Finland has emerged as the most popular destination among expatriate parents for its quality and cost of education. • After Finland with 92% satisfied parents, Austria (92%), Singapore (83%), Switzerland (82%), and Germany (79%) are also valued for the quality of their education. Tellingly however, only two of these nations (Finland and Austria) rank in the top five for availability, costs, and general satisfaction with education options. • Fewer than 10% of respondents chose international schools in English-speaking countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, or the US. • Local state schools are especially popular among survey participants in New Zealand (65%), Finland (65%), Norway (64%), Switzerland (62%), and Canada (59%). Source: Expat Insider 2015 survey

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“Stamford offers first class facilities in a purpose built $300 million stateof-the-art campus, including a 500seat theatre as the only school theater in Singapore equipped with an LED backdrop screen, allowing students to give more integrative performances and presentations,” she says. “Sports facilities at Stamford – including three swimming pools, two indoor sports arenas, tennis courts, dance studios, rock climbing walls, a sports field, and a golf academy, allow for participation and achievement in over 70 competitive sports teams.” She says the school’s co-curricular activities programme offers students the opportunity to explore interests and develop new skills in a fun and inclusive environment. The programme starts from pre-kindergarten level and offers over 100 activities. Location is another important criteria when deciding on an international school. “Singapore is a small country with lots of educational options, and minimal travel times to school are very achievable,” says Rogove “Stamford is also centrally located, and just 10 minutes from Orchard.” Last but certainly not least, Rogove stresses that parents should understand the fee structures of all potential schools. Some have recurring annual fees on top of tuition, which initially make their fees look lower. Her counterpart Edwards stresses that when choosing a school for children, parents should consider the quality of teachers, the school model, and the value-added programmes. “While a parent is a child’s first teacher, it’s crucial that we recognise that individual learning development is impacted the most by the educators interacting with the children on a regular basis,” he explains. “The difference between the good, great and outstanding schools is never facilities; it is the quality of teachers that counts the most. “HR has a significant impact on all elements of a business. Schools are no different. As such, parents are

RELOCATION AND INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS encouraged to ask school leaders about their teacher hiring policy, how they ensure their staff are valued, what programmes for development are provided, and what the turnover of staff is.” In terms of the school mode, Edwards elaborates that the school philosophy, culture, school demographics are all important elements for parents to consider. “Curriculum models must support the smooth transition of the children into the school, while opening up suitable pathways for further study,” he says. “National schools are great for families wanting a singular culture, curriculum and certification model. International schools celebrate the many things that make us similar, as well as highlighting those delightful elements that make us different. “International schools have rigorous additional certifying bodies, which ensure school programmes are recognised globally and prepare

students well for whatever their next step in formal education may be.” Furthermore, Edwards adds if a staff member’s family will be relocating regularly, then international schools that offer globally recognised and widely accepted curriculum, like the International Baccalaureate programme or the International General Certificate of Secondary Education ensure uninterrupted education. Finally, Edwards says additional programmes provided by schools ensure that a balanced learning environment is supported. “These programmes include extracurricular activities across sports, arts and academics. Leadership groups and junior political study initiatives such as Model United Nations enable students to deepen their understanding of the world around them,” he states. “Community and service activities, as

well as entrepreneurship programmes, continue to broaden the learning opportunities available to children both in and out of the classroom.” Tellingly, Edward cautions that it is important for parents not to get dazzled by facilities and to consider the fundamentals. “Are these programmes a must or a want for my child? Are the people driving these initiatives committed to children and to ensuring outstanding learning opportunities are being consistently provided?” he asks. “HR support and guidance in distilling the complex offerings of schooling in Singapore is a crucial service in assisting key hires and their families. School selection services significantly enhance employee satisfaction and to have a reputation in the market of being outstanding in supporting staff relocation should be something all mobility teams strive to achieve.”

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Anish Singh

HR Director, Global Sales and Southeast Asia and Australasia Marketing, Unilever

Anish Singh takes on a new role as Unilever’s HR Director of Global Sales, and marketing for Southeast Asia and Australasia. Based in Singapore, Singh will partner with the Global Sales team, where he will develop a process to drive talent and focus on strategies for e-commerce business. In his second hat, he will contribute as the regional HR Business lead for the marketing function in Southeast Asia and Australasia, and will work closely with stakeholders to drive business performance through enabling people initiatives. Singh will also spearhead as HR lead for Unilever International. He says his past exposure with startups will come in handy in making his contribution through strategic people initiatives to drive high pace growth business. He brings with him over 15 years of experience in HR management in firms such as Reckitt Benckiser and ICICI Prudential Life Insurance. Prior to these, Singh also held the position of Leadership Development Director of Global Markets for two years at Unilever. On his new role, Singh said that he is “excited to be part of three different teams” as it will help him to learn and contribute even more to business and himself.

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Benjamin Nominé HR Director, Asia-Pacific, M+W Group

Benjamin Nominé has been recently appointed as the HR Director, AsiaPacific at M + W Group. Prior to this, he held the position of Regional HR Business Partner at Talisman Energy, Asia-Pacific for three years. Following the acquisition of Repsol, Nominé decided to move in search of a new challenge. His 20 years of experience covers various industry sectors, ranging from pharmaceutical and medical devices, to energy and automation. Nominé spent the last six years in business partnering roles where he worked at an international level and coordinated HR activities of subsidiaries in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and North America. His area of expertise is linked to the full talent management cycle of employee value propositions, talent acquisition and talent management. “Over the past years, I have been specialising in transformational change in HR and finding ways to simplify HR processes to respond to the new challenges within business,” he said. On his new position, Nominé looks forward to simplifying processes and being a true business partner. He said, “I want to make sure that we are challenging the status quo, and that sometimes means thinking out of the box!”

Naseem Khan

HR Director – Australia, New Zealand & Southeast Asia, Levi Strauss

Levi Strauss has appointed Naseem Khan as its HR Director for the Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia region. In his new position, Khan will cover all aspects of HR but will focus on employee engagement and development, talent management, and succession planning. He will also oversee the company’s growth across the region. Khan has over 17 years of experience in HR, spanning roles in business HR and specialist functions such as rewards and talent management. His predominant experiences include having worked in industries such as IT services, manufacturing and business process outsourcing, and now, the fashion and apparel industry. After his previous six year stint at Capgemini, Khan felt the need to have a change in his working environment. “I have been with IT services companies for over 13 years and the change was to challenge myself to learn about a new industry and its’ unique HR challenges,” he said. Khan also hopes that his new role will help in employees’ career development. “I believe HR as a function can help companies unlock the true potential of this asset,” he said. “A key part of this role is to enable and empower the managers to become true people champions, where they are able to engage the hearts and minds of their teams.”

IN PERSON DAVID GARETH THOMAS Senior Vice President, Head of HR, Asia, Manulife Financial Asia

How many years of HR experience?

Over 25 years working in diverse country, regional and global roles. Most roles have also involved me taking broader business leadership responsibilities: extended non-HR portfolios, merger and acquisition activities, and board directorships.

Why HR?

When I was studying Management Science at university, I was fascinated by the possibilities of human performance, global competition and leadership. I have been able to build on this early insight and continue my learning and its application in over 70 countries across the world. I get paid for doing something which I genuinely love.

Why Manulife?

I joined as a change agent working with regional and global colleagues to ensure that we maximise an incredible opportunity to assist Asia’s diverse populations to better achieve their life plans. There has never been a better time to be involved in the wealth protection and asset management business at Manulife.

Biggest achievement?

Turning my passion for high performance, people engagement and world class talent acquisition into a career. I’ve been involved in privatising a nationalised industry, some of the biggest global mergers in banking, and have worked and lived in Europe, Asia, the Americas, Africa and Australasia.

After hours?

I run with my dogs and I’ve just started kickboxing, and enjoy weight training. I also value family time and I usually have around six books “on the go” at a time on my Ipad.


I have a great wife and three children who ensure that my sights are set high in everything that I do, but that my feet are also still firmly on the ground. My two children are at boarding school in the UK so I spend lots of time tracking their sporting and other activities on Twitter.


Balancing work and life rightfully D

o you find yourself struggling to keep a healthy work-life balance? Are you looking for ways to improve performance in both your personal and work lives? If so, then Headstrong Performance may be the breakthrough book that will help to boost your leadership performance. This book comprises of personal experiences from author Marcel Daane and his research into various businesses ranging from Fortune 500 companies to those in the service industries and in education. A motivational read, Daane offers numerous relaxed and practical strategies that can be implemented in a typical busy schedule. Its main topics comprise of areas in nutrition, exercise and neuroscience. Each section starts with chapters on the science behind the topic at hand, followed by the application of strategy and a case study. In addition to the scientifically-proven approaches, the strategies stated are also illustrated with ample relevant graphics and easy-to-digest tables. With this, readers will find it easier to understand typical behaviours under pressure. To provide even further assistance, Daane lays out a detailed outline of a “periodisation programme” – a systematic planning of one’s training over a period of time. This ensures that readers are able to grasp the concepts as a whole and monitor their own progress in their attempt to reach peak performances. Headstrong Performance is indeed a suitable guide for professionals in search for long-term solutions to maintain a healthy balance of their professional and personal lives.

Title: Headstrong Performance Author: Marcel Daane Publisher: BBPC Singapore Price: S$28.95

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Embedding the

comforts of home Some of Singapore’s leading hotels are going the extra mile to meet the specific needs of business travellers


ven with the technological advances in the world today, inperson interactions are still a crucial element of business. There will therefore still be instances when an employee is required to travel for meetings, and other work commitments. In fact, employees who go on business trips have a favourable view of such assignments. The Business Travel Insights 2014 survey by Amadeus showed that UK and Ireland business travellers were positive about the need to travel for business. Over half (55%) found business trips “interesting”, 36% said they were “enjoyable”, and 17% relayed that business travel was “motivating”. Business travellers today have a wide range of accommodation to choose from, and the best business hotels in Singapore are making the effort to meet their specific needs, making their trips as productive and hassle-free as possible. 60 ISSUE 15.10


Connectivity and convenience The number one priority for business travellers is efficiency, according to the Business Travel Insights 2014 survey. A fifth (21%) of its respondents said they valued the ability to get the job done as efficiently as possible, for example, by staying, in the hotel closest to the meeting. Centrally-located hotels such as Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel, Regent Singapore – A Four Seasons Hotel, Sheraton Towers, and Millennium & Copthorne International are viable options for travellers who are looking to cut down on travel time to common MICE venues and business districts, as well as shopping, dining and entertainment outlets. In some instances, business travellers may need to reach locations which are not located in the centre of Singapore, such as Changi Business Park, one-north, and International Business Park. They

Muneerah Bee muneerah.b@hrmasia.com.sg

should ask the hotel’s concierge’s desk about shuttle services, hotel limousines, or taxi booking arrangements for their transportation needs. Some hotels will also accommodate large groups of business travellers, to ensure they can get around Singapore with ease. “For large groups of corporate travellers, the hotel can arrange for bus transfer to take them to their desired destination,” Zareen Huang, Director of Marketing Communications, Sheraton Towers Singapore Hotel, says. Additionally, she agrees a good business hotel should be situated in a convenient location with strong transport links to the airport and business districts.


Canary Meeting Room – Millennium & Copthorne International

Executive Room – Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel

Comforts of home Being away from home, business travellers often look for hotels which not only meet the basic necessities they need, but also offer more than these essentials. “When business travellers are on the road they are seeking convenience and amenities that increase their productivity. Comfort and a great night’s sleep remain a priority and ultimately, anticipatory services that cater to their specific needs are what will set one hotel apart from another,” says Peter Draminsky, General Manager, Regent Singapore – A Four Season Hotel. Having a comfortable place to rest while staff are on the trip will also help them to recuperate and reenergise before starting on their meetings and tasks. Health experts recommend business travellers allow themselves to physically adjust to the new

environment for at least half to threequarters of their day before embarking on anything important. To make guests feel as comfortable as possible during their stay, Freddy See, Director of Sales and Marketing, Millennium & Copthorne International, says some of the important amenities and features of the hotel include efficient housekeeping services, laundry or drycleaning and pressing services, and 24hour room service. Besides looking into the comfort of their guests, the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel Singapore also provides efficient check-in and checkout services. Attentive and efficient services will go a long way to make business travellers feel at home. Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel engages business travellers with per-arrival letters which enquire about the guests’ preferences, and readies their room before they step into the hotel. With Marriott’s Mobile Chat services, guests can also communicate with the hotel prior to their arrival to ensure that their needs and preferences are met. “Our associates will also take note of travellers’ behaviour, and are constantly finding new avenues to exceed the expectations of guests,” Martijn Dekker, Director of Marketing, Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel, shares. For example, if a guest has earmarked a book in the guest room, the hotel staff will place a bookmark in the book with a personalised message.

Finer details For travellers who need to start their business day early, Regent Singapore, offers complimentary early breakfast from four to seven each morning. To keep up with their fitness routine, corporate travellers often look for fitness and recreation facilities at their hotels. These ensure their health is not neglected when they are on the road and also give travellers a chance to unwind after a hard day’s work. For example, Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel offers a fitness centre, spa facilities, a basketball court and a swimming pool. According to a recent online article on The Telegraph, engaging in 30 minutes of exercise each day while travelling will greatly help improve sleeping patterns while flying across different time zones. Hence, these facilities, such as a 24-hour gym, spa, and pool, may also to be pivotal to overcoming jetlag. Paying attention to diet will also help travellers to be more productive and keep their energy levels up. A diversity of dining options within the hotel offers travelling employees the chance to enjoy unique culinary experiences.

Suitable place to work With a tight schedule, employees will need a good environment to attend to work commitments while they are away from the office. The Business Travel Insights 2014 survey shows Wi-Fi or other internet connectivity is a top priority for business travellers. Complimentary wireless and highISSUE 15.10


MICE Guilt-free trip A study showed Americans consider business travel as an opportunity to escape from the monotony of the day-to-day routine. The top three ways they maximise their “me” time while away are: • Wind down in the pool (42%) • Luxuriate in a long shower (27%) • Indulge in an extra glass of wine (19%) Manhattan Bar – Regent Singapore, A Four Seasons Hotel

speed Internet access in the room, as well as in common areas in the hotel, is highly important as today’s business travellers need to be constantly connected while on the go. Business travellers often cite the preference for a well-lit work environment and ergonomic work station or writing desk in their room. Additionally, the availability of adequate power plugs and sockets ensures employees are provided with the flexibility of using multiple electronic devices when they work. At the end of September this year, Regent Singapore introduced smart phones in all of its hotel rooms to allow guests to stay connected throughout their stays. These smart phones provide free unlimited 3G data and international calls to a range of destinations including the US, UK, Australia, and China.

Further support Business travellers may also require the services of a well-equipped business centre as well as meeting rooms where they can access audio-visual equipment, work stations, computers, copiers, printers, and telephones. To further facilitate the needs of travellers, Marriott’s Red Coat Programme and Meeting Services App allow meeting planners to manage their events or meetings at any time of the day, Dekker says. Hotel professionals HRM spoke to agree that providing business travellers with the necessary resources helps them 62 ISSUE 15.10


to enjoy a seamless work process. “With all the accommodation needs taken care of by the hotel, our guests can now fully focus their attention on the tasks at hand,” Huang says. Indeed, travellers can put their minds at ease and save time on those minor details. “Staying in a good business hotel can help employees focus on their tasks at hand as all the amenities and facilities can be found within the hotel and they do not have to travel out of the hotel, thus saving time and increasing productivity,” See says.

Mixing business and pleasure While they are in a new country, business travellers often choose to make the most out of their trips and do some sightseeing. Good business hotels usually have concierge services which offer assistance and advice on exploring places of interest in Singapore, based on the guest’s specific preferences, schedule and budget. Some will even help to make the necessary transport arrangements

Source: Survey conducted by SpringHill Suites by Marriott

and secure reservations promptly. Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel also offers a room package that comes with two Night Safari admission tickets, with tram rides, and two-way transfers. Regent Singapore will make the effort to get to know its guests via email prior to their arrival, or meet them when they arrive, to learn about their interests. “From there, we are able to pick from our list of suggested itineraries, or allow them to choose their own travel arrangements, ensuring that they enjoy a pleasant and most memorable experience in our beautiful city in a garden,” Draminsky says. Choosing a good business hotel for your employees can help them achieve the goal of their business travel. This, in turn, will play a part in improving your employee’s motivation, as was reflected in a study conducted by SpringHill Suites by Marriott. This study found that 63% of business travellers return to work feeling refreshed and productive.

Deluxe Room – Sheraton Towers Singapore Hotel


Te c h n o l o g y, D e s i g n & S t r a t e g y 21 – 22 October 2015 | Raffles City Convention Centre, Singapore

Rebecca Port Managing Director and Global Head of HR STANDARD CHARTERED BANK

Jimmy Koh Managing Director and Head of Investor Relations and Research UOB

Neel Augusthy CFO Customer Service & Logistics APAC JOHNSON & JOHNSON

Jeremy Gray CFO Asia Pacific W.R. GRACE

Official Global Partner:

Media Partners:

Tan Kok Yam Head, Smart Nation Programme PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE SINGAPORE


Srinivasan Venkita Padmanabhan President & Global Head Finance (Products) OLAM GROUP

Fredrik Ohlsson Director, Global Information Management, Business Intelligence TETRAPAK SEA

Supporting Partners:

Official Magazine:

Register here: http://www.futureworkforce.hrmcongress.com/ | Email: info@hrmasia.com.sg


MyHRM Communities HR Expert Panelists For The Month Of October

Stéphane Michaud, PhD Regional Manager, Strategic Planning & HRD Consulting, Mitsubishi Corporation

Vineet Gambhir

Vice President & Head of Talent APAC, Yahoo, Inc.

William Chin

Staffing Director, Qualcomm Asia-Pacific

HR Expert Panelists For The Upcoming Months

Cara Reil

VP Talent Management & Development HR, SingTel

Dheeraj Shastri

Global Analytics, Abbott Laboratories

Gaurav Sharma

HR Director, Coca-Cola Singapore

A. Mateen

Senior VP HR, DHL Express Asia Pacific, Deutsche Post DHL

Preeti Subramanian Regional Manager Total Rewards, ZALORA Group

Aditi Singh

HR Manager Talent Management, ZALORA Group

Mark Leong

Talent Partner APAC, UBS

Pauline Chua

General Manager Human Capital & CSR, Fuji Xerox Singapore

What is MyHRM Communities?

Asia’s largest forum for people management professionals, MyHRM is where HR executives and decision makers gather according to HR specialisation to discuss pertinent and hot-button issues while exploring solutions to major challenges.

Choose between six diverse communities: • Compensation & Benefits • C-Suite • HR Generalists • Learning & Development • Talent Acquisition • Talent Management

Post your comments & stand a chance to win a Holiday Stay in Pattaya Thailand With innovative new features: • Live Polls • HRM Weekly Bulletin • HRM Insights • Cross-industry training courses • Dedicated events page




Smarter HR for the Smart Workforce H

RM Asia’s Smart HR Congress, held at the Hilton Hotel Singapore on August 28, was a huge success with over 60 attendees participating. The congress convened transformative leaders of HR to share their vision of a “Smarter HR for the Smart Workforce”; a blue print for driving future growth and value through the HR function. The single-day congress accentuated the importance of reinventing work around people and pervasive technologies to transform businesses and empower their workforces. There were many fruitful and lively debates on how HR can leverage on technology to forward their objectives in promoting employee engagement, diversity and inclusion, and work-life balance in this digital age. The congress opened with a presentation on the main theme, by Glenn Dittrich, Director of Smarter Workforce for IBM Growth Markets. Dittrich posed a big question to the HR leaders gathered: “Are you prepared for disruption?” His presentation went on to highlight how technology has changed the game for HR with more and more workers now being more digitally connected. He says this sets the bar higher for HR. The only way to keep up is to ensure a smarter HR leadership for businesses through a combination of people-centric strategy and smart HR tools. Cindy Dermawan, Head of Talent and Learning Management, Diversity, and Inclusion at Citi Singapore shared a successful case study of the bank’s “Citi Work Strategies” programme. This helps employees realise both personal and professional goals while continuing to have meaningful work and career opportunities. Dermanwan

says it works in tandem with Citi’s belief that work-life balance is key to enhancing effectiveness and retaining talent, and the bank has successfully leveraged on technology to further those objectives. A lively and interactive panel discussion also featured. Evangeline Chua, Head of HR from Citi Singapore; Juliana Ong, director of HR at Royal Plaza on Scotts; and Polly Herbert, Director of Employee Relations at Barclays, joined moderator Gary Lee, former Head, Learning and Development at the Soo Kee Group to discuss some of the key issues. The congress concluded on a high note, with a lively series of HR Technology Solution Roundtables, led by IBM. The roundtables brought participants together to discuss pertinent topics of Talent Analytics; Social Collaborative Learning; and Predictive Hiring. HRM Asia would like to extend a very special ‘thank you’ to our Diamond Sponsor IBM, and also our Gold Sponsor the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF). Not to forget, our distinguished line-up of speakers who took time out of their busy schedules to share their experience and thoughts. It is through their support that we are able to continue to strengthen our insightful HRM Asia Congress programme.

UPCOMING CONGRESS HRM Asia is proud to be your partner in progress and professional development. We bring you quality conferences and training and we have many exciting congresses and masterclasses in the upcoming months. Mark your calendar now! • Strategic Human Capital Management in SMEs Congress 13 October 2015, Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre • Future Workforce Summit 21 – 22 October 2015, Raffles City Convention Centre Singapore • Managing Employee Disputes & Termination (China & Vietnam) 27 – 28 October, Singapore • Effective Change Management Masterclass 29 – 30 October, Singapore • Anti-Corruption & Whistleblowing Investigations Masterclass 4 – 5 November, Singapore • The Talent Congress 11 - 12 November 2015, Singapore • Employee Rewards + Big Data Congress 24 - 25 November 2015, Singapore • Learning Innovations Congress 2 - 3 December 2015, Singapore • Organization Development Masterclass 2 - 3 December 2015, Singapore

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GOING BEYOND SOURCING Companies of all sizes naturally hold career days to recruit new talent. But Starwood Hotels and Resorts’ career “day” is multiplied by 30 and is not your conventional recruitment exercise, as HRM discovers Sham Majid sham@hrmasia.com.sg


t is routine for organisations to conduct annual career days in order to attract fresh blood to their talent ranks. But what about running a whole “career month”? Starwood Hotels and Resorts Asia Pacific did just that this year, with the Starwood Careers Month taking place between June 10 and July 9. The month-long event was a refined extension of its Starwood Careers Day – an Asia Pacific-wide talent attraction exercise that had been taking place each year since 2012. So, what made Starwood morph its Careers Day into Careers Month? Claudia Al-Bala’a, Senior Vice President of HR, Starwood Hotels and Resorts AsiaPacific, says Starwood Careers Month consolidates the strengths of Starwood’s ten distinct hotel brands. It aims to show both external and internal talent the possibilities of a career with highly sought-after regional and global exposure, and the chance to make a difference in the communities in which the organisation operates in. “The month-long event features a series of events and activities focusing on both recruitment of external talent as well as career development of internal employees,” she says. “Starwood Careers Month will also 66 ISSUE 15.10


Christine Yu (3rd from right) - Regional Dir, Human Resources, Greater China during Starwood Careers Month in Taipei see current employees benefit, with some hotels organising an internal rotation day for associates to experience and understand more about what each department is doing.” Al-Bala’a explains Starwood Careers Months’ underlying internal development programme is Starwood Careers, which nurtures talents at three levels (entry, mid-management and executive level) throughout the organisation.

Multiplying by 30 Al-Bala’a says Starwood Recruitment Day was piloted in 2012 to recruit talent across China properties, given the surge in growth of that region. “Due to the overwhelming response from the event, it expanded to an Asia-Pacific wide initiative in 2013 to comprise of 200 participating hotels across 85 locations. “In 2014, the event was renamed ‘Starwood Careers Day’ – after our talent management system that has been

developed to fit our region’s unique needs,” she says. This year, Starwood Careers Month was extended beyond a day for external recruitment activities and internal employee engagement activities. “We took this further so that the hotels can have events and activities throughout the month that focus on different levels and talent pools,” Al-Bala’a says. “As Starwood continues its strong growth trajectory especially across Asia-Pacific, we believe that internal employer branding is equally as important as our recruitment efforts – hence taking the opportunity during Starwood Careers Month to strengthen the focus on our talent.” Just to give a glimpse of the sheer size of Starwood Careers Month, AlBala’a says that it was held at close to 300 participating hotels across AsiaPacific, including in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Vietnam, and China.

Not just about finding talent While Starwood Careers Month acts as a platform to introduce Starwood to talent in the locations the company operates in, Al-Bala’a says the programme also facilitates the gathering of a database for the organisation’s external talent pool for future job openings. “As an innovative hospitality company with distinct lifestyle brands, hotels in Starwood feature some very quirky jobs, such as the St Regis Butler, the W Insider, or even the RunWestin concierge. This means we look for all types of potential candidates, in order to elevate our guests’ experience,” she explains. Hence, through its strategy of attracting, developing and retaining talents, AlBala’a says Starwood sets itself apart through its passionate people, its brands, its innovation, and its ability to embrace what’s new; as well as belonging to a wider community and cause. “Starwood Careers Month is an opportunity to showcase these areas and we will seek to not only connect with potential candidates but to also share and show our ‘Starwood Cares’ culture as well as the Starwood Careers people development promise to our people and overall community,” shares Al-Bala’a. Tellingly, throughout the years, she reveals Starwood Careers Day has encapsulated Starwood’s talent strategy that goes beyond talent attraction, to also include building meaningful longterm careers for talent who join the organisation. “What is most important is that we have seen our associate engagement scores consistently improving year-on-year with Asia-Pacific achieving the highest rating of 91% in 2014,” says Al-Bala’a.

Cultivating a career developmental culture With the two-pronged approached to Starwood Careers Month – focusing on external potential candidates and also internal associates – Al-Bala’a says Starwood seeks to develop and meaningfully engage all, placing the spotlight on internal talent career growth and development. “From our associate engagement survey, 93% of Asia-Pacific associates told us they are proud to work with Starwood and what is important to them

includes job satisfaction, growth, and career development. Based on associate feedback, we continue to reinforce the growth opportunities in Starwood and create a culture of career development that provides aspiration and meaning for our associates,” she explains. Tellingly, findings from the Starwood Careers Day visitor survey from last year found that 23% of the visitors were there to network, and 35% were there to better understand the company and its distinct brands. Furthermore, Al-Bala’a says the organisation’s branding messages have sparked great interest and have helped it to reach out to a larger pool of external talent. That’s not just existing hoteliers who are interested in Starwood; but also candidates from other industries, students and fresh graduates. “We have also been successful in attracting talents outside the hospitality industry, with 27% of the visitors from non-hospitality sectors. This will help in our drive to achieve greater diversity in our talent,” she reveals (see: boxout). “This year, we decided to expand our target audience reach through social media. On our Starwood Facebook Careers page, there are some good engagement numbers so far as we launched the page in June during the Starwood Careers month, with the content reaching a total of 3.3 million

people, and a total of 6,000 followers within two months.”

Starwood’s “Win With Talent” strategy Al-Bala’a explains Starwood firmly believes the rapid growth and global success of the organisation is anchored on its associates and delivered through Starwood’s “Win With Talent” strategy. “Also, our belief to experience the world in a better way carries over to being a company that visibly cares. Our Starwood Cares Culture serves as the foundation in all we do across all of our 10 brands, including Starwood’s approach to talent management – from selecting the right associates to how we attract, develop and retain associates,” she elaborates. The Starwood Cares Culture conscientiously instils a culture of care for colleagues, the wider business, and the outside community. This was epitomised when Starwood snagged the Best Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Practices Award at this year’s HRM Awards. “A strong and identifiable organisational culture was cited as the top factor that made Starwood special for our associates. With Starwood Cares as the guiding principle, our associates are engaged and empowered to go the extra step, thus building guest loyalty which more often than not, translates to profitability,” she adds.

Empowering female talent In line with celebrating International Women’s Day this year, Starwood in Asia-Pacific announced a strategic roadmap that seeks to empower female associates through a series of initiatives, alongside leveraging on existing programmes. According to Claudia Al-Bala’a, Senior Vice President of HR, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Asia-Pacific, the roadmap comprises of initiatives, programmes and trainings aimed to prepare female associates for executive positions. Since 2003, Starwood Careers has nurtured more than 10,600 associates across various levels in the organisation and sourced closed to 72% of its female General Managers (GMs) internally. As part of the roadmap, Starwood Asia-Pacific partnered with the Hospitality Industry Pipeline Coalition to launch a case study that supports the organisation’s case for diversity and inclusion. Starwood Hotels in Asia-Pacific has also signed the United Nations’ Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEP), pledging to support the empowerment and advancement of women in the workplace and community. In addition to leadership programmes available in Asia-Pacific, Starwood is now piloting a Global Female General Manager Leadership Programme globally. This is a targeted strategy to help advance women through the pipeline to the General Manager role.

ISSUE 15.10



A sound

philosophy For a company that has been around for as long as Singapore has been an independent nation, Atlas Sound & Vision applies its well-defined principles to guide and drive policymaking Muneerah Bee muneerah.b@hrmasia.com.sg


ith about 100 employees currently, Atlas Sound & Vision has grown from its roots in retail over the past 50 years. The company started out selling audio-visual products, before branching out into the distribution and project business. The growth to accommodate all three businesses did require some adjustments. “Because of the nature of our growth, all our policies and approach tended to be retail-focused. So there were certain things that didn’t really work for the additional businesses we grew into,” Sherwin Siregar, CEO, Atlas Sound & Vision, recalls about the company’s early progression. For example, when the company was trying to achieve better work-life balance for staff, employees were scheduled to work for three days, followed by a single day off. As such, they had eight days off every month, even if they do not fall on weekends. This was a bit better than the retail market practice at that time, according to Siregar. However, the shift arrangement did not work in other areas, especially in the project business where staff sometimes worked late hours because sound system installation could only be done after the mall or restaurant was closed. What made it easier to resolve issues like this was sticking to a single philosophy behind the policies. “The principle is we would like people to have work-life balance so now, how would we this translate this in this context?”

Clear values

Piecing together words to form the company’s mission and vision

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That approach to shaping HR policies has helped Atlas to clearly define itself and enhance its employer branding. “We are very clear that we have quite a bit of a family culture, and we think that family is very important,” Siregar continues. One of the company’s successful policies was the implementation of its flexi-family care leave five years ago, which employees can use to attend to family commitments. It

SME SPOTLIGHT applies to family members of any kind, and any kind of family arrangements. As such, employees can use the flexi-family care leave for their child’s school registration; to take their elderly parents to medical appointments, or a host of other family-related appointments. It started with five days, and Atlas employees currently enjoy six days of flexi-family care leave per year. Making sure that employees are able to care for their families goes beyond providing flexible leave benefits. “If employees do not have a good work environment, they will go home in a bad mood and it will greatly affect their family lives. So, can you imagine there are young children in Singapore who grow up experiencing grumpy and angry parents, who are not really there for them for five days a week?” Siregar asks. He acknowledges business leaders leave an impact on their staff in this way too, and there is also a very clear business case for a positive work culture because employers will get the best version of their staff when they have a peace of mind about their family lives.

Conversations for success One of the employee engagement and performance management initiatives at Atlas takes the form of having performance conversations, where employees talk about their passions, progress and experiences at work, as well as what can be done to help them grow and be more successful in their jobs. “I ask questions like ‘If you won the lottery today and you never have to work, what would you miss most about work?’,” Siregar says. “We want to draw those things that people really like about their jobs.” Although the conversations are seen as informal check-ins with the staff, they are still documented and acted upon, as part of the larger performance management process. Siregar acknowledges that employees have different strengths, and may have varying methods of working to achieve the best results. He says line managers must be able to recognise this among their teams. For example, a sales manager may have a long list of potential clients to call, follow up and make appointments. So even if the conversion rate is rather low, good results are still achieved in the end. On the other hand, another salesperson may not have such a list but his strength lies in building the relationships so his conversion is higher, and his success is achieved differently. In this example, it would be tough to implement one method or workflow to all salespeople, and the managers must be able to understand what works best for each employee. “So the challenge is to have the managers who are equipped with this skill,” Siregar says. To help achieve this, Atlas plans to organise workshops and leverage on profiling tools to help

Skipping as a team activity

Purple Team is the top team at Staff Day employees identify their strengths. While plans for this are still in the early stages, it is something that will help the company’s employees and propel them in their roles.

Dismantling HR Atlas employees can also look forward to something new in the future. Moving forward, Siregar wants to do away with the HR department altogether, and replace it with a department of “employee experience”. Siregar says, “The term ‘HR’ is often associated with administrative duties but I think that this department is about the employee experience because everything from recruitment to induction to performance management; all these things which HR is a custodian of, is the employee experience. “My goal is to have a department of employee experience in two years, so I think that puts a very different slant to the HR role in our company.”

A sense of awareness One of the recruitment challenges for Atlas Sound & Vision is finding candidates who are “awakened” as CEO Sherwin Siregar puts it. “They are awake to who they are, what their values are, and what their passions are. “You meet many people, who are not bad candidates but they don’t know what they want to do. They might not say it outright, but you can hear that they don’t know when they respond to some questions during the interview session. “So, if the candidates don’t know their values, we have to spend quite a lot of time during the interview to uncover certain scenarios and behaviours that they encountered in the past to infer their values, which is more accurate than just listening to what they have prepared to say for the interview. “I think it is also about having that level of sensitivity during the recruitment process,” he explains. “Sometimes, the interview is a self-discovery for the candidates.”

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LAUNCHING IN OCTOBER www.hrsummit.com.sg Over 4,000 Business Professionals 80 Exhibitors 5 Conference Streams 1 Mega Show

Watch This Space! Why Attend? • Learn new skills and upgrade your current ones • Hear from the experts • Network with your peers • Meet with new solution providers and suppliers • Stay relevant and connected!

AHRDSPEAKS Regional HR management: No “one size fits all” solution


he growth of emerging markets, technological developments, and increasing connectivity are all changing the way businesses function across Asia-Pacific – both externally and internally. It’s no longer possible to apply an all-purpose strategy across such a multi-faceted region. And nor should we. As HR professionals, we should take proactive steps to ensure our businesses reflect the environment around us. As we develop as a region, different markets will transform at a

different pace depending on the sophistication of clients and the workforce. The key is to be client-centric and market-led, focusing on the most effective way of delivering locally. At TNS, we are going through a period of transformation ourselves as we embed digital solutions into the business and align ourselves with a more connected world. This means adapting our talent profile and communicating our strategic roadmap to our employees wherever they may be. Our HR operating model of the future is focused on a “glocal”

structure – connecting markets directly to global expertise through a network of expertise rather than specific “centres of excellence”. This removes the regional gateway and ensures best-inclass practices go directly to the markets, where HR teams can customise for local relevance. We think the regional HR structure should enable transformation and not enforce it. The key is keeping it lean and agile - flexible enough to accommodate our diverse markets but supportive enough to truly affect change.

Narelle Burke Regional HR Director, Asia-Pacific, TNS

60% CASH BACK The Productivity Innovation Credit (PIC) Scheme

The Talent Congress

From Talent Management to People Management 18 – 19 November 2015 | Singapore

Managing talent has always been the cornerstone of businesses but now it needs to shift gears and realign itself to business strategy. The demographic shift, the widening skills gap and the entry of ‘Millennials’ into the workforce is profoundly affecting businesses. Companies need to respond quickly to these trends and prepare for the new talent innovations in recruiting, monitoring performance, rewarding and managing in order to attract and retain vital talent. The Talent Congress 2015 challenges traditional approaches to talent management through case-studies, presentations and panel discussions. We bring together some of the most forward-thinking HR leaders to discuss changing dynamics within the workforce and the steps they are taking to stay ahead.

Contact Me to Register: Azrielle Looi Huiyi | Tel: (65) 6423 4631 | Email: info@hrmasia.com.sg ISSUE 15.10




HR FROM THE CLASSROOM Every month, HRM speaks to a young university talent hoping to carve out a career in HR upon graduation

What attracted you to HR? Why are you studying it? I believe that managing people well is instrumental to building a healthy and progressive organisation. When people are well-managed, social capital is generated, and together with human capital, these sources of capital have tremendous positive effects on an organisation. Having had many opportunities to work closely with different people to run events and programmes, I have realised that the secret to any successful event is the people behind it. What matters most is not the difficulty of the project at hand, but the quality of the team and the synergy between team members. There is value and meaning in managing and influencing an organisation’s most important resource – its people. I chose to study HR in NUS Business School because someone I respect once said that managing people is neither a science nor an art, as much as it is a craft. As a craftsman, one has to master both soft and hard skills, and through experiences, perfect the amalgamation between both types of abilities.

What aspect of HR do you hope to specialise in upon graduation? I would like to specialise in the area of performance management. I believe that a meaningful and valueadding performance management system can contribute significantly to talent retention and employee motivation. This would require me to understand the operations and strategy of the company intimately. I am excited by the challenge of using

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social and human capital within a company to help it achieve business success.

The top three things you want from your HR career? Firstly, I would like to better understand what makes employees tick and what makes them leave, especially in a practical and complex world. Having such insights would be useful for my personal growth as well. Secondly, I would like to be able to hone my interpersonal and leadership skills, and learn to be a leader whom people would want to follow. Thirdly, I would like to see growth in an organisation driven by motivated employees.

What challenges do you anticipate? In my past internship experience in a small start-up, HR management has been perceived by SMEs as a secondary function, and they choose to focus on more “urgent” aspects such as sales and operations management. People or human capital is usually the last thing an SME will invest limited capital and resources in. Talent attraction and retention are thus a challenge faced by SMEs, especially in an open economy like Singapore, where competition for talent is global and intense. Moreover, younger employees are increasingly concerned with employer branding, wanting to associate themselves with well-established organisations in the market.

Your HR career five years from now? I will be working in a social enterprise

Anna Fam Hui Wen Final Year Business, Specialisations in Management and Human Capital, NUS Business School, National University of Singapore

under the Singapore National Cooperative Federation, with a service bond of two years upon graduation. After my service term, I would be interested to practise HR in a multinational or within a government ministry.

Hobbies/Inspiration? I enjoy volunteering in nursing homes and in community hospitals during my free time to interact with the elderly. For more effective interaction, I am currently trying to perfect my Cantonese and am also picking up Hakka.

Using performance management to retain talent in an organisation Anna Fam Hui Wen


alent attraction and retention has been a hot topic for companies in Singapore, where people are our only resource. With the escalating global war for talent in recent years, companies are facing bigger challenges in both attracting and retaining talent. Notably, in a knowledge-based economy, a company’s competitive advantage lies in the people it hires. This truth is especially applicable to companies in the financial and consulting industries, where differentiation of products and services is highly dependent on the quality of the employees involved. Performance management is the process through which managers ensure that employees and divisions contribute to the organisation’s goals. It is a continuous process of identifying, measuring and developing the performance of individuals and teams, with the purpose of aligning their performance with the strategic goals of the entire organisation. Performance management is not to be confused with performance appraisal, which typically occurs only once a year and lacks the element of providing ongoing feedback to employees. As such, performance appraisals alone can be meaningless when done for the mere sake of documentation. The performance management system fulfills many purposes, including strategic, administrative and developmental functions, among others.

Purposes of performance management • Strategic purpose: Performance management links the individual employee’s aims and team objectives to the strategic goals of the organisation, as well as

communicates crucial business initiatives to them. In this way, every member moves forward in unity and in tandem with the organisation. • Administrative purpose: Performance management serves as a source of information to managers when they make decisions regarding employee rewards, promotion and retention. • Developmental purpose: In providing constant employee feedback, performance management helps to build up employees by identifying their strengths and by working on their weaknesses. With a good performance management system in place, the entire organisation benefits. Higher level goals are communicated downwards to every employee in the organisation, thereby creating a cascading effect throughout the entire corporate body. An effective process will thus be able to inspire individual contributions to the organisation’s mission and goals. In many organisations, individual key performance indicators (KPIs) can conflict with the team’s KPIs, which may not eventually be in line with the organisation’s strategic goals. A good performance management system is capable of eliminating these inconsistencies and ensuring alignment across the organisation.

Assistance in talent retention So then, how does a good performance management system help to retain talent within an organisation? • With a system aligned with the organisation’s strategic goals and core values, it helps to define the organisation’s identity as well as set the company culture. This, in the

long run, attracts and keeps the right people within the organisation. • Good planning and execution of performance management clarifies job expectations and the success criteria for the employee, increasing the motivation to perform while developing the employee personally and professionally. • An effective system aids managers in choosing who to, and who not to promote. Promoting the right people is crucial and sends a signal to the entire organisation about the values a company cherishes. One example can be found in the case of Morgan Stanley, featured in the Harvard Business School study Rob Parson at Morgan Stanley. The manager faces a dilemma regarding whether to promote his star revenue producer to the role of a managing director. While Parson brings in a huge amount of revenue, he does so with disregard of the company’s strategic values: to foster teamwork and innovation by treating each other with dignity and respect. To promote him will mean sending a message to other employees that individual goals matter more than organisation goals, which erodes the company culture and value in the long run. A good performance management system will prevent or make it difficult for the wrong people to be promoted, and that should be what HR is working towards. In summary, a strong external employer branding can help companies attract talent, but it takes more than this to keep them for long. A good performance management system is crucial in ensuring that they feel engaged, recognised and motivated.

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Director/Manager, Human Resources

Retail Trainer

Regional Compensation and Benefits Analyst

› Well recognised global company › Excellent communication and interpersonal skills

› Experience in stand-up training › Excellent communication and presentation skills

› Global industrial MNC › Centre of Excellence function

Our client, a global transport company is looking for a HR Manager for their team in Singapore.

Our client, a well established retail brand is looking for a retail trainer for their organisation.

Reporting to the VP of HR, you will act as a HRBP to the team in Singapore, overseeing the business in workforce planning, driving recruitment activities, rolling out leadership programs as well as collaborating with the global HQ on training needs analysis and rolling out programs in Asia. A major responsibility for this role will focus on expatriate management. This includes advising on compensation packages, performance management and providing onboarding, and career support.

In-charge of training needs across all outlets in Singapore, you will be responsible for managing the existing training programs as well as introducing new ones according to the business needs. You will be responsible for conducting stand-up training on topics including customer service, sales and soft skills. You will also be responsible for maintaining the training calendar and ensuring all the training materials are kept updated.

Reference number: AJ/JD51958/HRM Contact person: Amruta Joshi (Reg. No. R1328823)

Being ACTA certified, you need to have minimum 3 years of relevant experience in conducting stand-up training. Hands-on and energetic with excellent communication and presentation skills, you will be able to work independently and in a team within a vibrant and fast-paced environment.

Reference number: AJ/JD21920/HRM Contact person: Amruta Joshi (Registration Number R1328823)

You will lead the review and development of Compensation & Benefits strategies, policies and programmes to ensure competitiveness, and manage global mobility activities. Partnering with Business and HR leaders, you will recommend and enhance related plans, programs and initiatives to contribute to the overall success of the business. You will play led roles in driving program and projects, and ensure compliance and governance processes. Degree qualified with Compensation & Benefits professional certifications such as CCP or GRP, you have minimum 6 years of relevant experience including Asia Pacific exposure gained within MNC. Ideally you have worked within Centre of Excellence model with experience integrating related programs and policies. You are a hands-on team player with influencing ability, have strong analytical, project management and presentation skills, and have operated in a highly matrix and fast-paced environment. Reference number: MH/JD49644/HRM Contact person: Maureen Ho (Registration Number R1105976)

Your Human Resources recruitment specialists To apply, please go to talent2.com and search for respective reference number. For a confidential discussion, you can contact the relevant consultant for the specific position in our Singapore Office on +65 6511 8555.  linkedin.com/company/talent2

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Allegis Group Singapore Pte Ltd Company No. 200909448N EA Licence No. 10C4544


Successful candidate is degree qualified in Human Resources management or related fields with between 8 and 10 years of relevant experience in an MNC. Highly motivated and resourceful, you have a can-do attitude and are willing to take on new challenges. You are a team player and should be comfortable building relationships at all levels of organisation.

An industrial player with global footprint, our client is seeking for an accomplished Compensation & Benefits Analyst to perform a key role in the Centre of Excellence team.


Regional HR Business Partner

HR Business Partner, South-East Asia

Total Rewards Director, Asia Pacific

› Visibility to senior management › Team leading role

› Strategic position › Strong career growth opportunities

› Strong visibility to the business › Positive organisational culture

Our client is a global medical devices business with a strong presence across the Asia Pacific and Middle East regions. Reporting to the VP HR Asia Pacific, you will be supporting the supply chain business unit. This newly created role will be critical in establishing robust processes and driving a new business-aligned people strategy. There will be a leadership component, and the role will be strategic at times. In addition, this person must possess the operational horsepower to deep dive in areas such as HR operations, talent management and talent acquisition. We are looking for a strong leader with some regional experience across Asia Pacific.

Our client is a global manufacturing business with a strong presence across South-East Asia and they are currently looking to expand their businesses across the region. Reporting directly to the General Manager for the business unit and with a dotted line to the Head of HR, you will implement strategic initiatives across South East Asia while leading a small team. You will support business growth by providing efficient, consistent and proactive consultancy support to all business leaders. In addition, you will keep the organisation abreast of the latest processes and policies in order to remain competitive in the market. We are looking for a strong change leader with some regional experience.

Our client is a renowned global leader in the financial industry with a strong footprint in Asia Pacific. They are looking for an Asia Pacific Total Rewards Director to design and deliver compensation and benefits programs across the region. Reporting to the Global Rewards Director, you will be responsible for analysing and reviewing existing policies to ensure that they are competitive and serve to attract and retain stellar talent in the organisation. Ideally, you should have at least 10 years of experience gained in a private banking environment. Key to your success is your ability to excel in a fast-paced environment, earn the buy in from the business and successfully roll out C&B initiatives.

Please contact Sean Tong (Reg. no:1110029) quoting ref: H2934460 or visit our website.

Please contact Sheldon Toh (Reg. no: R1438671) quoting ref: H2890620 or visit our website.

Please contact Eugene Wong (Reg. no: R1331128) quoting ref: H2948630 or visit our website.

To apply for any of the above positions, please go to www.michaelpage.com.sg and search for the reference number, or contact the relevant consultant on +65 6533 2777 for a confidential discussion.

Get Connected. Stay Ahead.

Specialists in human resources recruitment

Human Resources

#15564 | Michael Page International Pte Ltd (EA Licence No.98C5473) is part of the PageGroup. Registered Office: One Raffles Place, #09-61 Office Tower Two, Singapore 048616



EMPOWERING YOUR CAREER Country HR Manager (Retail)

Regional Rewards Manager (Manufacturing)

Respected retail brand High impact role, leading a team of HR professionals Good career growth

Monitor and maintain Compensation & Benefits Lead Asia-Pacific team West-Singapore based

Our client, a well-recognised retail brand, is actively seeking a Country HR Manager for Singapore. As the Country HR Manager, you will lead a team of Singapore-based HR professionals, overseeing the full remit of HR operations and planning HR strategies in line with future business needs. Ideal candidates should have experience in managing a HR team within a leading retail business with outlet presence in Singapore. You should have a minimum of 10 years’ relevant experience, with at least 5 years in HR management. You must have a thorough understanding of both operational and strategic HR matters. Candidates should also hold a Bachelor’s degree (as a minimum) and other HR certifications.

Our client, a global manufacturing business with a widely recognised brand, is seeking a Regional Rewards Manager for the Asia Pacific region. Reporting to the Head of HR Shared Services, and leading a team of in-country Rewards Specialists, you will develop and promote rewards strategies across multiple sections of the business in the Asia Pacific region. You should be business-savvy and an excellent communicator, able to develop strong relationships with all internal stakeholders, and effectively assess rewards initiatives. To be successful, you should have at least 8 years’ experience of working in a rewards focused role, with at least 3 years in an APAC leadership role. You should possess a good understanding of payroll and tax issues, ideally working in a similar role for a large MNC.

If you meet the above criteria, please email your detailed CV in WORD format to jon_williams@kellyservices.com.sg. We regret that only shortlisted candidates will be notified. Robert Jonothan Williams EA Personnel Registration No. R1439599

Kelly Services, Inc. (NASDAQ: KELYA, KELYB) is a leader in providing workforce solutions globally. For more than 35 years, Kelly in Singapore has been partnering the finest

local companies, key government agencies as well as some of the world’s most respected multinational companies to deliver the best talent in the market. Kelly’s centralised recruitment hub makes nearly 21,000 placements in Singapore last year. Complementing our general staffing capability, Kelly also offers great expertise in the sourcing of specialised professionals across technical disciplines such as Engineering, Technology and Science, as well as functional specialties for Finance, HR, Sales & Marketing, Procurement and Banking.


Kelly Services (Singapore) Pte Ltd | EA License No. 01C4394 | RCB No. 200007268E

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Headquartered in Singapore since 2003, Kerry Consulting is Singapore’s leading Search & Selection firm. Our consulting team is the most experienced, and amongst the largest, in the ASEAN region. We offer positions in the following sectors: Banking & Financial Services Commerce Finance Energy & Commodities Engineering & Supply Chain Healthcare & Life Sciences Human Resources Legal Sales & Marketing Technology

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www.kerryconsulting.com | Returning the Human to Resourcing

Regional HR Manager, US MNC

Senior Talent Development Manager, Retail Industry

Technical Learning & Development Specialist, Telecommunications

New Role Fortune 500 Company Regional Franchise Experience

US MNC APAC Role Strong L&D Experience

Highly Visible Telecommunications Giant Excellent Work-Life Balance Very Good Career Prospects

This is one of the top Fortune 500 Companies, headquartered in USA. Reporting to the HR Director, you will be responsible for 13 markets within the APAC region. You will manage Compensation & Benefits activities for the Asia Franchise, which include developing and recommending policies and procedures, monitoring marketplace competitiveness, and ensuring legislative compliance and overall consistency with the global directions. You will also lead and execute Talent Management, Employee Development, Performance Management, Compensation Management, Employee Engagement, and the HRIS System, as well as oversee the review of functional structure and ensure that the Global Employee System is implemented in the Singapore office.

This is a US MNC retail company with a Talent Management team based in Singapore.

This is a highly-visible telecommunications giant with a significant headcount in Singapore. Reporting to the Learning & Development Manager, you will be responsible for the technical training requirements for the IT and Engineering functions within the business. You will be involved in curriculum development, the design of technical competency frameworks, as well as vendor management.

Ideally, you will have a minimum of 7 years of experience in Human Resource Management area. In addition, you should possess strong influencing skills, experience in business partnering, and the ability to excel in a driven culture. To apply, please submit your resume to Joy Seow at js@kerryconsulting.com, quoting the job title and reference number JS9100. We regret that only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.

In this newly created role, you will grow the team and be responsible for streamlining and standardising learning/talent development programmes. You will also work in close collaboration with HRBPs and their businesses to establish a pipeline and build a culture of high performing leaders, teams, and individuals across the Asia Pacific region and India. In addition, you will play a critical role in Talent Strategies, which will incorporate Acquisition, Planning, and Development, and ensure that these are aligned with the vision and goals of the business. Ideally, you will have a Bachelor’s Degree. You should also be an expert in best practices for learning and development, instructional design, programme evaluation, and learning technologies. To apply, please submit your resume to Joy Seow at js@kerryconsulting.com, quoting the job title and reference number JS9005. We regret that only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.

You will have at least 3 years of experience in Learning & Development and a strong understanding of the technical environment. You should also be experienced in developing competency frameworks and working with training vendors. To apply, please submit your resume to Junchen at jc@kerryconsulting.com, quoting the job title. We regret that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. Reg No.: 03C4828

Reg No.: R1107886

Reg No.: R1107886

HRBP – Global Engineering Organisation

Workday Specialist, Manufacturing

Group HR Director – FMCG Industry

Global Prominent Engineering Organisation Local Scope Attractive Remuneration

Huge Regional Project Great Work Culture Valuable Work Exposure

Prominent FMCG Organisation Senior HR Leadership Role Regional Exposure

This prominent organisation has recorded impressive business growth in the region. In your role, you will provide HR advice and services to the Oil and Gas engineering segment for Singapore. Working closely with the regional HR team and HR product specialists, you will engage business leaders and functional managers in delivering a HR agenda. You will also provide support in diverse matters, including performance, reward, and talent management, so as to achieve people objectives through business strategies. In addition, you will participate in strategic HR projects.

This is a US MNC in the manufacturing industry. Reporting to the Project Lead, you will be part of the Workday implementation team that oversees all processes from P1 to go-live and support. You will be responsible for project management, which includes working in close collaboration with the IT vendors and business stakeholders. You will also assist in the data migration process, modules implementation, and testing.

This is a leading player in the FMCG sector. Asia Pacific has been a strategic focus for the organisation and it is becoming increasingly important as further growth is planned for this global hub. Reporting directly to the Global VP HR, you will manage a small team and be responsible for all aspects of human resources business partnering for a high performance commercial organisation with complex operations, where some markets are undergoing double-digit growth rates. You will focus on areas such as Learning & Development, talent roadmapping, performance evaluation, best practices, and the development of strategic HR strategies, which will help you gain wide exposure throughout the HQ and start on a clear path towards a global role.

To apply, please submit your resume to Finian at ft@kerryconsulting.com, quoting the job title. We regret that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. Reg No.: R1104310

You will have at least 4 years of experience in HR systems implementation. Experience in Workday is highly desirable, but candidates with good knowledge of other HR systems such as SAP, Peoplesoft, or Prosoft will also be considered. To apply, please submit your resume to Junchen at jc@kerryconsulting.com, quoting the job title. We regret that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. Reg No.: 03C4828

To apply, please submit your resume to Finian at ft@kerryconsulting.com, quoting the job title. We regret that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. Reg No.: R1104310

Licence No: 03C4828

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Regional HR Director Build & strengthen SEA talent pipelines

On the back of promising growth, an established advertising group with a global footprint is looking for a HR Manager, SEA & EA to be the centre point of its HR alignment efforts in the region. You will partner with line management and HR management across the region to implement global HR initiatives and streamline processes. With over 10 years of commercial HR experience, you will ideally have strong references within a HR shared services background and have championed HR projects and initiatives at a regional level. Contact Sean Wong (Reg ID: R1101782) on the details below.

With their growth in APAC an established advertising network is poised to create the role of Regional HR Director to grow their agency workforce in SEA. Taking the lead for talent development and management you will be instrumental in laying the foundations for the consolidated growth for the network in this region. With over 10 years of commercial HR experience, you will ideally have a good mix of operational and strategic HR experience including in organisational development and talent management. Contact Sean Wong (Reg ID: R1101782) on the details below.

Regional Payroll Manager (Global banking) Head the team across Singapore & Hong Kong

Compensation & Benefits Specialist Gain experience in the Philippines

A fantastic opportunity has arisen in a reputable multinational organisation within the corporate and investment banking industry for a Regional Payroll Manager. Reporting into the Head of HR and leading the payroll team, you will be the point of contact for all payroll matters within the region. You will be partnering and supporting various stakeholders to deliver a compelling level of standard across all business units. This role will play an integral part in corporate strategy within the region and ensure that operations are aligned to specific local regulations and law. Contact Edwin Lee (Reg ID: R1546591) on the details below.

This is a newly created opportunity in the Philippines, with a global provider of enterprise software solutions. Their products are often labelled as state of the art and rated as market leading by industry experts. With their HR operations in the Philippines, they are looking to add a new member to the team. As the Compensation & Benefits Specialist, you will be reporting directly to the Compensation & Benefits Manager who is also in the Philippines. Your primary responsibilities will be to support on all aspects of compensation related activities including but not limited to policies, processes, benefits and rewards. Contact Divyaanshi Malhotra (Reg ID: R1324897) on the details below.

Please contact our team of recruiting experts at hr.singapore@hays.com.sg or on +65 6303 0721.


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GRADUATE TRAINEE PROGRAM (GLOBAL MNC) MULTIPLE OPPORTUNITIES On behalf of BRF, Hays is searching for talented individuals from top tier universities across Asia to join their Future Leaders Program. Owner of renowned brands such as Sadia and Perdigão, BRF is one of the biggest producers of refrigerated and frozen protein food in the world. Today, they are the 8th biggest food company, reaching 120 countries. BRF has an ambitious plan to reach more consumers around the world with high quality and innovative products. To accomplish this mission in Asia, they need to develop entrepreneurial leaders with a global mindset, ready to lead the company to the different markets where they operate in the region. The BRF Future Leaders Program is a graduate trainee rotational program which lasts for 12 months and is structured in three phases, culminating in a permanent placement within the business in Asia, within HR, Sales or Marketing. With an entrepreneurial spirit, you will have the drive to contribute to BRF’s growth plan, adhere to their values and be internationally flexible. This exciting opportunity is for both fresh graduates as well as graduates with up to two years work experience. If you want to be part of a transformation process and believe that the journey is more important than the destination, then please send your CV to hr.singapore@hays.com.sg

Hays Specialist Recruitment Pte Ltd EA Licence Number: 07C3924


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e-HR SOLUTIONS e-learn e-coach e-develop e-talent e-perform e-reward





Formerly Steve Morris Associates





www.talentowl.com isaac@talentowl.com

Profile for HRM Asia

HRM 15.10  

- Bringing out the best in SMEs

HRM 15.10  

- Bringing out the best in SMEs

Profile for hrmasia