DSM: THE BIG COMPANY FEW HAVE HEARD OF FAIR AND LEGAL TERMINATION PRACTICES
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WHY IT’S TIME TO EMBRACE JOB-HOPPING
Failure IS AnOption
PropertyGuru’s Hari V.Krishnan says staff need to “sink” before they can find success
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side from my professional duties, I am also an ardent supporter of Liverpool Football Club (cue the taunts from my HR “rivals”). Like every single Liverpool fan around the world, I am still waiting for the day when my beloved “Reds” can end their ongoing 27-year title drought. Having been one of the major footballing powers globally in the 1970s and 1980s, Liverpool is a classic example of the fate that can befall organisations that sit back and rest on their laurels. A series of poor on-field campaigns in the early 1990s, along with the club’s lack of commercial foresight to connect its brand with its passionate fanbase overseas, has seen the club playing catch-up for more than two decades. Liverpool’s new CEO Peter Moore, who took the club’s reins in June, is tasked with maximising the club’s revenues. Having previously been employed by the likes of Sega, Microsoft and Reebok, Moore said football isn’t very different from the organisations he worked for in Silicon Valley. “The challenge of modern football is also to keep up; not to get left behind. “Looking from afar, I see clubs that were powerhouses when I was a boy dropping off the pace and losing touch. That is always sad, because once it happens, it is very hard to catch up again and become relevant,” he said. The key takeaway here is relevance.
Instead of allowing complacency to creep into the ranks of an organisation, every leader should assiduously foster a culture of innovation, risk-taking, and creativity. And it’s HR that needs to guide this process at all levels, ensuring staff are ready to pounce on any opportunity. Failure to do so could result in a deeprooted malaise, something that Liverpool has spent years trying to weed itself out from. “Should you reach a position where you don’t think you can do any better, that is dangerous territory. If you are in business and you think you are perfect, you are [dead],” Moore cautioned. There may have been a tinge of complacency after Liverpool won its last championship in 1990, but 27 years on, the club is seeking to regain its relevance as one of the world’s most pre-eminent football clubs. Just as all organisations are striving to do so today in the corporate world. Best regards (and remember – “You’ll Never Walk Alone”),
SHAM MAJID Editor, HRM Asia
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AU G U S T 2 0 1 7
ON THE COVER
FROM SINK TO SWIM
It’s not the usual recipe, but for Hari Krishnan, CEO of the PropertyGuru Group, it is failure that truly breeds success. In an exclusive chat with HRM Magazine, he explains the unique culture behind Southeast Asia’s market-leading online property portal
“You cannot enjoy success unless you have failed, and you cannot really understand the dangers unless the environment allows you a slight chance to fail” – HARI KRISHNAN
F E AT U R E S
18 SHIFTING MINDSETS
Job hopping – when workers flit between jobs, staying only a short time in each role – is on the rise in Asia-Pacific. But the practice is not the red flag that it once was for recruiters
28 FOR ALL WALKS OF LIFE
Dutch material solutions provider DSM is a commitment to innovation has seen the organisation take a progressive position on diversity and inclusion, well-ahead of its peers
32WHEN SEPARATIONS GET UGLY
With the tougher economic climate pushing more organisations towards large-scale retrenchments, HR has to be aware of the legal implications. HRM Magazine speaks with leading employment lawyers about the key issues surrounding termination
39 BRINGING SCIENCE TO HR
It’s not just finance and business acumen that is required for HR professionals to truly succeed in today’s corporate world. Stephane Michaud, Senior Director of Human Link Asia, makes his case on why HR should also tap onto science and research
WANT TO GET CONNECTED? Get in touch with us here
42 A RENEWED FOCUS
Seng Hua Hng Foodstuff, renowned for its traditional delicacies, is determined not to fall prey to obsolete manpower practices. HRM Magazine finds out more
46 BEYOND THE NUMBERS
Alexis Saussinan, Head of Organisation Development and People Analytics at Merck, explains how his team has integrated employee data into organisational development
04 06 10 23 60
BEST OF HRMASIA.COM NEWS LEADERS ON LEADERSHIP INFOGRAPHIC TWO CENTS
MY HR CAREER HR WHERE IT 50 LEARNING TRULY MATTERS
While much has changed over the years, Lim Zhi Rong, HR Director at Unilever, says HR remains a profession where practitioners need to have both their head and their heart in the game
52 52 53 54 55 56
HR CLINIC HR PEP TALK UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL CONGRESS WRAP READER ADVICE EXECUTIVE APPOINTMENTS AUGUST 2017
BEST OF HRMASIA.COM
.com Watch - HR in Focus
Returning for the first HR in Focus episode since March, Sham Majid talks Uber’s wayward CEO, culture, and innovation with Grundfos’ Gary Lee and Publicis Group’s Ben Roberts.
Search All new content, updated daily HRM Magazine’s exciting new web portal is your source for Asia-focused business intelligence about workforce issues. With more content than ever before, it is a daily destination for anyone in the HR profession – so don’t get left behind! In the last month, our editorial team put together:
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“WHEN HR PROFESSIONALS CULTIVATE A HABIT OF LEARNING, OVER TIME, THEY BECOME EXPERTS IN THEIR OWN FIELDS WHETHER IT IS ORGANISATIONAL DEVELOPMENT, OR RECRUITMENT, OR SOMETHING ELSE” Laurence Yap says the concept of lifelong learning is particularly valuable for those in the HR profession – increased knowledge can have an immediate, positive impact on the business
he role of the recruiter will morph into (that of) a talent advisor and relationship manager, as technology can now take away the grunt work of recruiting, giving them time to work at a more strategic level and deliver more value.”
Adele Png says the role of talent acquisition professionals is changing, for the better
Don’t wait for the published magazine each month – the best of HRM Asia’s news, features, and analysis are available both online and through our e-newsletters. Subscribe to each of HR in Practice, HRM Asia News Weekly, and My HR Career by heading to www.hrmasia.com/subscribe, and remember to stay updated throughout the week by checking into www.hrmasia.com.
“Starting up in a new business without people, systems, and processes is challenging – there are so many transactional activities that you might [not] allocate enough time and effort to develop a winning culture”
The Unity Group of Companies’ Karen Pink warns not to underestimate the difficulty of starting an SME’s HR function from scratch AUGUST 2017
SHELL INCREASES MATERNITY OFFER ENERGY CONGLOMERATE Shell is now offering staff at its Hong Kong office 16 weeks of paid maternity leave. The new scheme, which kicked off on July 1, is up from the 10 weeks that all female employees were entitled to previously. Paternity leave for new fathers was not altered, and remains at five days. Shell Hong Kong was one of the first Shell businesses to implement the scheme, which will roll out globally from January 1 next year. Shell says it hopes that the increased benefit will encourage female employees “to remain with us and to continue to develop their careers, if or when they have children”. Other companies to offer 16 weeks maternity leave benefits from this year include Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore, and Maybank in Malaysia.
NEW DELHI, INDIA
SPEAK OUT AND LOSE BENEFITS INDIA’S NATIONAL CARRIER has warned
SPECTACULAR CYBERCRIME FAILURE A COMPUTER ENGINEER has been jailed after attempting to sell his firm’s
data to a supposed competitor. Incredibly, the data Shreesha Rao tried to sell was actually already owned by the intended recipient. The New Indian Express reported that Rao, a design and drafting professional for a company called New Generation, contacted rival SBT Associates and offered to sell his company’s data. After SBT Associates concurred, he sent the data as an attachment to his personal email, and then forwarded it to the buyer. However, unbeknown to Rao, SBT Associates was a vendor of Next Generation, and the target data was actually sourced from its software. The CEO of SBT Associates subsequently tipped off New Generation about the data breach, which then lodged a complaint with cybercrime authorities in Bangalore.
former staff they will face serious repercussions if they criticise the airline publicly. Air India says it will even withdraw post-retirement benefits from critics in print, electronic, and social media. The warning was disseminated as a corporate order by the executive director, and approved by Air India’s managing director Ashwani Lohani. “It has been noticed in the recent past that a few retired personnel of Air India are tarnishing the image of the company by posting negative remarks about the company on
social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp, and also in electronic and print media. It is unacceptable that a person who is availing post-retirement facilities from Air India talks against the company,” said the order. “Retired personnel who make such negative comments with the intention of tarnishing the image of the company will themselves be responsible for cessation of their postretirement facilities.” According to The Economic Times, exemployees of Air India are entitled to free flights and contributory medical allowances.
WORKING THROUGH DISASTERS A UNION FOR department store clerks and sales workers in
Taiwan says most of its members are forced to report for work during natural disasters, including typhoons. It recently held a protest outside the Ministry of Labour in Taipei, insisting that the government issues a “Natural Disaster Work Holiday” law as soon as possible. The union says 70% of its members had been forced to work during a typhoon over the last two years. This, it says, has led to employee injuries and even deaths. Under the Ministry of Labour’s “Guideline for Business Entities to Handle Employee Turnout and Salary During Natural Disasters,” there is a provision that staff need not report for work during natural disasters. However, the union says these guidelines are simply administrative rules, and not legally binding.
BE CREATIVE BY STANDING A JAPANESE FIRM has banned its employees from using computers at their personal desks. Iris Ohyama, a multi-product organisation headquartered in Miyagi Prefecture, has stipulated that staff may only use shared computers at one of several standing desk workstations around its premises. Moreover, employees will be expected to only use the computer for a maximum of 45 minutes per session. Iris Ohyama believes this new arrangement will boost concentration levels, improve creativity, and enhance staff wellbeing. Exceptions will be made for employees who have a pressing need to use a computer regularly, as well as for those who have medical conditions. The rules will first be enforced at the company headquarters in Kakuda, before expanding to all of Iris Ohyama’s offices.
“PERMANENT” VICTORY FOR CASUAL STAFF CASUAL EMPLOYEES in Australia will be able to request a permanent position after 12 months’ service, following a watershed ruling from the Fair Work Commission Unions had asked for the right to be available after six months’ service but this was turned down. They had also urged the commission to create a minimum shift of four hours, but this was also rejected. Explaining its decision, the Fair Work Commission said it was important for
modern awards to have a provision permitting casual staff to ask for conversion to permanent full-time or part-time work after 12 months. Organisations will still retain the right to reject the request, if the switch significantly changes the worker’s hours. The landmark ruling was mainly greeted with cheers by the union movement, but only cautiously accepted by employer groups.
N E W S I N T E R N AT I O N A L
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3,000 RETAIL STAFF OUT OF WORK
RETAIL CHAIN Sears Canada is in the process of retrenching some 3,000 employees as it shutters 59 stores nationwide. Despite contractual obligations, the struggling retailer has reportedly omitted making severance payments to affected workers. As this was a court-supervised restructuring, Sears had received protection against creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA), including compensation and benefits of ex-employees. A company spokesperson said “cash constraints” were forcing secured creditors to be prioritised over other debts. He added that terminated employees who believed they had a case would have to submit their claims through the CCAA process. As of May 30, Sears Canada employed approximately 17,000 people, including 10,500 part-timers.
10,000 STRIKE AT VOLKSWAGEN OVER 10,000 workers at Volkswagen Slovakia held a six-day strike in May, returning to work only after their management offered a 14.1% wage increase. The union said it was satisfied with the final amount, although it was still short of the initial demand of 16%. Volkswagen spokesperson Lucia Kovarovic Makayova told AFP that the agreed pay rise would be made in three instalments, and completed by November, 2018. As part of the deal, workers will also be given a one-off bonus of €500 (S$785) and an extra day of annual leave. The strike was the plant’s first since it opened in 1992.
DATA PROTECTION FOR WORKERS THE EUROPEAN UNION has issued new guidelines warning employers not to view social media profiles of job applicants without first issuing a disclaimer. The new rules apply to all social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Employers are also banned from collecting data of employees based on their social media posts as part of the screening process, unless “necessary and relevant”. The guidelines form part of a detailed document explaining new data protection laws that will apply to hirers across 28 European Union nations from May next year. The regulations were updated with the aim of protecting individual privacy rights. Errant employers risk being fined up to 4% of their annual global sales.
CONTROVERSIAL CANDIDATE SCREENING SPANISH AIRLINE Iberia has been fined
€25,000 (S$39,500) for having female job applicants undergo pregnancy tests as part of its hiring process. Following the fine, the airline said it would cease the controversial practice immediately. An airline spokesperson clarified tests were “only” conducted to ensure applicants were not placed in high-risk roles that could potentially compromise the “wellbeing of the baby and future mother”.
Iberia, formed in a £5 billion (S$7.85 billion) alliance with British Airways in 2010, denied that it rejected applicants if they were pregnant, adding that it employed five expectant mothers last year. “Iberia never ceased to hire a woman because she was pregnant if she met the requirements for the position,” Iberia said. Spanish law does not require female workers to notify employers of pregnancies, and employees cannot be fired or penalised on those grounds.
HIRING GOES VIRTUAL UK CAR MANUFACTURER Jaguar Land Rover
is taking its recruitment down a new road. The company has announced a unique collaboration with Grammy Award-winning band Gorillaz, in which it will put thousands of job candidates through a code-breaking challenge hosted on the band’s new “mixedreality” mobile app. The fully immersive app is a unique blend of real world images, augmented reality, virtual reality, and 360° environments. Jaguar hopes that by leveraging an
unconventional tool like the Gorillaz App, it will be able to meet its pipeline requirement of some 5,000 electronics and software engineers for its expanding global business this year alone. Job seekers are required to crack a series of codes in an alternate reality game format developed to test their persistence, lateral thinking, and problem-solving skills. The best performers will then be fasttracked through the recruitment process and hired full-time.
TECH GIANT DOWNSIZES MICROSOFT HAS STARTED the process of laying off “thousands” of workers as part
of a global restructuring effort. “Today, we are taking steps to notify some employees that their jobs are under consideration or that their positions will be eliminated,” a company spokesperson told media in early July. “Like all companies, we evaluate our business on a regular basis. This can result in increased investment in some places and, from time-to-time, redeployment in others.” CNBC reported that three-quarters of the job cuts were expected to occur outside the US, mostly affecting Microsoft’s worldwide commercial business, and its sales and marketing divisions. Sources with knowledge of the matter said the company was reorganising those teams so as to ramp up sales efforts on its cloud services, rather than individual software solutions where the focus currently lies.
LEADERS ON LEADERSHIP
AS A START-UP, WHAT CHALLENGES DO YOU FACE IN TALENT ATTRACTION AND RETENTION?
VINCENT WONG Country Head, ShopBack Singapore
WE’RE ALWAYS on the lookout for people who can hit the ground running, but it’s crucial that we know that they’re headed in the right direction. As a start-up, we don’t have the luxury of widespread name-recognition, so we must make that extra effort to sell our vision effectively, ensuring that our employees’ objectives are always in line with those of the company. Attracting talent is like trying to attract your most loyal, supportive customers. You want someone who is ready to buy into your vision. They must have the aspiration to pave a way for the company to move upwards and outwards, shaping the corporate culture along the way. Moreover, during this process, our leaders and top executives act as the face of our vision. They are also on a constant search to find the
right people who will embrace this opportunity to leave a permanent footprint behind. Furthermore, at the end of the day, if we can’t retain our employees, the entire recruitment process will be rendered futile. Hence, we move beyond just tangible assets and focus on emotional currency too – we give our employees the opportunity to engage. Once we’ve attracted the right people, it’s our responsibility to reciprocate this ambition by being in tune with our company’s vision. We want our employees to make an impact, but also see the subsequent changes. Thus, we have implemented tools to help bridge the team’s performance and vision together, encouraging them to stay ambitious, even if it means exploring uncharted waters. This system also ensures transparency. Our employees have clear objectives to work towards, and are also aware of the impact various divisions have on one another. That way, we’re constantly working alongside our co-workers to reap tangible outcomes. Another challenge we face is managing and improving the tenacity of our people. It can be challenging for anyone to maintain that sense of drive, so we always celebrate accomplishments.
Chief Operating Officer, Ohmyhome
WHEN GOOGLE offered Sheryl Sandberg her first role as a general manger at the startup, not only was the package offered lower than the other offers she received, there were also no employees there for her to manage. A general manager with no employees to manage? That seems like both a ludicrous short-term investment from the company, and a strange decision from Sandberg when it came to how best to use her talents. So what made her join Google? People who choose to join a start-up instead of a big organisation have an entrepreneurial spirit in them. Instead of heading for a job with a safety net, they are looking to work for something exciting. They are striving towards a bigger goal that they resonate with, something bigger than just the monthly wage. Fast-forward a few years
later, and we all know Sheryl Sandberg made the right decision to join Google. She soon became vice president of global online sales and operations, and today, she is one of the most iconic women in the technology world. To attract the right talent, we sell them our passion, drive and dreams. Cultural fit and a good character are most important to us – most of everything else can be learned on the job after the recruit has signed on. People who don’t believe in the company goals should not join us and for those who do, they stay and fight the battles together as a team. At Ohmyhome, we operate in a lattice-like structure where information flow is transparent, and the culture is one that is collaborative and team-spirited. There is no corporate ladder where development and status create a dreadful one-way climb from the bottom up. Every individual is fully aware of the huge responsibilities that their job role encompasses and are encouraged to voice their opinions and ideas. My team has no qualms telling me and the CEO to work faster, stay late, come back on public holidays, and they even impose “fines” for missing deadlines. All that is possible because we share a common goal in producing excellent work.
F E AT U R E
L E A D E R S TA L K H R
It’s not the usual recipe, but for HARI V. KRISHNAN, CEO of the PropertyGuru Group, it is failure that truly breeds success. He explains the unique culture behind Southeast Asia’s market-leading online property portal
ari Krishnan, the head honcho of PropertyGuru Group, is not one to back down from a challenge. No matter the potential outcome, he relishes the act of getting his hands dirty and being in the thick of the action. After all, this is an individual who has been “super grateful” for having experienced failures, and one who firmly believes in letting employees themselves experience “sinking” in the corporate world. However, Krishnan is anything but a reckless leader. A deep-rooted sense of adventure and an indomitable spirit have been the catalysts behind his rise as one of Asia-Pacific’s mostrespected business leaders. Having obtained his Bachelor and Master’s in telecommunications engineering, Krishnan began his career in Silicon Valley in the late 90s. He soared the highs of the dot-com boom and also rode out the subsequent dot-com bust. “I’m actually very grateful for having done that because it taught me how high and low things can go in this industry from fairly early on in my life,” says Krishnan. After five years in Silicon Valley, he pursued his MBA through Insead business school in France, and also spent some time studying at its Singapore campus. That was where he witnessed first-hand the abundant business opportunities that were springing up in Southeast Asia, India and China, and he itched to be part of it. After completing the MBA, Krishnan moved back to his native India to join Yahoo in a senior business development role. Following a stint as Vice President and Country Head of India for Fox Interactive Media, he became the first Asia-based employee of LinkedIn in 2009. “I was technically the first person on the ground,” says Krishnan. He was LinkedIn’s Country Manager for India for three years before moving to Singapore to run its Asia-Pacific regional business for another three-and-a-half years. “Personally, what I really enjoy is building organisations
BY SHAM MAJID
and cultures,” he says. “That’s what I’ve been doing in all the companies that I’ve been a part of.” In January 2016, Krishnan was appointed as President and Chief Business Officer of PropertyGuru Group, before subsequently assuming his current role as CEO.
You’ve spent your entire career in technology. What made you decide to move to PropertyGuru Group in January 2016?
When technology is used to help a genuine pain point, that’s when it’s the most fun. Over the last dozen years, I’ve been helping offline industries go digital, whether it’s been in music, travel, entertainment, recruitment and business-to-business marketing. In each of these cases, it was an industry that was more comfortable operating offline and I became part of the journey helping them move online and go digital here in Asia. When I looked at property, I saw that it was an industry that was largely offline. I would say that consumers were actually already sitting online. The industry was not moving as fast as it could and that attracted me; I like being part of the heavy-lifting phase because that’s when you learn the most, and I personally enjoy that learning. Having done it for the last dozen years, I also backed my ability to do it well. The final factor was that PropertyGuru has a Southeast Asia focus, and I love that fact.
Describe the transition when you moved into the real estate market. What were some of the initial challenges?
There was nothing unexpected in terms of challenges. We have three customer groups: consumers, property agents, and property developers. Each one has a set of expectations when it comes to digital platforms and our role in the ecosystem.
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When I looked at agents, developers and the supply-side of the equation, they clearly understood that they needed to be digital and they’re now trying to understand how to best exploit it. As similar to the other industries I was operating in, the “how” is the mystery. They have beliefs that they need to be operating on search engines, social media and perhaps also participating with us. But even then, we’ve been having many discussions to understand what the right solutions for them will be. We’ve been asking them, “What are your pain points?”
If you’re a developer or a design-led luxury developer, how you work with a platform like PropertyGuru should be different. It’s the same thing with a consumer; if you’re a first-time buyer, renter, empty nester, or an investor, we have different customer groups. Each of them has different expectations and should have different experiences on our platform.
How do you align your company’s vision and mission to the different markets in Asia?
A good vision statement is aspirational; it’s like the “North Star” for the company. It’s
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Always trust your gut!
Dishonesty and disrespect
WHAT’S THE BEST DECISION YOU EVER MADE?
meant to inspire, and not something you’ll be able to achieve anytime soon. In our case, our vision statement is to be the trusted advisor to every person seeking property. This applies in any market, and not just in Southeast Asia. The mission is to help people make confident property decisions through relevant content, actionable insights, and world-class service. But making a confident property decision is tough. What’s needed is trust. There’s a general sense of distrust because of the quantum of money involved, along with the emotion as well. In these situations, the bar is very high when a person wants to extend that trust to you. So, our vision and mission statements are agnostic of culture. This is regardless of whether we’re dealing with our customers in Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, or Malaysia. It’s tough in all of these markets but the reason why it’s tough is because it’s different. So that’s where you apply the vision.
MY INSPIRATION IS: People who
To consistently put my family ahead of work
How is your organisation adapting to the cooling property market in Asia?
MY BIGGEST WEAKNESS IS:
WHAT’S ONE THING PEOPLE DO NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU?
I think this is the perfect time for a digital company. That is why I love being here. We define ourselves as a high-growth consumer internet company. In a market condition when there’s confusion or cooling measures, that’s when a digital platform becomes most useful. If times are great and bullish; if there’s lots of money to be spent, and if lots of discounts are offered, people spend less time researching and they will typically operate in a different mode. But in a market that is a little ambiguous, it gets a little bit scarier and tougher to make that confident decision. In that scenario, it’s the perfect time for us. I love these kinds of markets because it’s the perfect time for PropertyGuru to build.
smile all the time
A bias toward positive thinking IN FIVE YEARS’ TIME, I’D LIKE TO BE: Be happy and healthy
I listened to the Eagles song “Hotel California” every morning at breakfast during my four years of university FAVOURITE QUOTE:
Sports: tennis, swimming, and now also golf
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” - MAYA ANGELOU
Describe your leadership style
A few years ago, someone asked me this question and until then I had not articulated it. I start with talent and try to hire the very best people. I then coach and guide them in terms of what I believe are the expectations of the role and company, and I make sure they understand the vision and mission. Then, I get out of the way.
“You cannot enjoy success unless you have failed, and you cannot really understand the dangers unless the environment allows you a slight chance to fail”
I think this is a very important step. I benefitted from this when I was younger during my career; I had leaders who allowed me to sink or swim. If you’re developing talent, you have to let them experience “sinking”. You cannot enjoy success unless you have failed, and you cannot really understand the dangers unless the environment allows you a slight chance to fail. I don’t use the language “fail fast”. We focus a lot on “learning fast” instead. It’s quite hard sometimes to pause after a successful outcome to emphasise the learning aspect. You’re often so busy celebrating that you’re not actually focusing on the learning. The culture we’re building in this company is to very much focus on that learning. Whether you’re successful or not in a particular project, we take the time to pause and learn. That is central to my leadership style.
How would your employees describe you?
I think they describe me as someone who is approachable and confident; someone who enjoys work and life, and hopefully someone who is decisive. They know that I like making decisions quickly. There’s an emphasis on speed of delivery, which is definitely part of my set-up.
are some key workforce Q What challenges of PropertyGuru Group? It’s not unique to us but accessing good technical talent is always tough. We’re a mid-sized company, and not a startup. Even as a technology company and having been here a decade, accessing good technology talent is challenging. We specifically hire technology talent in Singapore and in Bangkok; those are our two tech hubs for the company. Although there is good talent, it’s a very competitive space. Today’s technology talent is not just hired by technology companies. Everybody from financial services to construction businesses, to automotive manufacturers needs technology talent. The number one thing is making sure we build a good employer brand and value proposition for technologists to build their careers in PropertyGuru.
Historically, some of the markets in which we operate in have not been known for technology talent. So, a lot of talent is actually coming from other markets. Very often, we have to hire people from other countries to come into our markets. This is changing rapidly and maybe a decade from today, the supply situation will improve. It will still be challenging but it won’t be a supply issue. Today, in markets such as Singapore, we have a fundamental supply problem.
What do you think is the biggest disruptor in the property market?
I think the biggest disruptor is consumer expectations. Our consumers, whether they are property sellers or seekers, are the same people using Netflix for entertainment, Amazon for shopping, and Grab to get a taxi. That’s how their expectations are being set. They’re going to bring these AUGUST 2017
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European or Israeli, they all have this learning culture. There must be a focus on creating an environment to absorb, collect, and process that learning and improving as a company as a result of past activities.
How does PropertyGuru Group stay ahead of its competitors?
We focus on our customers, and we have a customer-centric approach to our thinking. All our three customer groups are important. We’re trying to make them successful and we’re focused on their pain points. For instance, I also currently run our product organisation inside the company. The way we define our product-managementcapability is that we’re in the business of fixing problems, not building products. If a customer has a specific problem, we need to find a solution – that’s the job description. When we’re looking to solve problems, we will use innovative technology when possible.
expectations to the property space and the property sector needs to get ready for them. We’ve been investing furiously in this. Data science is something we invested in about 15 months ago and we’re getting ready very soon for a major machinelearning based solution. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a developer, property agent or property portal; anyone in this space now needs to deal with consumer expectations.
You’ve mentioned before that you’re a “digital native”. How have you been driving digitalisation efforts within your organisation?
There are three specific things. The first is a focus on focus; doing fewer things and doing them well. Technology and
digital organisations in general focus on the delivery of high-quality at high speed. The only way to do that is by doing fewer things. But ruthless prioritisation is hard and that is something I’ve benefitted from learning and developing that skill in myself. I’m definitely trying to bring that to our company. The second is a concentration on automation. Within the structures and processes of a company, how good are we at automating everything? If you talk about speed and the reliability of the delivering something, doing that every time should work the same way. You can only do that if you have automation. The third is a focus on a learning culture. Any high-quality digital company, whether it’s Southeast Asian, American,
What’s your biggest regret?
What’s your top tip for leaders?
I’m not the kind of person who regrets. When I have a negative experience, I let myself experience it fully. I let myself feel it, so that I can learn from it. Now that I’m a father, I’ve been teaching my kids that since they’re going to be learning throughout their entire lives, they’re going to have to experience a little bit of failure before they know what success feels like. If you have failed, two things will happen: you will learn and you will tell yourself you don’t want to feel that way ever again. I’m super grateful for having actually experienced failures consistently throughout my life, because it has shaped me. The person talking to you today is a result of his failures as much as his successes.
No question – it is to focus on talent. Leaders sometimes focus on revenue, or customers, and more often than not, they focus on dollars and cents. You have got to focus on your people, your team, and employees. I firmly believe that if you get the best people, you win. It’s as simple as that. firstname.lastname@example.org
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F E AT U R E
Job hopping – when workers flit between jobs, staying only a short time in each role – is on the rise in Asia-Pacific. But the practice is not the red flag that it once was for recruiters – which means the onus is on HR to prevent their best staff from seeking out greener pastures BY SHAM MAJID
t’s a topic that is regularly discussed in professional forums and on networking sites such as LinkedIn. And it’s something that holds supreme relevance in today’s hyper-changing and complex world of work. Job hopping, job shopping, or whatever moniker it has been ascribed, is now firmly in the HR spotlight in Asia. With the millenial generation in particular happy to switch full-time roles regularly and often, the job-hoppers of today are no longer considered outliers. They now represent a significant structural change to the workforce in Asia-Pacific – and HR will not just need to accept this changed state of affairs, but work to take advantage of it.
F E AT U R E
A softening stance This is happening. Once deeply frowned upon by organisations, job hopping is no longer deemed as “career kamikaze” for individual employees. With the working world now defined by transferable skillsets across different industries, and the often intense desire for employees to experience new cultures and working environments, job hopping is increasingly being viewed in a less myopic and judgmental light. The advent of the “gig economy”, a buzzword for short-term projects, freelance and casual work, has also pushed HR disappointment at job hoppers to the backburner. Employees will often work on completing an assignment before moving on to the next available one, often with a completely new organisation. While certain markets and organisations still cast a somewhat negative eye on job hopping, the realities of today’s global outlook means that proportion is decreasing all the time.
Quality, not longevity Benjamin Roberts, Global Talent Acquisition and Mobility Leader of Publicis Communications, believes job hopping is only going to rise over the coming few years. More importantly, he says companies will have to get used to it. “A lot of people have skills that are very transferrable, and companies want the best talent,” says Roberts.
“As the world transforms digitally, we are all hiring from different places, and not from the usual competitors like the old days.” In such a fast-moving environment, the question for talent acquisition heads becomes: do they hire the sharpest tool in the box who freely seeks greener pastures every year or two, or do they go after the candidate who, while not the most-skilled, has longer staying power? Freddy Lee, Southeast Asia Managing Director of Jardine Technology Holdings, says his organisation is mindful not to miss out on exceptional candidates by automatically eliminating supposed job-hoppers from the equation. “We believe that these candidates may well be looking for opportunities to accelerate their growth and advancement, or simply
seeking better working conditions and environments. If candidates possess the right attitude, skills and potential, we seek to create the conditions for them to thrive and achieve,” he says. Kenny Jin, Head of Talent Acquisition and HR Business Partner at REAPRA, a Southeast-Asian focused business capital provider, concurs. “Our focus is on getting the best possible person on board,” he says. “Things like longevity can be overlooked in favour of aspects like culture fit, capability, and mindset.” Timing is also a key motivating factor. David Cherry, Head of Asia-Pacific Talent Acquisition at FireEye, an intelligence-led security company, has hired many job hoppers across different industries
JOB HOPPING WITHIN HR? ALTHOUGH HR PROFESSIONALS find job hopping a major nuisance to their staffing plans, even they can be guilty of jumping ship. “The HR profession is not immune to job hopping,” says Finian Toh, Associate Director – HR Practice, of recruitment firm Kerry Consulting. Toh attributes this occurrence to three major factors. “Firstly, HR professionals can see the writing when it is on the wall. If the company is financially unstable, HR is one of the few departments which can detect this early on. Hence, many would choose to leave for job-stability reasons,” he says. Another reason for a faster-than-expected departure could be due to changes in job scope once the candidate has been appointed to the role. “For example, one of our candidates accepted an offer to work as a learning and development professional but ended up doing administrative work which was not related to training,” says Toh. Thirdly, unethical company practices can also result in a significant turnover of HR professionals.
FEELING THE PULSE OF ASIA-PACIFIC
HRM Magazine canvassed the views of senior HR professionals around AsiaPacific to gauge whether job-hopping is rife in their respective markets. Here’s their take on the situation:
“I won’t say there is a culture of job hopping, because there isn’t. However, we do see a trend of people changing jobs faster due to reasons such as the economic cycle and changes in perception of new-generation employees.” – NORMAN NICHOLAS ABDULLAH, HEAD OF TALENT ACQUISITION AND MANPOWER PLANNING, RHB BANKING GROUP
“The country has seen an increasing trend of frequent job changes but it is difficult to generalise. There are companies in the same industry which have witnessed an attrition rate of 10%, but we have also seen companies with a rate as high as 40%.” – NARENDRA SINGH CHANDEL, REGIONAL HEAD - TALENT ACQUISITION, NORTH INDIA, TATA CONSULTANCY SERVICES
“THERE IS NOT NECESSARILY A CULTURE OF JOBHOPPING IN CHINA, BUT WITH THE RAPID GROWTH OVER THE LAST 20 YEARS, WE SEE MANY CANDIDATES WHO HAVE ENJOYED A BOOM MARKET THAT BROUGHT LARGE WAGE AND TITLE INFLATIONS WITH JOB MOVEMENTS. IN THE CURRENT CLIMATE HOWEVER, THIS IS SOMETHING THAT IS ON THE RELATIVE DECLINE.” – ALEX MARTIN, MANAGER, COMMERCE FINANCE - SHANGHAI, ROBERT WALTERS CHINA
A shift in accountability Rather than pointing accusatory fingers at employees who jump ship, the onus is now on HR to understand their staff pain points. They will need to rethink their talent management practices in light of
“I don’t believe there’s a jobhopping culture and apart from a few exceptions, I think job hopping can be easier tagged to generations, rather than countries.”
– DAVID CHERRY, HEAD OF TALENT ACQUISITION ASIAPACIFIC , FIRE EYE
today’s skills-driven and agile era. It is imperative for organisations to understand the aspirations of their employees – be they professional or personal – and to then craft purpose-driven, meaningful, and flexible strategies that will spur staff to produce their best work and keep them engaged, hopefully for many more years to come. Narendra Singh Chandel, Regional Head - Talent Acquisition, North India, at Tata Consultancy Services, says the global spate of job changes is a direct correlation of organisations’ failure to retain their talent. “We are seeing an increasing trend which, in a way, is the collective failure of both employers and HR professionals to carve out the right retention strategies,” he says. Nikhil Shahane, HR Director India at Technip, a global firm overseeing oil and gas projects, believes creating opportunities must form the bedrock of an organisation’s ability to retain its employees. “The possibility of an individual to stay with the same organisation for a sustained period of time depends on their career progression so far, and on what they aspire to achieve,” he says. As organisations around the globe battle to stay relevant and, ultimately, profitable in today’s disruptive, ultra-competitive business world, HR heads need to channel their energies towards equipping their employees with skills to themselves thrive in the complex landscape. To blame departing employees for the
The best in talent management DO YOU KNOW an HR team or leader that is navigating this new world of job-hopping workers particularly well? They could soon be sharing the stage with the best and brightest strategic talent in Singapore. Nominations are now open for the 2018 HRM Awards. Some 20 categories will be presented at the gala event on March 2, including the Best Talent Management Practices award for both SMEs and larger organisations. For more details, see www. hrmawards.com
organisation’s failure resonates with the saying, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”. “I believe job hopping is sometimes unfairly and overly stigmatised,” says Jin. “It is the company’s responsibility to retain their top talent. And if they can’t keep their employees happy, then someone else will. “People will always gravitate to the best opportunity for themselves.” firstname.lastname@example.org
“EMPLOYEES DO NOT MERELY TAKE UP A JOB AT A COMPANY, BUT JOIN ALMOST AS IF IT WERE A FAMILY. THERE IS A SOCIAL CONTRACT THAT THE COMPANY WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU AS LONG AS YOU ARE A LOYAL AND DEDICATED EMPLOYEE. FOR THIS REASON, JOB HOPPING IS A SIGN OF DISLOYALTY AND A CHARACTER FLAW.” – STEPHANE MICHAUD, SENIOR DIRECTOR – CONSULTING, HUMAN LINK ASIA
“Taiwan is a relatively conservative hiring market and therefore, companies are not overly enthusiastic about candidates who do not have much of a track record of commitment to a company.” – JOHN WINTER, COUNTRY MANAGER, ROBERT WALTERS TAIWAN
“There is a job-hopping culture here. Companies do not necessarily approve of it, but at times, they have no choice but to accept the trend. Hiring managers are now more flexible when they see candidates who have been changing jobs every two years.” – TIFFANY WONG, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, HR AND TRANSACTIONAL SERVICES, ROBERT WALTERS HONG KONG
THESE VIEWS ARE PERSONAL AND DO NOT REFLECT ANY COMPANY POLICY AND PRACTICES
and geographies over the course of his career. “It has always come down to the role being hired for at the time,” he says. “For example, it might a ‘hard-to-fill’ position where the skill set is very niche. “More often though, it would be when hiring for less experienced or more junior positions where the risk is lower.” Increasingly, an employee’s frequency of job-hopping and the duration of their stay may not be a direct indication of that individual’s loyalty. Organisations are now choosing to focus on the achievements and contributions of candidates, using these factors alone as the barometer of their capabilities. Length of tenure, it seems, is becoming much less important as a metric. Norman Nicholas Abdullah, Head of Talent Acquisition and Manpower Planning at RHB Banking Group in Malaysia, agrees. He says it makes more sense to hire a candidate who has made an impact elsewhere within six months of them joining that firm than to favour an individual who had been in a job for six years, but with nothing much to show for that service.
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TOP REASONS FOR LEAVING
HEADING FOR THE EXIT DOOR
Despite the tight labour market, employees in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong are looking for an escape route from their jobs over the coming months. HRM Magazine uncovers some of the pain points fuelling the desire of staff to depart from their organisations and zooms in on insights from the 2017 Randstad Employer Brand Research report
Top two factors for employees in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong wanting to quit their roles are:
Poor salary and benefits
Lack of career progression
Third primary factor fuelling the desire for staff in Singapore and Malaysia to leave is:
PAIN POINTS Unique issues potentially hastening the employee exodus include:
NOT LIKING IMMEDIATE COLLEAGUES
INCONVENIENT WORKPLACE LOCATION
10.22% 12.68% 8.93% 8.43% 6.76% 17.11%
Employees aged between 25-44 in Singapore and Malaysia are more dissatisfied with daily tasks than their counterparts aged 45 and above. Dissatisfaction has been cited as another factor for potential departures
SOURCE: 2017 RANDSTAD EMPLOYER BRAND RESEARCH
Dissatisfied AUGUST 2017
S P O N S O R E D F E AT U R E
SPARKING GROWTH FOR THE HR PROFESSION HR in Singapore is recognised as a key enabler for human capital development, and now, practitioners have the chance to have their skills and knowledge formally certified 24
g Xue Na is one of 43,000 HR professionals across Singapore. What sets her apart from the majority of her peers is that she is one of the first few HR professionals conferred with Singapore’s very own HR certification. The HR Business Partner with DHL’s Customer Solutions and Innovation unit in Asia-Pacific was part of the pilot run of the National HR Certification programme, in October and November last year. A total of 114 candidates selected from a range of enterprises, road tested the assessment processes. Echoing the sentiments of many of the 88 who achieved one of the first two levels of certification, Ng shared that she had “long seen the need for a local HR industry framework,” and “was always hoping to undertake a professional certification that was easily accessible and recognised across Singapore”. Ng is now recognised as an Institute for HR Professionals Certified Professional (IHRP-CP), and plans to apply for higher certification levels as her career continues to progress.
Key to unlocking Singapore’s potential Singapore’s Institute for HR Professionals (IHRP) is now urging many more to join her. IHRP is the newly-formed national HR professional body established to strengthen and raise the standards of excellence of the HR industry in Singapore. It was jointly set up by the tripartite partners: the Ministry of Manpower, the National Trades Union Congress, and the Singapore National Employers Federation. The tripartite partners duly recognise HR professionals and the HR ecosystem as vital enablers for Singapore’s future development. Second Minister for Manpower, Josephine Teo emphasised this when she launched the IHRP Certification, along with the country’s HR Industry Manpower Plan on July 10, saying she hoped it would lead HR to be the “key” that effectively “unlocks the potential of our people and businesses to adapt and transform”. Minister Teo added that the certification brings Singapore into a very small group of countries that are actively building their HR profession (and HR industry) through recognising and championing those unique skills. “It is essentially a framework that tells us what good HR is about,” Minister Teo says. “That means the competencies, mindsets, and behaviours that HR professionals must have to deliver positive impact for their organisations and the people they employ.”
IT IS A CREDIBLE ENDORSEMENT OF MY SKILLSETS, THE ENTIRE CERTIFICATION PROCESS IS RIGOROUS AND PROFESSIONALLY CONDUCTED.”
– JUDY TAN,
DIRECTOR OF HR AT NANYANG POLYTECHNIC
Getting ahead in HR The national-level value of a more professional HR industry was talked about throughout the HR community over the two-year development of the certification framework. There are also some significant advantages for the individual HR professionals who apply and attain the IHRP Certification. Importantly, there is the value of knowing where they stand against their peers, and the specific learning or development that will help to bridge any gaps. “Having gone through it, at least I know how I fare against the national standards,” says Judy Tan, Director of HR at Nanyang Polytechnic. She succeeded in being recognised as an IHRP Senior Professional (IHRP-SP) during the pilot programme and felt that the certification “is a credible endorsement of my skillsets”. Further, she says the certification process “is rigorous and professionally conducted”. Nelly Liukartano, Senior Manager for Industrial Relations and Employee Engagement with SMRT, added that the certification will also help to build HR’s standing within the business community and across each individual organisation. Also part of that first successful cohort, she notes that many still view HR as a transactional or administrative function and sees the certification as “an opportunity to create awareness for the HR profession”.
SINGAPORE’S MASTER PROFESSIONAL PIONEERS THE SINGAPORE IHRP CERTIFICATION offers three levels of recognition. While the IHRP Certified Professional (IHRP-CP) and the Senior Professional (IHRP-SP) certification levels are open to all applicants, the pinnacle level of IHRP Master Professional (IHRP-MP) is still in the pilot stage of development. IHRP-MP candidates are nominated by tripartite partners and current IHRP Master Professionals. A typical profile is a Chief HR Officer who is well-regarded by the HR community and has actively contributed back to the HR industry. Only three such leaders have been inducted as part of the pioneer IHRP-MP group. They are:
Global Vice President of HR in the Software Business of Schneider Electric
Group Chief HR Officer of Singtel
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“We need to show how each and every HR professional can value-add by being a strategic business partner to their organisations.” she says. “For me personally, the certification has given me more confidence in recommending and formulating HR strategies that can impact the future of SMRT.” Liukartano says she is extremely proud to have successfully achieved the IHRP-CP certification level. She has ambitions to achieve subsequent levels of certification later in her career. Employers also stand to gain from the certification framework, according to Selena Huynh, Deputy CEO of the IHRP. She believes that the certification can uplift the HR capabilities within the organisation by equipping the HR team with knowledge and competencies to drive business success. “The certification means there will be a single, national benchmark for HR skills and competencies,” she says. Employers will therefore be able to know and trust that IHRP Certified HR Professionals have undergone a rigorous assessment process to attest that
REGISTRATIONS ARE NOW OPEN for the first two levels of the IHRP Certification. For full details, and to sign up, head to the Institute for HR Professionals’ website at http://www.ihrp.sg/ they have “future-ready HR knowledge and experiences to support business growth”.
Tough, but fair The certification is not an automatic entitlement for anyone who has simply been in a qualifying role for a few years. Rather, the assessment process is rigorous in order to have a certification that deserves its recognition across the HR profession in Singapore. The first two levels are now open for registration, which includes a two-stage holistic assessment process that looks at the applicant’s ability to demonstrate application of the requisite competencies. They are also
tested on their knowledge of relevant labour and employment legislation in Singapore and the statutory requirements that all employers must provide their staff. Liukartano says the certification assessment process was “not tedious”. Rather, she says there was a sense of satisfaction with collating all of her past achievements, and that has helped to motivate her to go “beyond my comfort zone” as an HR professional. The assessment was “not difficult” but did put her HR skills and experiences to the test, she adds. Ng, meanwhile, says the assessment questions tested for a balance of legislationbased knowledge and real-life applications in both SME and multinational settings. “Having been in a regional role for quite a while, I found it beneficial to have a refresher on the basic regulations and consideration factors when handling HR issues in different contexts,” she said. All three participants recommended the experience for their HR counterparts across Singapore. “I strongly encourage all HR practitioners to go for the IHRP certification,” Tan says.
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Performance Management Innovation Congress 2017 is exclusively designed for HR leaders and frontline managers to discuss the latest performance management trends and strategies that effectively empower their workforce and support achieving business goals.
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F E AT U R E
JOANNA TEO Regional HR Operations
JAN ANNE SCHELLING Vice President (VP) HR Asia and Regional VP HR DSM Nutritional Products Asia-Pacific
FOR ALL WALKS OF LIFE Dutch life sciences company DSMâ€™s commitment to innovation has seen the organisation take a progressive position on diversity and inclusion, well-ahead of its peers B Y K E LV I N O N G
CASSANDRA CHEW HR Business Partner, Staff and Services
JENNIFER TAN HR Business Partner, Animal Health Nutrition
LEE SUE YEE HR Shared Services Manager, Asia-Pacific
NEO PIN QI Total Rewards Specialist
D F E AT U R E
utch company DSM’s quiet profile belies its ubiquity in everyday lives. The company, which brands itself as a global “science-based” entity, is, in plainer terms, a supplier of raw materials to the world’s largest manufacturers. Its products are used in food and dietary supplements, medical devices, automobiles, electronics, clothing, and a host of more everyday goods. Consumers do interact with the brand daily, but most would be unaware that its materials, from liquid chemicals to resins and adhesives, are present in such a wide range of products. Despite being a century-old establishment, the nature of its value chain business means it is rarely public-facing and lacks visibility in consumer areas. Jan Anne Schelling, Vice President of HR, acknowledges there is room to grow in the area of public recognition, but DSM Asia’s brand as an employer is something that has been painstakingly cultivated over many years. A transformative company This is worlds apart from where it all started. While DSM’s history is foreign to many, the company’s colourful transformation journey provides a strong insight into its present practices, says Schelling. The acronym DSM originally stood for “Dutch State Mines”, a name that dates back to 1902 when it was founded by the Dutch government as a coal mining company. In the last century, the business has transformed several times. It first diversified its portfolio outside of mining with the opening of a Coca Cola plant in 1919. After World War II, this diversification into bulk chemicals and petrochemicals accelerated so that when the last mine closed in 1973 DSM was fully reborn as a chemical company. In the 1990s, the company again changed course, this time selling almost all of its commodity chemicals activities as part of a privatisation deal. It then evolved to become the global manufacturing value chain supplier that it is today. The organisation was nimble long before agility became a buzz word because it has always understood the importance of change
in staying relevant, says Schelling. The secret to DSM’s business agility, he reveals, lies in its two main guiding principles of innovation and sustainability. “One of the things that stands out is we are a very transformative company,” he says. “Overtime, we have continuously changed and improved our portfolio, divested in more chemical-based solutions to more sustainable bio-technology products and services.”
Making diversity a priority This focus on innovation, sustainability, and adaptability has continued into this century, providing the conditions necessary for DSM to remain a market leader. The progressive stance has also allowed its HR policies to be ahead of the times, and one area where HR’s advancement has been apparent is in diversity and inclusion. While these kinds of workforce policies are now just making their way to the top of most HR teams’ agenda, this focus is already eight years in the making at DSM, Schelling notes. “Many companies call it ‘diversity and
AT A GLANCE
HR Team (Asia-Pacific) OVER
Workforce size (Asia-Pacific)
Key HR Focus Areas Inclusion and diversity Workforce engagementt Leadership development
inclusion’, but we say ‘inclusion and diversity’ because we start from inclusion and create diversity with that,” he explains. Schelling says inclusion issues first came onto the business’ radar as an HR-driven topic. In 2012, it was incorporated as one of the cornerstones of the One DSM Culture Agenda and then, with much advocacy from the HR team, it was made a specific business objective. The group’s leadership saw how diversity was the key to DSM becoming a truly global entity, and driving greater business growth. While most organisations still view diversity as a solely HR objective, this is no longer the case at DSM, where department leads are already taking charge of each of their teams’ multiplicity. In fact, DSM’s global Inclusion and Diversity Council consists of 12 business leaders, of which only two members are from HR. The Council plays a lead role in driving the inclusion and diversity targets across all DSM businesses. “This has now become a senior management topic,” says Schelling. “In the last few years, I have observed in my role here in HR, that our regional colleagues can grow into more global positions,” he says. “We saw more colleagues moving from Asia to Europe and the US, not just Europe to Asia.”
Incentivising inclusivity Although inclusion ranks high as a priority, Schelling reiterates that it is still HR’s job to implement a framework that continually encourages managers to champion workforce diversity. “Those insights still come from HR and the good thing is our line management has picked that up and are now driving it forward,” he says. Promotion is one incentive employed by HR to encourage line managers to actively build an inclusive culture. Managers are rated and held accountable based on internal inclusion and diversity indicators. All corporate executives are also required to undergo routine unconscious bias training. In the third quarter of 2016, for instance, HR brought together top executives for a day of intensive training and conversations regarding hidden personal bias, based on concepts shared in The Loudest Duck: Moving Beyond Diversity while Embracing Differences to Achieve Success at Work.
ONE DSM CULTURE AGENDA LAUNCHED IN 2012, the ONE DSM Culture Agenda aims to support material supplier DSM’s strategic objectives and equip its staff with the skills to respond to the needs of an everchanging world. The agenda focuses on four themes, and is aimed at supporting employees in:
• How they align with their environment; • Setting and delivering on ambitious targets; • Encouraging active collaboration; and • Fostering an inclusive culture. “This is a prime example of HR and senior leaders working closely together,
As the book title suggests, one of the key concepts revolves around the importance of embracing perspectives different from one’s own. The Chinese, for example, teach their children that “the loudest duck gets shot,” a viewpoint which gets carried into adulthood. On the other hand, many Americans are taught, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” As a result, two distinct ways of conducting business emerge, neither one necessarily being the “right” or better way. But by understanding and respecting others’ stands, individuals can learn how to work more effectively and harmoniously with others. “The concept is important to drive diversity conversations. We aim to actively invite people to speak up and have open dialogues – not just brainstorming, but also in matters of decision-making,” says Schelling. These days, senior management also leads by example. The current composition of DSM’s board is well-balanced in terms of gender, with more than one third of the members women. But the proof is still in the pudding, as Schelling says the best motivation for line managers ultimately boils down to the fact that a wider workforce profile leads to significantly higher productivity. Having said that, Schelling admits that HR is concerned about the possibility of its talent composition sliding back into an overly homogeneous category. To prevent this, it monitors managers closely and conducts quarterly checks on their performance indicators. “We do have tangible goals on diversity, with regards to gender, nationality, and the like. In some countries we even go beyond the
and analysing what is needed for DSM to be agile,” says Jan Anne Schelling, Vice President of HR, DSM Asia. Last year, particular emphasis was placed on the way the four themes and their related behaviours support the implementation of new operating models.
“What drives me most about an inclusive and diverse environment is it gives employees room to pursue their passions.” – JAN ANNE SCHELLING,
VICE PRESIDENT, HR, DSM ASIA
legal compliance where it concerns sexual preferences and disabilities and such,” he says. Schelling is himself the chairman of the Women Inspired Network, a group initiated eight years ago by a few female employees with the aim of inviting men to champion women managers. The group holds two to three get-
togethers each year, where it discusses topics like career advancement, work-life balance, and even personal finance.
More work to be done Being so advanced in its talent management approach has helped to raise HR’s stock within the company. While many organisations still view HR as a support function, Schelling says at DSM, HR is regarded as a business driver. “I’m very much a business leader as much as my colleague who drives profits and losses,” he says. “ By creating a good culture and mindset across the company that talent is important, we’re contributing to the business objectives.” This concerted push for a more dynamic workforce has certainly paid off for the business, not just in terms of sales and revenue, but also employee happiness. Last year’s global employee engagement survey, which has been run annually since 2007, recorded a favourable rating of 71%, up two percentage points from 2015. Perhaps the most important indicator is the reactions to the statement: “I believe DSM has a promising future”. The proportion of employees agreeing with this moved up from 65% in 2015 to 78% last year. This large jump is a clear indication of the belief that employees have in the overall DSM strategy. Still, Schelling acknowledges there is more work to be done on the inclusion front, especially in masculine-dominated cultures like Japan. He says the number of female senior executives in Asia is just shy of 20%, below his team’s aim for 2020 (when 25% of corporate staff are hoped to be female). The representation of non-Dutch employees also increased to 53% globally in 2016, but the company admits that this is still considerably low. It aims to further diversify its executive population and aspires to have at least 60% of executives from underrepresented nationalities by 2020. “The thing that drives me the most about creating an inclusive and diverse environment is it gives employees room to pursue their passions,” says Schelling. “It’s a continuous, quarterly conversation. We are clear that you don’t change mindsets in a quarter and that it takes considerable effort.” email@example.com AUGUST 2017
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E M P LOY M E N T L AW
With the tougher economic climate pushing more organisations towards large-scale retrenchment exercises, there are many legal implications that HR has to be aware of. HRM Magazine speaks with leading employment lawyers about the key issues surrounding termination B Y K E LV I N O N G
n January this year, Singapore infrastructure consultancy firm Surbana Jurong, a subsidiary of state-owned investment management fund Temasek Holdings, axed some 54 employees for “poor performance” without giving any prior warning. With the swift nature of the dismissals, it was soon suggested that the “performance-related” culling may actually have been a front for a more strategic retrenchment exercise. One affected staff member told local media that he was given an ultimatum on the same day of his departure: resign immediately or be fired. He chose the first option and was out the company’s door only 90 minutes later. Disguised dismissals? There was no evidence that the sackings were legally “unfair”, but if indeed true, some industry observers were not surprised by the restructuring. That’s because workforce trimming is a common activity after a merger, with some level of overall skills redundancy typical whenever two entities become one. In the case of Surbana Jurong, it was formed in 2015 following a merger between Surbana International Consultant and Jurong International Holdings. The facts also seemed to point towards a mass retrenchment, although the company’s intentions cannot be proven. But by classifying the job cuts as a performance-related decision, the organisation was able to avoid paying out retrenchment benefits legally required by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM). It says employees who have served the company for at least two years are eligible for retrenchment benefits. The prevailing norm is to pay a retrenchment benefit of between two weeks to one month salary per year of service, depending on the company’s financial position and industry. In unionised companies, where the amount of retrenchment benefit is stated in the collective agreement, the norm is one month’s salary for each year of service. Among the 54 affected staff, a number are union members who had been with the organisation for years. If they had been let go as part of a retrenchment, Surbana Jurong would have been forced to pay out a hefty settlement amount. Laure de Panafieu, Partner, Head of Employment & Incentives – Asia at law firm Linklaters Singapore, notes that although the company was not formally prosecuted by the MOM, it did receive a strong rebuke from the Minister for Manpower, who found the exercise “unacceptable”. The incident also generated a great deal of negative press coverage for the company. “The reputational impact of this type of publicity often significantly outweighs any financial considerations,” says de Panafieu, adding that Surbana Jurong’s story “will no doubt serve as
a useful warning to Singapore employers not to adopt the same doubtful practices in the future”. Surbana Jurong eventually did make an ex-gratia payment to affected employees, after settlement talks with the various labour unions involved. With layoffs aplenty throughout the region in the current economic climate, de Panafieu says HR and employers should ensure retrenchment exercises are executed “responsibly and sensibly”.
Back-up plan This is also crucial in China, where employment regulations are constantly evolving, states Jonathan Isaacs, Head of the China Employment Practice at Baker & McKenzie. Retrenchment can be a tricky issue in China because redundancy, or just a role no longer being viable, is not legal grounds for termination there, says Isaacs. Companies implementing retrenchments need to first see if the action can be justified on any of the statutory termination grounds allowed under Chinese law. While termination by mutual agreement is always the preferred first option, companies still need to find good back-up grounds to unilaterally terminate employees who may refuse to sign mutual termination agreements. “Having such a back-up plan also makes it easier to convince employees to sign the termination agreement, since employees would know that if they do not sign the agreement, they may only get the legally-required minimum amount of severance,” he says. “Whether the company will have good grounds to unilaterally terminate will depend on the nature of the restructuring, and often whether the restructuring can be connected to some external factors beyond the company’s control.” In Hong Kong, presiding officers at the Labour Tribunal are always alert to employers trying to avoid their obligation to pay statutory severance by disguising a redundancy with another reason for termination, says Sarah Berkeley, Partner, Simmons & Simmons. She notes that suspicious cases are routinely probed further. “There is no legal protection against unfair dismissal, but, if an employee is concerned that the ‘real’ reason for a dismissal is redundancy, AUGUST 2017
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they can bring a claim in the Labour Tribunal to recover the unpaid statutory severance monies,” says Berkeley. In the case of an unlawful dismissal, the Labour Tribunal may order: reinstatement or re-engagement of the dismissed employee (subject to the mutual consent of both the employer and employee); or an award of termination payments against the employer. Berkeley says that in the event of a mass layoff, advance planning is key to ensuring a smooth process. HR and employers should check the terms of employees’ contracts to ensure that those being made redundant receive their full entitlements on termination, as well as carry out clear communication of how final payments have been calculated. This will provide comfort for individuals, and let them know they are being treated properly and fairly. Many employers also offer outgoing employees an additional discretionary severance payment, usually conditional upon signing a waiver and release of claims. “This provides a financial cushion for the individual and a clean break for the employer,” says Berkeley. The 2015 case of Tadjudin versus Bank of America, National Association, showed that some organisations are even willing to manipulate performance structures in order to avoid paying bonuses. From 2000 to 2007, Sunny Tadjudin worked as an analyst at Bank of America in Hong Kong. She was employed on a contract that permitted termination on notice, or pay in lieu of notice. She was also eligible for an annual bonus on the condition of her still being employed by the bank at the time of pay-outs. Tadjudin was paid bonuses up until 2006, before she was let go in August 2007, just prior to the pay-out date. A higher court judge concluded that Tadjudin’s employer had deliberately designed a performance improvement plan with the specific end goal of dismissal, so that it could avoid paying out the rightful bonus entitlement. “Although this decision might lead employers to consider whether they would be better off staying silent as to reasons for termination, the main take away is simply that employers should act in good faith,” wrote Eversheds Sutherlands lawyers
“WHETHER THE COMPANY WILL HAVE GOOD GROUNDS TO UNILATERALLY TERMINATE WILL DEPEND ON THE NATURE OF THE RESTRUCTURING, AND OFTEN WHETHER THE RESTRUCTURING CAN BE CONNECTED TO SOME EXTERNAL FACTORS BEYOND THE COMPANY’S CONTROL” – JONATHAN ISAACS,
HEAD OF CHINA EMPLOYMENT PRACTICE, BAKER & MCKENZIE
Jennifer Van Dale and Hannah Swift in the Hong Kong Lawyer journal.
Abrupt closure In Malaysia, another case –that of gymnasium chain True Fitness, has also made headlines recently. The Singaporean-owned chain closed down each of its Malaysia outlets overnight, leaving employees without compensation for their final months of employment. HRM Asia had reached out to the company for clarification on the claims, to which the company confirmed that wages were delayed because of “payroll issues”. But this entire sequence of events raised a few pertinent compliance (and moral) questions for HR and employers, not only in Malaysia, but throughout Asia. When organisations shutter, under what legal circumstances are they obligated to inform employees of the move? Also, in the event that a company has wound up due to insolvency, where do outstanding wages stand in the debt settlement queue? Donovan Cheah, a partner at Malaysian law firm Donovan & Ho Advocates & Solicitors, says that in this instance, because True Fitness employees were not paid wages for several months, they may deem themselves “constructively dismissed”, and could file a complaint of unfair dismissal against the company, even if the doors were still open. With regards to notice of closure, Cheah says “companies are advised to give as early
a warning or as much notice as possible to the affected employees”. Employees subject to the Malaysian Employment Act are entitled to minimum notice or payment in lieu, which is determined by their length of service, he adds. For example, someone who has been employed for less than two years is entitled to receive at least four weeks’ notice (or payment in lieu) in the event the employer intends to cease carrying on business. Some collective agreements may also specifically require employers to give advance notice of retrenchment or closure of business, and a failure to comply may subject the employer to proceedings under the Industrial Relations Act.
Moral obligation For HR professionals anywhere in the region, it is important to note that local labour laws do require employers to provide minimum notice periods. But the real question for the management of True Fitness may be a moral one. That is, even if it could avoid informing staff of the impending cessation, shouldn’t it have a moral obligation to give staff some form of warning? The company appears to have been more than capable of giving staff in Malaysia and Thailand a smoother and more structured exit. While its businesses in both markets had suffered in recent years, the group was still going strong in Singapore and China. Following the closures, CEO Patrick Wee immediately issued a statement to members saying that operations in those countries would not be affected. Because the group has yet to legally wind up its operations, Cheah says it was still legally obligated to pay wages to its employees for the period in which they were employed. It is understood that these payments have since been made in full. Had the business legally folded, employees still would have been relatively high in the queue of liabilities. “In some cases, employees’ claims for unpaid wages would even have priority over a secured creditor – for example, where there is a sale of the employees’ place of employment,” says Cheah. firstname.lastname@example.org
19 - 22 SEPT
Ten years ago, Facebook didn’t exist. Ten years before that, we didn’t have the Web. So who knows what jobs will be born a decade from now? Time
HR and business leaders are being asked to create a digital workplace to become an ‘organisation of the future’. Out of 10,400 respondents to the Deloitte Human Capital trends report, “77% believe automation results in ‘better jobs’. 50% are investing in retraining workers to work side-by-side with machines, and 33% expect people to do ‘more human tasks’ augmented by robotics and AI.” * It is now more crucial than ever to start understanding this new world of work, rather than give in to the stigma and fears surrounding it. There is a pressing need for you as workforce management professionals to develop new capabilities to embrace this hyperconnected world of work, and become change capable. Smart Workforce Summit 2017 will enable you to explore the agile manifesto, the new mindsets required to harnessing change and the pervasive technologies which will be used to transform your business and empower your workforce, today.
“AI, Robotics, and Cognitive Computing Are Changing Businesses Faster Than You Thought. ”
Josh Bersin, Principal & Founder, Bersin by Deloitte
Speakers Confirmed Include: Prof. Dave Ulrich Management Expert & HR Guru
Nandini Jayaram HRBP Lead Google Asia Pacific
Dr. Jaclyn Lee Senior Director, HR and OD Singapore University of Technology and Design
Jonathan O’Byrne Founder & CEO Collective Works
Karina R. Cuello Director L&D, Asia Pacific, JLL Singapore
Philippa Penfold Senior HR Manager Infosys Consulting
Steen Puggard CEO The 4Fingers Group of Companies
Jason Ho Head, Group Human Resources OCBC Bank
*Source- Deloitte | Bersin by Deloitte
HR Practitioner EARLY BIRD Pricing Available Until 11th August 2017 • • • •
Summit Only (19 & 20 Sept 2017): $995 Summit + Masterclass (19-21 Sept 2017): $2,750 Summit+ Site Tours (19,20 & 22 Sept 2017): $1,200 Summit + Masterclass + Site Tours (19-22 Sept 2017): $3,000
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• Masterclass Only (21 Sept 2017): $2,600 • Site Tours (22 Sept 2017): $600 • Masterclass + Site Tours (21 & 22 Sept 2017): $3,000 Please note - only a limited number of places are reserved for masterclass and site tour only attendance. Places will be reserved on a first come first serve basis and subject to approval by the organiser.
Contact email@example.com for more information www.smartworkforcesummit.hrmasia.com
R E A D E R S ’ C H O I C E AWA R D S
Cast your vote
The best HR service providers in Singapore are now campaigning for your vote. Make your opinion count in the HRM Asia Readers’ Choice Awards before the end of August
RM Asia’s Readers’ Choice
Awards are back again for 2017, with more than 110 HR service providers competing across 34 different categories. From serviced apartments to HR technology providers, and from corporate health screeners to compensation consultancies, the full HR eco-system in Singapore is represented, with some of the biggest names sharing the finalist list with upcoming start-ups and established players.
Two-tier judging This year, the Readers’ Choice Awards are judged on two different assessments. The popular vote, conducted via the dedicated polling service at www.hrmreaderschoice. com will count for 70% of each service providers total score. HRM Asia’s judging panel, made up of senior HR professionals from across the Singapore business community, will also consider each of the finalists listed here. Their combined assessment will be worth 30% of the overall tally. Voting is open now but must close after August 31. So get in fast, and make your opinion on the best HR service providers in Singapore count in 2017.
HRM Asia’s Readers’ Choice Award Nominees
HRM Asia offers its thanks and best of wishes to all the nominees in this year’s Readers’ Choice Awards. They are: Align HR Consulting
Oakwood Studios Singapore
Oasia Hotel Downtown
Sands Expo & Convention Centre
Village Hotel – Changi
Grand Park Orchard Hotel
Pan Pacific Suites – Beach Road
Village Hotel – Katong
Asia Pacific Sales & Marketing Academy
Park Hotel Group Clarke Quay
Village Residence – Robertson Quay
People Advantage Pte Ltd
Suntec Singapore Convection & Exhibition Centre
Marketing Institute of Singapore
Raffles Medical Group
Talentvis Singapore Pte Ltd
The Center for Creative Leadership
MHC Asia Group
The Club Residences Capella Singapore
Oakwood Asia-Pacific Ltd
Thomson Online Benefits
Executive Coach International
Oakwood Global Housing Solutions
Far East Hospitality Serviced Residences
Oakwood Premier Tokyo Midtown
RGF HR Agent
WIN A SENTOSA ISLAND STAY-CATION
IT’S NOT JUST the service providers who can win big in the HRM Asia Readers’ Choice Awards. Readers themselves have the chance to win a luxurious staycation on Singapore’s celebrated Sentosa Island. As a special thank-you for helping to make the awards so valued across the HR industry, HRM Asia is giving away a onenight stay for two at W Singapore – Sentosa Cove to one lucky voter. To be in the running, simply log on to the voting platform at http://hrmreaderschoice.com/
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Bringing science to HR While HR practitioners are constantly urged to truly understand their organisation’s business model, STEPHANE MICHAUD, Senior Director of Human Link Asia, makes his case on why they should also tap onto science and research
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ome years ago, when I was employed by a large HR consultancy, I remember energetically preaching about the importance of research, learning and development, and evidence-based approaches to meeting our client needs. At the time, for a variety of reasons – some of which may have been very legitimate – these ideas only achieved modest traction. However, times are changing and I believe that industry and clients’ views are quickly turning around. Increasingly, we are reading the importance of using the best of what science and practice have to offer, and to apply learnings to pressing HR and organisational development issues. To be fair, part of the problem has been the relative inaccessibility of AUGUST 2017
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research to HR practitioners, for three main reasons:
Dissemination of research Barring a few exceptions, HR-relevant research is not disseminated in the popular press, and gets read by perhaps only three or four pairs of eyes who stumble upon them by chance through specialised search engines. It is a crying shame, as lots of groundbreaking research goes unnoticed or spends longer than necessary in obscurity.
Language and format used Most academic papers are written with an academic audience in mind. When I was in graduate school, we had a running joke (which I’m sure is repeated on thousands of campuses around the world) that “the thicker the dissertation, the fastest it gets published”. When reading papers these days, I don’t see much change on this front. A full discussion of academic incentives for publishing studies is beyond the scope of this article. But suffice to say, papers are often inaccessible in their language and thickness, and are therefore not often referred to by the HR community.
Hypotheses tested Finally, the research questions posed by academics seem so far removed from HR practitioners’ real-world concerns that they are perceived to be lacking in practical applications. Of course, there must be a place for fundamental research that eventually leads to practical applications. The same holds true for so-called “pure sciences” where fundamental research outcomes precede applications by decades. However, I do believe business and society as a whole would benefit tremendously from increased collaboration and formal associations with academia. Of course, there are
Scientific HR at Smart Workforce Summit THE NEED FOR HR to take a science-based approach to workforce management will be a key focus point of HRM Asia’s Smart Workforce Summit next month. Featuring a keynote session and exclusive workshop with “the father of modern HR” Dave Ulrich, this four-day learning opportunity
questions around research funding and vested interests, but there are ways to minimise the risks. I strongly believe in “kaizen”the notion of continuous improvement – and more often than not, I will research whatever topic or research question my company or client needs to address using specialised databases, and aim to find the latest meta-analyses available.
“Meta-what”? Meta-analysis is a statistical procedure for combining data from multiple studies. The basic principle behind meta-analyses is that there is a common truth behind all conceptually-similar scientific studies, but which has been measured with a certain error within individual studies. The aim is to use approaches from statistics to pool the results of individual studies and reduce error.
will guide HR professionals through the complexities and interrupters of the emerging workplace. Smart Workforce Summit takes place in Singapore from September 19 to 22 this year.
Meta-analyses have the capacity to compare and contrast results from different studies and identify patterns among their results. A key benefit of this approach is the aggregation of information which leads to a higher statistical power and more robust estimate than would be possible from any individual study. As long as the meta-analysis is well conducted, this helps cut through the noise and answer pressing HR questions, such as: What best predicts leadership potential? Why do standard performance management measures not work? What drivers are consistently linked to employee engagement? It also answers many other questions which pundits have a thousand answers for that are unfortunately often based on idiosyncratic experiences with
About the Author STEPHANE MICHAUD is Senior Director of Human Link Asia, an HR solutions company under Mitsubishi Corporation which specialises in the fields of HR development, consulting for HR management systems, and global HR solutions. He has 20 years of external and internal experience in leading and implementing HR and organisational development programmes for Fortune 500 organisations and the public sector across Asia-Pacific, North America, and Europe.
little systematic research. Once I’ve canvassed the literature (including what the best of business literature has to offer), I still need to “translate” what is often indecipherable and complicated jargon into simpleto- understand and easy-to-use conclusions. This is where the process of “vulgarisation” comes into play. It comprises of half-translation, and half-marketing. My father, who was an educator, used to say that if you can explain the most difficult concept to a five-year-old, you’ve truly mastered the topic. This is an important and tricky step, as the last thing you want to do is interpret beyond the data.
Adding value to the business As the market rightfully becomes more demanding, I believe larger HR consultancies should have a research and development function to constantly remain a step ahead of their clients’ body of knowledge and practice. Clients expect expertise and consultancies beyond those of “best practices”, and the provision of fact-based and market-tested insights and solutions. As an HR practitioner dedicated to evidence-based decisions, I believe that one of the most important tasks on our hands is to convince the business of the importance of drawing upon this immense resource. Being real advocates and evangelists of the “kaizen” approach can yield tremendous value to business.
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ORGANISATIONAL DEVELOPMENT INNOVATION CONGRESS 2017 12-13 SINGAPORE
Leveraging on Organisational Development Initiatives for Efficient Transformation
Organisational Development Innovation Congress 2017, is a two-day conference exclusively designed for HR
leaders and OD specialists to discuss and share insights on how to effectively bring about meaningful and sustainable change in organisations in today’s complex workforce landscape to be fit-for-purpose and future-ready.
Featured Speakers: Pratima Krishnan Head, Talent & Organisational Development DBS Bank
Sureash Kumar Global Director – Talent Management UTAC
Mayur Chaturvedi Regional Associate Director C&B, AP cum HR ASEAN & India Zimmer Pte Ltd
Mansi Agarwal Director Talent Management and Learning – APAC Avon
Joydeep Bose President & Global Head, Human Resources Olam International
Ruchira Chaudhary Head of Organisation Design and Development – APAC Medtronic
Themes to be Discussed Include:
• Cultivating culture that aligns with organisational goals • Transitioning into a data-driven organisation • Best practices and trends in organisational development
Maximise Your Learning Experience:
Attend the post-conference Organisational Development Masterclass, taking place 24-25 October 2017 in Singapore, facilitated by Ramesh Muthusamy Founder of Alvigor Organisational Development. REGISTER NOW to make the most of our Early Bird Rates ending on 11th August: INSTITUTE FOR HUMAN RESOURCE · 2 Day Congress only S$1795 + GST PROFESSIONALS · 2 Day Congress + 2 Day Masterclass only S$3650 + GST
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SENG HUA HNG FOODSTUFF, renowned for its traditional delicacies, is determined not to fall prey to obsolete manpower practices. HRM Magazine finds out more
eng Hua Hng Foodstuff, the producer of the globally-established Camel brand of peanuts, has been flying under the radar ever since it began operations 43 years ago. While its peanut offerings are distributed to more than 50 countries worldwide, the family-owned Singaporean company quietly goes about its business for its global consumer base. Ironically, the organisation’s no-frills and low-key approach – which has been the backbone of its business success – is also its Achilles Heel when it comes to HR. “One of the main challenges is that we’re moving from a traditional SME into an organisation that is trying to be more attractive to candidates and to external parties,” says Jan Goh, the company’s Group HR and Administration Manager. “We’re trying to revamp ourselves to not just be a good provider of snacks, but to also urge people to come work for us”. Recruitment partnerships Despite having grown from the humble beginnings of just seven employees in 1974 to a 160-strong workforce today, recruitment remains a major bugbear for the organisation. “During our darkest period, we had no Singaporeans who were willing to join us,” Goh recalls. She is candid enough to acknowledge there are several key recruitment obstacles. “This isn’t a glamorous location and building,” says Goh, referring to the company’s factory and office headquarters anchored at the industrial site of Defu Lane in Singapore. “If you’re a fresh graduate entering the workforce, and if your friends and parents ask where you have applied for jobs, it sounds so much better to say Google, Facebook or companies that are in the public eye. “If you tell people it’s Seng Hua Hng, they will say ‘where’”? Goh shares that uploading a job advert a few years ago would have garnered just two Singaporean candidates from a pool of 10 applicants, with the rest having hailed from neighbouring countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. In order to buck that trend, the company has been embarking on a vigorous social recruitment drive through Facebook. It aims to source talent for predominantly bluecollared positions. According to Goh, response to the social
“YOU CAN USE AN EXPENSIVE MACHINE BUT IT WILL NOT CHECK THINGS CORRECTLY AT A 100% LEVEL. IT’S STILL BEST TO GET A VETERAN WITH 20 YEARS IN THE JOB TO CHECK THESE ASPECTS” – JAN GOH, GROUP HR AND ADMINISTRATION MANAGER, SENG HUA HNG FOODSTUFF
recruitment drive has been positive. “In the past, if we posted a job ad for a driver, we probably would have had a maximum of 30 applicants, and most of them wouldn’t have been relevant,” she says. “Now, we have 20-25 applicants weekly through walk-ins and phone calls. We have also become better at screening candidates.” The firm has also been working with Workforce Singapore and the national portal Jobs Bank to build a local core of talent.
Goh says these collaborations have led to the company appointing an entirely local senior management team. The firm also partners with the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises to hire ex-offenders, and has physically-disabled staff on its roster. “If individuals want to work, we want to be there to offer them a job,” says Goh. The company is now actively exploring opportunities to tap onto young talents. For example, the firm’s youngest recruit is a graduate of the country’s SkillsFuture “Earn and Learn” initiative. Under this scheme, fresh polytechnic graduates are placed with employers and learn through structured on-the-job training. The young staffer, a Singapore Polytechnic graduate, has been employed fulltime by the company, including one day a week that is set aside for her ongoing study. “This is a really good training plan because every quarter, we map out her lesson plan and the kind of training she must engage in,” says Goh.
Emphasis on training In June last year, the firm embarked on a nine-month SME Mentors programme, which entailed a seasoned HR professional assessing the company’s HR framework and mentoring the organisation’s managers and supervisors. One of the major areas of focus involved the company’s training blueprint; the firm has now drawn out specific on-the-job training plans for employees, particularly those who are involved in the production process. “Employees know what they will be trained on every day and within a week, each will be ready for other roles, even though the roles do not differ drastically,” says Goh. “We also map out training goals for younger employees on a weekly basis.” The company has further partnered with national SME agency Spring Singapore to adopt machinery and technology into its daily production operations. While the organisation’s manufacturing process is largely automated, Goh says automation does not eliminate aspects of the production process that requires human expertise. “You can use an expensive machine but it will not check things correctly at a 100% level. It’s still best to get a veteran with 20 years in the job to check these aspects,” she adds. AUGUST 2017
An inclusive culture With 43 employees above the age of 50 on its roster, Seng Hua Hng has a significant proportion of long-serving senior employees. One of them is Vivien Ng, a payroll employee who joined the firm in 1980 after the completion of her studies. “I have stayed here for such a long time because the boss is a very nice person,” she
says. “I have learnt a lot in the 37 years I’ve been here.” Ng’s longevity with the company epitomises the family-oriented nature of the organisation and its care for senior employees. The firm conducts regular health talks, screenings, and coaching for staff above the age of 50.
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Health and wellness is a key aspect of its engagement initiatives, with employees – both young and old – organising their own badminton, cycling, and jogging sessions with other staff. “All these have been done to foster the sense that our work is not mundane,” says Goh. “When you start thinking it’s mundane, you’re no longer interesting in growing, and you’re mindset becomes very fixed. Once that happens, there is no innovation and the company will be culturally dead.” The company has further facilitated open engagement and dialogue with its older employees to discuss their performance and career goals. “We’ve just closed our performance management process and a lot of our oldtimers are very uneasy with the notion of sitting down with their manager and talking about how they’ve performed,” Goh explains. “Most of our supervisors are the ones who are long-serving staff. If we don’t equip them, they are not able to catch up with the rest of the world.”
9 & 10 MAY SUNTEC SINGAPORE CONVENTION & EXHIBITION CENTRE
Asia’s biggest workforce management event returns next May, and we want to hear from YOU! We invite you to send us any recommendations for: Speaker Suggestions Cutting-edge Topics Innovative Ideas Fresh and Exciting Case Studies Feel free to nominate yourself, a colleague or even an acquaintance to speak at Asia’s most popular HR show! Don’t hold back – send all suggestions and ideas to email@example.com
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Beyond the numbers In an age of disruption and digitalisation, businesses that fail to capitalise on workforce analytics stand to lose out. ALEXIS SAUSSINAN, Head of Organisation Development and People Analytics at Merck, explains how his team has integrated employee data into business strategy
lease tell us about your role at Merck.
I head the organisation development and people analytics team, which fits within the global HR office. Even though I have a global role, I am based in Singapore. The Asia-Pacific is a key region for Merck. But my team is also spread across Europe and the Americas. Our mandate is to support Merck’s business in delivering practical organisational development and people analytics services. We seek to deliver on business strategy, as well as people strategy, by looking into reorganisation, new business models, workforce planning, and mergers and acquisitions. We want workforce analytics to be embedded in each and every single service of the business. As such, we don’t have a separate HR or people analytics team. Instead, it’s integrated with organisation development. I understand that most companies have a dedicated HR analytics team, but we really wanted to provide very practical and business-focused solutions.
What benefits have you experienced from this arrangement? Recently, we embarked on reviewing a Research and Development organisation within one of our business sectors where the overall mandate was to bolster innovation. We partnered with our HR and business colleagues to understand the characteristics around the current organisation, and were able to derive very practical insights from there. For example, we saw that the structure was too fragmented to foster good practice sharing and innovation. We also found that there was not enough focus on developing pure expert roles, as most people had diluted roles and could not focus on making core contributions. These insights arose from studying various angles of our analytics, and they helped to both provide new insights as well as confirm existing thoughts held by the business leaders. Ultimately, we want to be able to measure team performance and team engagement to make sure that people do feel comfortable trying new things or putting new ideas to the table. It’s very important that people feel good, and for us to be able to measure that through our ongoing people metrics and engagement initiative.
How embedded are these metrics in everyday functioning? How does this aid later extraction and analysis? How we measure metrics is important – it’s not measurement for the sake of measuring, but for understanding something specific. For example, innovation can and should be measured through a number of organisation, business, people, and financial aspects: say, the number of patents you are able to bring to market. Today, we’ve connected every single people-related data point in one people analytics service. We have more than 45 million data points embedded into our global platform.
That’s a lot of data points! Exactly, and it means that at any point in time, I can ask a whole set of business questions to derive insights. That’s how we shape our people analytics platform: through layman questions. We don’t want the platform to be a technical platform; we want it to be a user and customer-focused platform.
“Ultimately, we want to be able to measure team performance and team engagement to make sure that people do feel comfortable trying new things or putting new ideas to the table.” – ALEXIS SAUSSINAN, HEAD OF ORGANISATION DEVELOPMENT AND PEOPLE ANALYTICS, MERCK
Another big difference between us and most other companies, I believe, is that our people analytics platform is not only open to HR, but it’s open to all of our managers. It’s important to us to produce business-focused insights.
What would you say to those who think of workforce analytics as something that can be done virtually? For me, it’s extremely important that all of us, as a team, make it a critical point to understand the business and to be together with the businesses. I spend quite a bit of my time travelling across the globe to do just that. I think having a global spread and a deep understanding of the various businesses is important. That’s why we have combined Organisation Development and People Analytics: to make sure we always stay very close to the business.
What will you be focusing on for your session at the Third Annual HR and Workforce Analytics Congress? The anchor point of my talk will centre on our journey, and how it has always remained customer-centric: how our combined analytics and organisation development team has delivered practical solutions focused on the business and customer by staying focused on those aspects specifically. I’ll also cover some of the future objectives that we’ve started working on, such as reviewing customer experience to embed people analytics into the daily lives of our business and HR leaders, accelerating predictive analytics, and possibly taking baby steps towards artificial intelligence. I’m very much looking forward to it. I hope to also learn about the practical journeys other people have taken – I’m always keeping an eye out for innovative approaches.
Accelerating people strategy through analytics ALEXIS SAUSSINAN, Head of Organisation Development and People Analytics at Merck, will be one of more than a dozen speakers and panellists at the HR and Workforce Analytics Congress taking place in Singapore on September 26 and 27. Delegates will learn about accelerating people strategy and business performance through workforce analytics, with input from HR thought leaders
working across a wide range of industries Along with Saussinan, the programme includes speakers from General Electric, DBS Bank, and Lenovo. The event also features a two-day masterclass, tailored for delegates at different stages of the HR analytics journey. For more information, visit www.congress.hrmasia.com.
CALENDAR Third quarter of 2017
HR TRANSFORMATION 4.0 CONGRESS The pace of change in the business world is accelerating, and HR needs to evolve itself in order to keep up. HR Transformation 4.0 focuses on the ways HR can transform itself during times of disruption.
READERS CHOICE AWARDS - VOTING DEADLINE HRM Asia’s Readers’ Choice Awards is underway again for 2017. Get online before the end of August 31 to have your say in the best Singaporebased service providers across 34 value-adding categories. Your vote also puts you in the running for a relaxing stay-cation at the W Hotel in Singapore. See page 36 for more details.
12-13 SEP ORGANISATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND DESIGN CONGRESS
Changes in the competitive landscape can substantially impact a company’s strategy and operations. This is where innovative organisational development strategies can propel resourceful businesses forward. The Organisational Development Innovation Congress will highlight how HR can fully leverage technology and analytics in their capacity-building initiatives, identify key stakeholders for successful HR transformation, and unwrap the complex relationships between recognition, employee engagement, and high performance.
SMART WORKFORCE SUMMIT
Back again in September, Smart Workforce Summit takes a holistic view of the technology and disruption-led changes affecting businesses and workforces today and into the future. With “the father of modern HR” Dave Ulrich as the keynote presenter and workshop leader, this event will provide a vital blueprint for HR to navigate this new world of work.
26-27SEP WORKFORCE & HR ANALYTICS CONGRESS
Building and understanding data is an essential tool in every business function today. The Workforce & HR Analytics Congress showcases the vast pool of workforce data that HR now has access to, and will guide delegates on how best to analyse, interpret, and take full advantage of changing demographics.
HRM AWARDS 2018 - NOMINATIONS DEADLINE The 15th anniversary HRM Awards is set for March next year, but now is the time to nominate your most inspiring HR-focused teams, leaders, and organisations. Have your say before October 3, and check out the finalists in the December issue of this magazine.
HR PEP TALK 52 CONGRESS WRAP 54 EXECUTIVE APPOINTMENTS 56
MY HR CAREER
“Don’t simply partner the business on regular day-to-day operations. Truly partner the business ‘to the core’ where it matters most commercially”
LIM ZHI RONG,
HR Director, Unilever
READER ADVICE HR PEP TALK CONGRESS WRAP UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL HR CLINIC FEATURE
MY HR CAREER
LEARNING HR WHERE IT TRULY MATTERS While much has changed over the years, LIM ZHI RONG, HR Director at Unilever, says HR remains a profession where practitioners need to have their head and heart in the game
R remains one of those professions that are agnostic in industry, and professionals can swap roles from one part of the economy to another. Thus, one of the things HR professionals can do to develop themselves is to seek a variety
of experiences, ranging from business-tobusiness operations to consumer sectors. I was with The Linde Group during the early days of my career. Linde was a business-to-business company that sold industrial gases to enterprises. After The Linde Group, I joined MondelÄ“z International
which was in the business of selling chocolates to consumers like you and me; it was a business-to-consumer company. These opportunities allowed me to gain first-hand experiences in a wide range of industries, equipping me with multiple perspectives.
What do I mean by that? If you are working in an investment bank, have you ever thought about partnering your investment colleagues in a merger or acquisition deal? HR can conduct due diligence for the transaction team, and assess what is the HR capital and operating expenditures of the company to be acquired. This enables the investment team to make an informed decision of whether is it a good idea to proceed and to understand what are the people risks involved if the bank decides to go ahead with the transaction. The crux of the matter is this: don’t simply partner the business on regular day-to-day operations and succession planning. Truly partner the “business to the core”, where it matters most commercially.
Go global, or somewhere outside home
The exposure was valuable and it helped sharpened my business acumen.
Seek to partner the “business to the core” I also strongly believe that HR professionals should partner the business “to the core”.
What is your career ambition? Last but not least, you have to ask yourself what is your own career ambition. Do you want to be a “Local Guru” HR leader, or an “International Nomad”? A local guru refers to an HR Leader who has spent the bulk of their career in the HR function as a generalist, or having run one of the Centres of Excellence. Their exposure to the business would have been gained via a series of business partnering roles and overseas exposure within Asia. This is highly valuable and sought-after today, in light of increasingly protective employment laws in Asian markets as well as the general scarcity of HR talents who command a global mindset and an Asian point of view. An international nomad refers to a HR Leader who has spent a considerable number of years outside their home country, both within and outside Asia. Usually, they have had experience working in both developed and developing countries. The key here is to understand your own internal career desires, motivations and ambitions. Knowing that will help you shape the next career milestone that you want to achieve, that next rotation you’re after, or even the next career move to another company to develop yourself further as an HR professional.
UNDERSTAND WHAT IT TAKES TO DRIVE SYNERGIES, UNLEASH BEST PRACTICES ACROSS VARIOUS TEAMS, AND DRIVE THE STRATEGIC REGIONAL AGENDA
As the heading indicates, HR professionals should aim to “go global”, or at the very least, go somewhere outside home. Singapore is a hub for many multinationals in Asia. As a result, there are many regional HR roles in Singapore. But the truth here is that HR professionals need a good mix of country and regional HR experience. If you have been in a regional role for many years, leave your comfort zone and take on a country HR role. Stop living in your regional ivory tower and start immersing yourself in a country HR role to understand the opportunities and challenges. The next time you return back to a regional HR role, you will be in a better position to command the respect and credibility as a regional HR leader. If you have been in a country role for many years, take on international assignments and gain regional HR exposure. Understand what it takes to drive synergies, unleash best practices across various teams, and drive the strategic regional agenda. A well-rounded HR professional would have amassed both regional and country HR experience.
About the author Lim Zhi Rong is a HR Director with Unilever. He was previously the Regional HR Business Lead for the Asia-Pacific region with Mondelēz International. Zhi Rong first started his career with Singapore’s state-owned investment holding company, Temasek Holdings, where he was the HR business partner for the company’s investment group. He was shortlisted as a finalist in the 2016 HRM Awards for the Best HR Leader category. AUGUST 2017
MY HR CAREER READER ADVICE HR PEP TALK CONGRESS WRAP UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL HR CLINIC FEATURE
What is the key to successful redeployment of roles? PHAN YOKE FEI
Director of HR and Corporate Administration, Gardens by the Bay
DISRUPTIONS, PARTICULARLY from new-economy companies, have created a new normal in recent years, making constant restructuring and resulting redundancies a much more frequent occurrence. Somehow, HR still lags other fields in terms of keeping pace with the disruptive changes on the business front. At many organisations, HR lacks the ability to fully support key enterprise goals such as adapting talent-management strategies and processes to deal with changing business needs, managing change more effectively, and developing agile executives fully capable
of leading in such a volatile business environment. The changes in business priorities and alignment may directly create demand for different roles, while other roles become redundant at the same time. However, in practice, the timing of such changes may not align, and may require some anticipatory and planning capability from HR to bridge the gap. HR should make available measures and platforms to engage employees directly, keeping morale and motivation in check in the organisation. The factual status of redundancies and vacancies should be made available on these internal platforms as soon as they arise. Line managers should also be roped in to play the role of change agents, with open lines of communication to their reports. When such an open environment matures, there will be less opportunity for negative
rumours or suspicions to fester among the workforce. At the same time, HR can focus on establishing processes to retrain employees in a timely manner. This will involve a new perspective to the traditional role of learning in organisations. Instead of waiting for annual learning needs analysis and subsequent “prescription” of learning solutions, learning must be part of HR’s main solution to a fastchanging business landscape. Skill areas such as disruptive design, creative thinking, embracing continuous business transformation, and multi-skilling will gain more importance in this approach. This is imperative for the success of any redeployment of employees under most circumstances.
ASK OUR HR EXPERTS Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Helping GlassPoint grow and develop by living “sharp” MAGGIE SUN
HR Director, GlassPoint Solar China
IN THE MIDST of rapid economic growth, mainland China’s employment market revealed has different trends. Having been based in Shenzhen for 13 years, in HR roles in structured technology multinationals including in the software, telecoms, semi-conductor and internet sectors, I have now moved to a smaller and younger organisation – GlassPoint Solar. The company is the global leader in solar for the global oil and gas industry, and manufactures and installs solar steam generators projects across the world.
In 2016, GlassPoint Solar achieved a fivefold increase in revenue, and doubled its headcount across seven locations. Our China office, with production and engineering as the frontline departments, expanded by 350% through 2016, and we have successfully recruited around 50 staff via well-controlled cost-effective channels. As a result, we have maintained an 80% retention rate through until the end of Junethis year. The vital trigger for our growth is our strong vision and mission to deliver excellent business results and accomplish our aggressive business plans. The pivot of this strong culture is our core values, known collectively as “SHARP”: Safety Happy Agile Responsive Principled
Our core values help us make decisions each day. They enable us to hire people who share our vision, and help us meet the expectations needed to win customers and convince our investors and other stakeholders. We have established a comprehensive hiring system, from submitting a recruitment request to on-boarding and probation. We also spare no efforts in formulating, updating and fine-tuning our people development plan via training, sponsorship and a competitive wellness programme to retain high-potential employees. All our initiatives are aligned with the “SHARP” values, which unite us behind our mission of becoming the world’s leading solar company. They are the cornerstone of our global culture and the key to our success.
MY HR CAREER FEATURE HR CLINIC UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL CONGRESS WRAP HR PEP TALK READER ADVICE
Helena Santos Head of HR, Asia-Pacific International Baccalaureate
ho is Helena Santos and how would you describe yourself?
I’m a very friendly person and I always wear a smile. As part of HR, you have to be positive because there are so many things happening throughout the organisation – so you definitely need to have a smile even in the toughest circumstances.
That’s a great trait to have! Thank you. The human touch for me is very, very important in every issue and situation I deal with. I’m so passionate that I drag everyone along with me, in a good way.
What is the best part of your job? When people trust me and feel that HR makes a difference in their lives.
What is the worst part? DIGITAL IMAGING BY MUHAMAD AZLIN
When you have to have tough conversations, and have to come to an end with someone professionally.
Where are you from originally? Lisbon, Portugal. You should plan a trip there, you will definitely love it.
Why did you decide to come to Asia? I wanted an international career, and I love Asia. I didn’t come here by accident, but by choice. In Europe, you are more or less working with the same cultures, but in Asia, you get to interact with a multitude of cultures. I love that.
WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?
One of my bosses told me “Never do unto others what you don’t want done unto you”, and it’s something I have carried with me throughout my life and career
What would you be doing if you were not in HR? I would be a diver, or run my own diving centre. I’m actually a dive master.
Where are the best diving spots in the region? Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, even Malaysia. I’ve also gone as far as the Maldives. This is a great region for diving.
How else do you unwind outside of work? I love watching movies, having dinner with friends, and playing other sports like volleyball.
This could be a great post-HR career. Oh yes, for sure! The beach; the sun: It’s the dream. AUGUST 2017
MY HR CAREER READER ADVICE HR PEP TALK CONGRESS WRAP UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL HR CLINIC FEATURE
From stewardship to change catalysts EVEN AS BANK TELLERS are replaced by chat bots, and water sampling teams by robotic swans, HR leaders must stay nimble, pliable, and ready to address the fact that both jobs and the workforce are changing. This was the key message put forth by a panel of Chief HR Officers (CHROs) during the 2nd Annual CHRO Series Congress, themed “The CHRO for the Age Of Disruption”. The panel noted that in the current climate of disruption, it was important to continuously train employees. But beyond that, CHROs must also understand the business challenges faced by their respective organisations so as to best tackle the people agendas. Panel moderator Anish Lalchandani, Head of Talent Review and Succession at Standard Chartered Bank, spoke about his experiences in the banking industry: “Traditionally, the measures used to be: how many ATMs do we have? How many branches? That’s drastically changing now,” says Lalchandani.
“Instead, as customers increasingly turn path – jobs that Singaporeans are no longer to internet banking, the questions have interested in as they level themselves up.” become: do we still need the branch? Do This led to a bleed in talent, after which we still need tellers or Tan spearheaded an representatives standing initiative within PUB by the door?” to merge the career How then, does HR tracks of both diploma keep up? and degree holders. Lawrence Tan, Progression is now a Director of HR at PUB, result of performance, Singapore’s national rather than just paper water agency, concurs qualifications. that roles are becoming Both Lalchandani – LAWRENCE TAN, obsolete, sharing the and Tan agree that DIRECTOR OF HR AT PUB example of how a robotic ultimately, CHROs need “swan” had replaced a to focus not just on their three-man team to conduct water sampling own HR processes, but on the business as in Marina Bay. a whole. “It’s not just the jobs themselves that are “At most organisations, HR has a seat at changing, but also workforce demographics the table. But what are we doing about it?” in Singapore. Automation isn’t just making Lalchandani asks. jobs obsolete; it’s also increasingly replacing “We need to move forward to be jobs that offer little in the way of a career catalysts and strategists,” says Tan.
“IT’S NOT JUST THE JOBS THEMSELVES THAT ARE CHANGING, BUT ALSO WORKFORCE DEMOGRAPHICS IN SINGAPORE.”
At The Scene with... What brought you to the CHRO Series Congress? When I saw the programme outline, I found some interesting points in it, and my motive was to keep up-to-date with developments in HR in Asia. There’s not much that is currently offered specifically for HR, unlike finance, leadership and other functions.
Director of Finance and Administration German European School Singapore
Could you describe your role at the German European School Singapore? My official title is Director of Finance and Administration, which is misleading. I actually overlook all the non-education parts of the school, which includes HR, finance, facilities, and operations. Basically I’m a chief HR officer and chief financial officer in one person, so I’m my own worst enemy; I’m in conflict with myself all the time!
How did the content relate to your work? Our organisation is not that big, we’ve got about 300 employees and 1,500 students. So that brings me into a position where I can
consult with our CEO, who is the school’s principal, about HR and finance matters at the same time. This ability to discuss HR, backed by finance is very helpful with allowing the CEO to see the value of HR.
Which sessions stood out most to you in the past two days? I found both sessions by SAP very helpful. The transparency on salaries as well as its clear HR strategies – those examples were very practical as they came right out of their day-to-day routine. The other topics were more theoretical, which was also great, but the case studies were most helpful. You get to see what other companies are doing, how innovative they are, and what problems they have.
MY HR CAREER
AFTER BEING IN the graduate job market without success for six months, I am contemplating a two-month internship opportunity on the talent acquisition team of a large multinational. However, this is simply to help the team through a single campaign – there is no permanent job on offer – and I worry that I am being exploited. What do you think of unpaid internships like this? Unsure intern, Singapore
I WORK FOR a larger SME (150 employees) in the senior HR ranks. The CEO is urging everyone at our level to undertake an MBA in order to get a better understanding of the business and its future potential. How important do you think formal education in this space will be for an HR leader like me? Are there other ways of building that knowledge without going so deep into what seems to be a completely different functional area? Reluctant master, Jakarta
In this case, go for it – you have nothing to lose. You’ll get to put a multinational brand on your résumé, you’ll get experience of working in an intense, high-paced environment, you’ll get an idea of what it’s like to work and the expectations of an organisation of this calibre. And sometimes these free internships turn into paid internships, or a contract, or occasionally even a full-time job offer. So given that after half a year, you haven’t managed to crack the job market, this is a no-lose proposition for you. The one thing I would add is that it’s much easier to get a job – and you’re much more attractive to other employers – when you’re doing something, somewhere – even if it’s only a short-term contract. They get to know that at least you were good enough to do something at a famous multinational. That’s not to be underestimated.
FEATURE HR CLINIC UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL CONGRESS WRAP HR PEP TALK READER ADVICE
Is your HR career progressing as you’d planned? Obstacles and barriers come in all shapes and sizes, but seasoned advice is never far away. Email: email@example.com to anonymously connect with the only career advice column exclusively for Asia’s HR community.
There are several interesting aspects to your question. One is: the CEO is urging you to do this, but are they funding it? If they are, I think this is a great opportunity and you should take it. If not, I suggest as senior HR leader and representing the others in the management team, you ask the CEO to align their words and actions and support the funding, as each of you will be committing your time to do this.
Generally speaking, I would recommend HR leaders who get the chance to do an MBA to take it, because I do think building that broader organisational skillset that an MBA offers is very valuable and far too many HR people are too insular, inward looking, and administrative focused. Building the broader business savvy I think would be ideal, as would the value of the network that you will build. The other part of your question asks if there are alternatives. There are indeed, but they also take time and effort. So I highly recommend that if HR people get the chance to do a cross-function assignment, a short-term rotation, or even take on a line management role for a few months, to do so. In many organisations that is difficult, and an MBA might be a better option.
I WORK FOR a well-known bank here in Singapore, and am about to have my first regional exposure through a one-month secondment to the customer service training team in Cambodia. This is quite exciting for me as my ambition is to have a regional leadership role in the next few years. Do you have any tips for making the most positive impact over such a short assignment? HR traveller, Singapore
This is tremendously exciting. There are a few things I would do in your situation, and they all involve reaching out to different people. I’d try to find anybody in the organisation who had previously done some project work in Cambodia, and get any lessons learned from them. I’d reach out to the counterpart of that team in my organisation and understand how they work together and what they would like to see more or less of from that Cambodia team. I’d also take out to lunch the Singapore-
based manager initiating this exchange, so I can understand their objectives in this. How much of it is filling a short-term gap in Cambodia versus a planned part of your development? Either way, this is a really exciting opportunity, and I think you should grab it. I’d also recommend if there is anyone in your organisation who has transferred into Cambodia, reach out to them and seek their advice, and hopefully they can help you have a soft landing. And finally, I’d also do some basic cross-cultural research on business practices in Cambodia.
Is a board-level advisor to SmartUp.io. With 25 years of working experience in consulting and HR, his career has spanned across different industries and countries, including stints and projects with LG Electronics, GE Capital, McKinsey, the World Bank, and as Managing Director of Learning and Development for DBS Bank. AUGUST 2017
Opportunities for Life
RGF HR Agent Singapore Pte Ltd EA Licence No. 10C2978
Human Resources Manager, Thailand
Talent Acquisition Manager • Regional role • Executive level and above
• Asian technology industry MNC • Hands-on, challenging and strategic role
Our client, a global automotive component MNC is currently looking for a Talent Acquisition Manager on a 12 months contract (may have the potential to convert to a permanent role).
An Asian international company with global footprint, our client has an immediate need for a consummate HR Manager to lead its people agenda in the dynamic and growing market.
In this exciting role, you will handle the full cycle of recruitment and work closely with senior management and regional managing directors to hire key positions from general managers and above. You will be tasked with managing and working with vendors to handle the full cycle of recruitment. You will also be required to maintain and analyze statistical reports related to these hiring activities.
You will develop and implement HR strategies and programs in areas of recruitment, learning & development, compensation & benefits, talent management and employee engagement to support attainment of business objectives. As advisor to management team, you will participate in business strategy development, maximize organizational performance and take lead for HR projects. You will provide direction, develop and coach HR team to support the business.
To be qualified for this role, you hold a degree and have 7+ years of executive search experience with an MNC or executive search companies. You should have strong written and verbal communication skill; exceptional interpersonal skills, is independent and able to appreciate transformations. Ability to converse in Mandarin is compulsory due to the exposure and coverage of the role.
The successful candidate is degree-qualified in Business Administration or HR with minimum 10 years HR management experience including 4 years in managerial capacity. You bring demonstrated ability in stakeholder management, dealing with ambiguity and working in fast-paced environment. Those with pre and post-merger & acquisition HR related experience coupled with strong project management skills are desired. You are hands-on, mature, task-oriented with influencing and mentoring skill, and possess excellent interpersonal and communication skills.
To submit your application, please email your resume in word format to Li Li Kang at firstname.lastname@example.org or Audrey Chong at email@example.com
To submit your application, please email your resume in word format to Maureen Ho at firstname.lastname@example.org or Audrey Chong at email@example.com
EA Personnel Registration No. R1108467 & R1105147
EA Personnel Registration No. R1105976 & R1105147
RGF is the global brand of Recruit Holdings, the world’s fourth largest HR and recruitment services company and the largest in Japan, generating over US$14 million annual net sales in annual revenue. For more than 56 years, RGF provides comprehensive HR and talent acquisition services which include retained and contingency executive recruitment and market mapping, senior to staff level specialist and contract recruitment as well as payroll services. RGF operates in more than 48 locations across 27 cities in 11 countries and markets in Asia with in-country specialist consultants. Best Recruitment Firm in Accounting, Banking, Finance; The Executive Search Company of the Year; The HR Recruitment Company of the Year; Best Recruitment Firm, Non-Management Roles and Best Recruitment Firm, RPO. HRM ASIA, RI ASIA, Human Resources magazine www.rgf-hr.com.sg
SINGAPORE VIETNAM INDIA INDONESIA MALAYSIA PHILIPPINES THAILAND CHINA HONG KONG TAIWAN JAPAN
Talent Acquisition Partner
HR Business Partner
• Technology MNC • Business Partnering
• Retail/ FMCG industry • Campus and events
• Aerospace & Defense Industry • Business Partnering
One of the world’s largest IT services organisation is looking to hire a people’s’ leader to lead the HR agenda for Singapore and Korea.
A European MNC in FMCG/ Retail industry is looking to hire a Talent Acquisition Partner.
Our client is a European MNC in the Aerospace & Defense industry.
The role will focus on the retail business and hiring agenda through campus, referrals, internship programmes. Reporting to Talent Acquisition Manager, this role requires the individual to partner closely with business and come up with innovative ways to work with young talent.
In this position, you will take a hands-on and strategic approach, functioning as an individual contributor to the business, setting up HR structure and putting processes in place across the region. Partnering global stakeholders, you will assess the business needs and challenges, and identify the agenda of HR and implement best practices for the organization for all talent related matters.
The individual will be responsible for partnering closely with the regional heads for Singapore agenda on development of HR policies / procedures in line with country-specific imperatives and Identification and deployment of OD Interventions and developmental learning programs, compliance to all employment and immigration-related laws of the countries and the larger HR agenda. This is a people management role.
With a high focus on Employer branding, this individual will play a key role in shaping the Talent Acquisition Agenda and outlook and working on data analytics of talent acquisition process.
The suitable individuals comes with minimum 10 years of experience in HR, preferably for a services organization. With a positive attitude and technology savvy aptitude, this individual needs to come with a commercial sense of partnering.
The individual should have a high sense of stakeholder management, can do positive attitude, high- energy and ability to deal with mass recruitment.
Reference number: NC/JD498608 Contact person: Niharika Chaturvedi (Registration Number R1104291)
Reference number: NC/JD498609 Contact person: Niharika Chaturvedi (Registration Number R1104291)
Your Human Resources recruitment specialists To apply, please go to astoncarter.com and search for the 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. Aston Carter (formerly Talent2) is an operating company of Allegis Group, the global leader in talent solutions. linkedin.com/company/aston-carter
Allegis Group Singapore Pte Ltd Company No. 200909448N EA Licence No. 10C4544
The successful candidate is highly commercial, comes with strong HR operations knowledge, the confidence in managing regional and global stakeholders.
Reference number: CC/JD495790 Contact person: Celestine Chia (Registration Number R1442191)
Head of HR Singapore & Korea
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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.
• Established Financial Institution • Dynamic work environment • Excellent career platform We are representing an established financial institution, which APAC HQ is based in Singapore. With a strong employer brand and an employee-centric environment, this is a great employer of choice. This role will be responsible for the management of regional recruitment, managing full lifecycle recruitment operations and strategy with a focus on ASEAN. You will need to develop strong working relationships with key business leaders in order to ensure the recruitment function is effectively supporting the business’ talent requirements. We are looking for an experienced talent acquisition specialist with a proven track record of working within a matrix organisation. The ideal candidate must be able to work at strategic level as well as being hands-on and operational in execution. Experience in the banking and financial services industry is a plus. To apply, please submit your resume to Finian Toh at firstname.lastname@example.org, quoting the job title and reference number FT11888. We regret that only successfully shortlisted applicants will be contacted. Reg No: 16S8060
Regional C&B Manager (European FMCG) • Fast growing organization • Dynamic work environment • South East Asia and Australia Our client is a leading European multi-national and is expanding rapidly within the FMCG industry. They are recruiting for a high calibre Compensation & Benefits professional to join their dynamic HR team. Reporting to the Regional HR Director, you will play a key role to re-establish and build the compensation & benefits framework for the region. You will play a pivotal part to integrate and harmonise benefits across the business entities in the region. A hands-on mind-set and approached is required for this position. You will analyse competitive trends in compensation and benefits such as to lead and conduct salary review exercise, salary benchmarking, annual performance and rewards exercise. Develop, implement and review administrative procedures to monitor and review salary policy, guidelines and streamlining work processes. Perform job analysis and evaluation for each job position and prepare data and participate in surveys and reviews of data. Ideally you will have a minimum of 12 to 15 years of C&B experience with a good track record in guiding the business in developing and implementing compensation strategies across the markets in the SEA/ APAC region. With proven influencing and relationship management skills, you will have experience in as a management advisor to regional cluster HR stakeholders on the development and implementation for salary and reward program. To be successful in this role, you must have the ability to adapt quickly to change, be able to work in a fast paced environment and have prior experience in leading the region. Ability to design and implementation C&B programs, making positive changes and process improvements are the focus areas of this role and to roll out these programs for the region. To apply, please submit your resume to Joy Seow at email@example.com, quoting the job title and the reference number of 11898. We regret that only successfully shortlisted applicants will be contacted. Reg No: R1107886
Regional HR Manager, Asia • Global Technology Organisation • Progressive work environment • Regional scope This is a global technology organisation which has been in business for over 50 years. With a strong employee base and stable revenue streams, the organisation is looking to expand in Asia, and needs a strong HR manager for the region. This critical leadership role will be instrumental in aligning and executing the HR strategy, core processes, and activities in the region. This person will be expected to manage and continuously enhance HR functions, come up with solutions and take the company to greater heights. The role requires a high performance business partner with the gravitas to liaise with senior leaders in order to deliver efficient and quality HR services. The person should have a good mix of strategic and operational experience within progressive and complex multinational environments. It's a pacey environment so we are seeking people with dynamism and the desire to work in an intense and demanding environment. Proven track record of working across different countries and having a global mindset will be essential. To apply, please submit your resume to Finian Toh at firstname.lastname@example.org, quoting the job title. Due to high volume of responses, only shortlisted candidates are notified Reg No: 16S8060
Associate Director, Talent Management • Major Investment Corporation • Consulting Experience Preferred • Excellent Career Progression Reporting directly to the Director of Talent Development, you will be part of the team that builds and manages the talent development and talent management function. You will design and implement talent management solutions. Responsible to manage and refine performance and talent review processes. It is crucial in your role to develop high potentials to ensure an enhanced pipeline of high performing talent. In addition, you will work with the team to build strategic learning programs for the development of organisational capabilities. There will be regular review and refine competency models. You would have a minimum of 10 to 12 years of experience in a multinational company, preferably in a global bank or consulting firm. Successful leadership experience within matrix international businesses. High level of self-motivation and independent thinking, strong business understanding linked to strategic insight & perspectives. Strong interpersonal skills with the maturity to work with different stakeholders. To apply, please submit your resume to Joy Seow at email@example.com, quoting the job title and reference number JS12155. Due to high volume of applications, only shortlisted candidates are notified. Reg No: R1107886
Licence No: 03C4828
Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist (AVP/VP) – Banking Industry
“WHY CAN’T YOU work from home?,” my friend Henry, a software engineer who spent five years working remotely for a US-based start-up, asks me any chance he gets. And each time, with as much zeal as I can muster, I reply to him: “I’m in a role where face time matters.” To be fair, most of my “millennial” friends, like the rest of our supposedly entitled kind, also feel strongly that having the option to work remotely should be a right, not a privilege. I find that sentiment rich, even for them. Unlike computer programmers who have the luxury of operating in silos, many industries, including publishing, require a lot of collaboration across departments. Most people think journalists are always out and about, which is not inaccurate, but we also work closely with other internal teams like design and web. While flexible working options are on the rise, are they truly feasible for all roles? Advocates of remote working say it inspires creativity and increases productivity, and there is research to back this up. Microsoft’s Office Division Lead for Asia-Pacific, in fact, recently told me the traditional workplace might soon be a thing of the past, especially with the growing use of cloud technology. With the cloud, workers are able to work from anywhere in the world while still being able to connect and collaborate with others round-the-clock. But for every technology firm championing unique work arrangements (pet leave also comes to mind here), there is an IBM. In March this year, IBM reversed its flexible working structure, mandating for all 2,600 US-based marketing staff to report at its offices in six cities across the country, including Atlanta, Boston, San Francisco, and New York. This was a landmark move for IBM, a pioneer of the remote working movement, having offered the option to employees as early as the 1980s. IBM, on the back of decreasing margins, discovered that while productivity was at an all-time high, innovation was falling by the wayside. It had found that remote working was actually impeding new ideas. One study from Harvard also found that researchers who worked in close physical proximity “produced more impactful papers”.
Most times, all you want is a good conversation or laugh with your colleagues, and those face-to-face moments are priceless” What this shows is that working together in person actually sparks some of the best ideas. Personally, as much as I do enjoy the occasional work-from-home day, I also relish the feeling of going somewhere. It makes me feel more accomplished in my working life. Many times while working from home, I also find myself texting my
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co-workers back in the office to fix something on the backend of our website, or perhaps get some contact details of a source. With most impromptu requests, it’s simply easier to hop over to their desks than to send an email or message over the office communicator. You can also burn some calories in the process, but that’s a topic for another time. But most times, all you want is a good conversation or laugh with your colleagues about the latest headlines, and those face-to-face moments are priceless. Also known as the “water cooler effect”, these are the junctures at which creativity is often triggered. Not having to commute to work is great, but working off-site, besides having to splash an unreasonable amount of money for an iced latte weekly, can feel lonely over time. So what’s my verdict on remote working? Having the option to do so a few days a month is great, but staff should do it only when it makes sense for the business. That’s just my two cents. firstname.lastname@example.org
ILLUSTRATION BY MUHAMAD AZLIN
The death of the office?
Published on Aug 25, 2017
Published on Aug 25, 2017
In the August 2017 issue, HRM Magazine delves deeper into the fail-first leadership philosophy of Hari V. Krishnan, CEO of the PropertyGuru...