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MARCH 2017

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Dear HRM Asia readers,

EDITOR Sham Majid




Proudly owned by Diversified Group of Companies

MARCH 2017

uring the course of your networking with HR peers, it is more than likely that the term “gig economy” has sprung up. In fact, the gig economy is making waves not just through informal discussions between HR counterparts. Governments and global organisations are also scratching their heads trying to figure out how to best deal with, or take advantage of the phenomenon. But what even constitutes as the gig economy? Who are the key actors in such a massive ecosystem? More importantly, what are the ramifications and opportunities for HR? This month’s cover story will satiate your appetite on all things freelance, as we map out this phenomenon and probe how HR is operating within this diverse network. Staying with the theme of diversity, March 8 is International Women’s Day, and HRM Asia has dedicated a portion of this month’s issue to celebrating the specific achievements of women currently breaking the glass ceiling in the corporate world. Annie Meyer, CEO of Australian-founded international logistics business Transtar, shares with us how she makes the development of female talent within her organisation a core leadership strategy, while Jenny Ooi, Chief HR Officer at plasterboards giant USG Boral, explains why every HR policy crafted must impact the business’ bottom-line before anything else. Our Leaders on Leadership section also asks what more can be done to improve women’s access to top leadership roles. On behalf of everyone at HRM Asia, I would like to wish all women an empowering and impactful International Women’s Day.

HRM Asia Pte Ltd 60 Albert Street, Albert Complex #16-08 Singapore 189969 Tel: +65 6423 4631 Fax: +65 6423-4632 Email: ©HRM Asia Pte Ltd, 2017. All rights reserved. Republication permitted only with the approval of the Editorial Director.

Best Regards,

Sham Majid Editor, HRM Asia CONTACT US:

MCI (P) 110/07/2016 ISSN 0219-6883

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

MARCH 2017




“Gigs” on demand

The traditional and stable world of work as we know it is slowly displaced by unambiguity and disruption, characterised by short-term contracts and independent “gigs”. In this special feature, HRM Asia unravels the complexities of the gig economy and investigates what it means for HR.




Relaxed and inclusive


Getting into the groove


Great power; great outcomes

Annie Meyer has been an integral part of Australian-founded international logistics business Transtar International Freight for her entire career. As CEO of Asia, she heads up 12 offices around the region’s most important trading ports. HRM Asia asks about her strategies on retention, engagement, and people development.

There are times when everything in your organisation is going just right, everyone is aligned, and you are all working to the same goal. Social researcher and HR Summit & Expo Asia speaker Michael McQueen says this is no accident. Rather, there is science and art behind this momentum.

Being entrusted with greater autonomy to make decisions can increase an employee’s sense of ownership towards their work, which in turn drives productivity, as HRM Asia reveals.


MARCH 2017



34 31

All you can buy


Business before self


Making an impact

Instead of traditional one-size-fits-all employee coverage, a bespoke flexible benefits scheme offers staff a plan that best meets their individual health and financial needs. HRM Asia explores how organisations can achieve recruitment and retention goals by customising their reimbursement policies.

In a straight-talking interview with HRM Asia, Jenny Ooi, Chief HR Officer of HR at plasterboards conglomerate USG Boral, shares why every HR policy is geared towards maximising the potential of the business.

K Thiveanathan, Chief HR Officer at semiconductor firm UTAC, says HR needs to recalibrate its thought process towards making an empowering and purposeful impact on the staff they manage.


Scanning the environment

While Ademco Security Group offers a plethora of security products and systems, the organisation also crafts strategies designed to spur employees to greater heights.


Philanthropy with a passion

Consumer goods conglomerate Proctor & Gamble is sharing its marketing expertise with a number of non-profit and non-government organisations, helping them to raise awareness through an employeedriven, skills-based volunteering initiative.

53 REGULARS 4 News 10 Leaders on Leadership 48 HR Clinic 49 Up Close and Personal 50 HRM Asia Congress Insights 53 Upcoming Events 54 Reader Advice

MARCH 2017






HERO RAILWAY WORKER DIES A railway employee has died after being struck by a train while saving a mother and her daughter from the same fate. The 58-year-old maintenance employee saw a woman and her five-year-old girl attempting to cross the tracks while an inter-city train was approaching. According to witnesses, he jumped and pushed the pair out of the train’s path. But he was hit himself as he tried to also jump clear of the track. Local media reported that the father of eight children was only a few months away from retiring.


160 HOURS OVERTIME IN A MONTH Mitsubishi Electric is under investigation for allegedly compelling a male employee to work daily for more than a month. The 31-year-old staff member is believed to have clocked up over 160 hours of overtime between January 16 and February 15 in 2014, although official documents recorded only 59 and a half hours. This kept the employee’s overtime within the 60-hour ceiling negotiated between the company management and labour union. The Labour Ministry has so far corroborated 78 hours of overtime for the employee, who took a leave of absence shortly after the period in question. He was diagnosed with depression, and then fired after failing to return to work at the end of his company-ordered treatment.


UNEMPLOYMENT HITS SIX-YEAR HIGH Singapore’s unemployment rate has risen to its highest level since 2010. The national statistic increased from 1.9% of the labour force in 2015 to 2.1% in 2016, according to the Manpower Ministry’s Labour Market Advance Release 2016 report. Redundancies, which have been trending up since 2010, rose to 19,000 in 2016, largely due to the slower economy. This was still lower than the peak recorded during the recession of 2009. Total employment across the economy did actually grow over the course of 2016, but this was offset by an increase in the number of people joining the workforce.

KEPPEL SHEDS 35% Keppel Corporation cut 10,600 jobs from its Offshore and Marine (O&M) division last year. CEO Loh Chun Hua said the cuts were “painful but necessary” on the back of significantly lower profits in 2016. In the fourth quarter alone, the division reduced its workforce by 2,620, including 1,930 Singaapore-based workers.


MARCH 2017


The company is now cutting its yard capacity, and has delayed plans to develop new construction facilities overseas. The job cuts, along with the reduction of other overheads, have helped to achieve annual cost savings of S$150 million year-onyear.




CASH PAYMENTS CANNED Indian employees may soon have to get used to cashless salary payments. This comes after Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya introduced the Payment of Wages (Amendment) Bill 2017 in February, which will allow companies to pay wages via cheque or through staff bank accounts. Currently, employers require the written authorisation of each worker before remunerating them with anything other than cash in hand. The move is part of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal of making India a “digital and less-cash economy”.




SKILLED LABOUR TARGET “WELL ON TRACK” At least 35% of the Malaysian workforce will be made up of skilled manpower by 2020. This is according to Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot Jaem, who said the country is “well on track” to achieving the goal. Having more skilled workers would also help Malaysia “achieve high-income nation status” by 2020, Riot said at a recent graduation ceremony of the 1Malaysia Globally Recognised Industry and Professional Certification Programme. Participants received their certificates following their completion of upskilling and reskilling courses. Riot attributed this progress on the skilled labour front to the efforts and initiatives implemented by the Human Resource Development Fund.

A tough new national verification programme was ramped up in February. The Thai Labour Ministry urged all migrant workers to participate in the process, which involves having to return to their home countries for certification of their citizenship. Those that do not will face deportation after their current work permits expire. The programme is part of a Memorandum of Understanding between Thailand and its neighbouring countries of Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia, and aims to prevent forced labour and human trafficking. It was enacted in December last year, but authorities are now expected to enforce the rules more aggressively. The programme will impact the more than one million migrant workers who cross over the border from Myanmar. Many of these identify as part of the Rohingya minority, that are not recognised by the government in Yangon. That, critics warn, will open the programme up to corruption and the possibility of debt-bonded labour – with Rohingya workers forced to obtain certification through corrupt agents.

MARCH 2017






BIG PAYOUT FOR GM STAFF According to its agreement with the United Auto Workers union, GM should pay hourly workers bonuses of US$1,000 for every US$1 billion the company makes in North America. Hourly workers at General Payouts are pro-rated Motors (GM) will receive up to according to the number of US$12,000 in profit sharing hours worked. Employees payouts, after the carmaker who worked 1,850 hours announced record earnings for over the year qualify for the 2016. maximum. The company reported “By nearly every measure profits of US$12 billion last 2016 was a great year,” GM year, up from US$11 billion CEO Mary Barra said. in 2015.


BA CREW BACK ON STRIKE British Airways’ (BA) mixed fleet cabin crew held a six-day strike in February, as part of ongoing protests for better pay and working hours. The strike followed another stop-work on January 19 and 20, which led to 68 flight cancellations. The Unite labour union says BA’s mixed fleet cabin crew, who fly a combination of long and short-haul routes, are working on “poverty”



pay rates. Mixed fleet crew earn a minimum annual salary of £21,000 (S$37,325), after bonuses are added. BA has increased sanctions on the strikers, threatening to dock up to two years of bonuses and removing staff travel discounts.


VW CUTS TOO DEEP Volkswagen employees have accused company executives of being too aggressive with planned job cuts. Speaking through labour unions, workers said the company was “flagrantly violating the spirit of the (job-cutting) agreement”. The agreement was to cut 30,000 jobs globally by 2020, including 23,000 in Germany. This aimed to save the company €3.7 billion (S$5.6 billion) a year. But the unions say the company has not adhered to natural attrition as agreed. Instead they claim it has also been cutting temporary jobs. “The basis of trust needed to implement the future pact (has been) heavily damaged,” one Union Official said. 6

MARCH 2017


Companies in Brazil were involved in over three million workplace lawsuits last year, making it the world’s most litigant country for employers. Economics Professor at the University of São Paulo Hélio Zylberstajn said this was largely because of the country’s “industry of claims” phenomenon. Law firms specialising in workplace disputes regularly send emails to employees and call their homes in a bid to gain new cases. The Superior Labour Court says workers receive some form of settlement in all cases, with some instances of significant compensation costs. Last year for example, five major Brazil banks paid out 5.6 billion Brazilian Real (S$2.54 billion) across more than 130,000 lawsuits.




NO GUARANTEE OF WORK The number of “zero-hours” work contracts in the UK is on track to top one million this year. Zero-hours, or casual, contracts allow the employer to hire a worker without providing any minimum working hours. This means employees work only when they are needed, often at short notice. Their pay depends on the number of hours they work. In 2016, the number of workers on such contracts hit 903,000. Union leaders told UK newspaper The Mirror such arrangements had led to uncertain times for many families. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show those on the contracts get paid £7.25 (S$12.90) an hour on average.





US President Donald Trump’s controversial immigration ban has been suspended, after a Seattle- based Federal Judge issued a temporary, nationwide block on the executive order. An appeal from Trump’s administration failed to overturn the result. On January 29, President Trump signed an executive order that barred all travellers with citizenship of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the US for 90 days, or being issued an immigrant or non-immigrant visa. US companies, many of whom had protested against the order, have now put their workforce plans on hold as they await whatever happens next. Companies that employ workers from these countries, including Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, had argued that the ban would affect their ability to bring in overseas talent, and goes against their internal values of diversity and inclusion. Trump tweeted after the failed appeal: “See you in court, the security of our nation is at stake.”

South Africa will implement a national minimum wage of 3,500 rand (S$270) per month in 2018, following negotiations between the government and labour unions. Supporters of the wage said it would stimulate economic growth through increased worker spending. Critics believe it could lead to higher unemployment with the increased cost of hiring. “The balance we have sought to strike is that it must not be too low, so that it doesn’t affect the lowest paid workers, but not too high that it leads to massive job losses,” South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said. Monthly wages averaged 18,045 rand (S$1,890) per month in the year to May, 2016. Meanwhile, South African unemployment hit 27.1% in the third quarter last year, the highest level ever recorded.

MARCH 2017




Feeling the HR pulse for 2017 2017 is already shaping up to be another challenging year for the HR profession. HRM Asia shares some of the sentiments espoused by global HR professionals via the Harvey Nash HR Survey 2017


leadership capability (58%) talent management (57%) employee engagement (56%)


organisational growth up (4%) business efficiency up (3%) change management up (3%)

»» »»


recruitment (down 8%) performance metrics (down 6%) training and education, employee engagement, and succession are all less of a priority (all down 4%)

»» »» »»


60% 52%

concerned with recruitment challenges in local region (up 2%) concerned with demographics and ageing (up 10%)

Source: Harvey Nash Human Resources Survey 2017 8

MARCH 2017



(down 2%) are happy with the board perception of HR


of respondents feel they are not seen as very important by the board


80% of respondents are directly involved in the recruitment process (down 5%) 67% cite employer branding as very important to the recruitment process Online recruitment up significantly: LinkedIn (up 7%), other social media (up 15%), job boards (up 3%), and corporate websites (up 2%) Hiring through recruitment companies is down 13%, hiring through referrals and personal networks are both down 3% 34% of respondents are using direct hiring almost exclusively (up 6%)


concerned with labour supply and skills shortages (up 5%)

with flexible employee 45% concerned contracts (up 11%)



What glass ceilings do female leaders still face today?

omen are still very much underrepresented, especially at the middle and senior management levels of corporations. This could stem from them having less access to interactions with top leadership, whose feedback and support can give them a leg-up in the development of their careers. The lack of women in the upper tier of the corporate pipeline also inevitably means that there is a lack of mentors and role models for younger women in the business, creating an even greater sense of disempowerment. Yet another area of concern for women is workplace support for mothers. While women should not have to make the overbearing decision of choosing between their careers and their families, they are often expected to prioritise one

over the other. At PSB Academy, we were proud to be conferred the title of Most Empowering Company for Mums in an award ceremony organised by the NTUC Women’s Development Secretariat in 2015. We hope others can make milestones in recognising the need for flexibility and accommodation when dealing with working mothers. While there are an increasing number of platforms that acknowledge the significant achievements of women and the impact that they have impressed upon the workplace, it is extremely important for women who are currently in notable positions to continue to advocate for women across the board. They need to make a stronger and more consistent case for the removal of gender biases within the workplace.



General Manager Oakwood Hotel and Residence Sri Racha

10 MARCH 2017


t has been a belief in our society that female leaders are less likely to be successful than men, with many believing them to be more emotional than practical. That bias can be particularly strong against those who choose to be mothers. Female leaders contribute greatly to companies, yet are not quite recognised in terms of representation in senior positions. Throughout their careers, women leaders face more challenges and are given less recognition for their contribution. Women who do rise to the top are incredibly skilled and have strong leadership techniques. In an industry dominated by males in top positions, there are many challenges which prevent women from rising. The hospitality industry demands total commitment, working around the clock throughout the year. Female leaders are often pre-judged to be more committed to family than to the organisation.


Vice President, Student Affairs and Industry Engagement PSB Academy While many of the challenges come from other people, some arise from women themselves. Women should not internalise the constraints society place on them, but believe in their own abilities and potential for development. Women can be overlooked because they are not outspoken, or appear comfortable playing a support role. I have grown and emerged as a successful female leader because I strive to learn and, have the ability to plan ahead and balance my personal life. I believe in presenting and delivering my message with facts, rather than emotions. However, I see that society is still largely reluctant to allow women to fly. We need more women in higher management to start cracking the glass ceiling. International brands and local owners need to see women’s intuition and attentiveness-to-detail as assets rather than hindrances.


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Relaxed inclusive and

Annie Meyer has been an integral part of Australian-founded international logistics business Transtar International Freight for her entire career. As CEO of Asia, she heads up 12 offices around the region’s most important trading ports. HRM Asia asks about her strategies on retention, engagement, and people development Paul Howell


You are famously a one-company leader. Can you tell us a little about Transtar and your career journey within it?

Transtar is a service-driven and performance-based logistics company. We do more than just move the freight; we offer other support options for our customers, including documentation services and tracking. We’re in the business of integration and change, with a proven ability to help our customers manage their new acquisitions, new suppliers or perhaps their internal innovations. It’s been a fabulous journey for me. I joined in 1991 when there were a total of five Transtar staff. I started in import operations before moving to exports and commercial documentation to name a few functions. It’s fair to say I have pretty much sat in every seat in the business. I was appointed Transtar’s first female branch manager in 1997. That was pretty out there in those times. And I was appointed CEO of Asia in 2007. The role really includes responsibility for all the business development across Asia and it has led to an aggressive expansion plan which now has 12 offices and 130 staff across the region. As part of that, I established Transtar’s regional headquarters in Hong Kong, and a data centre in Shanghai, among others.


What does a typical day as CEO of Asia entail? I don’t really have a traditional 8.30 to 6:00 role,

and never have. But that is part of leadership in the logistics sector. It gives you a great platform to travel around the world if that’s what you desire. So for me, I’d always had a childhood dream of living in Asia and it is great to have been able to realise it. Although these days, I hardly spend any time in Hong Kong. I spend most of my time 30,000 feet above sea level. I travel through all our offices in China, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore but I also have board commitments in Australia so I travel there regularly too. If there’s a typical day, it would be to meet with my Hong Kong-based Asia office manager – she’ll brief me on the status and the challenges and the opportunities for improvement. I’ll do a lot of meetings with clients and carriers, and I’ll also be studying reports to understand the local markets here and identify trends and opportunities for Transtar.


Are there recruitment and retention challenges for Transtar in Asia?

HR challenges are forever a moving target in the logistics industry. Let’s be honest: walking around a warehouse, counting cartons, and talking standard operating procedures is not exactly a glamourous vision to inspire university graduates. But I love what I do, and it shows. And once you are in logistics, it gets in your blood and it’s hard to Photos courtesy of Australian Transport News, Bauer Media

12 MARCH 2017



BIO BRIEF Annie Meyer is a Group Board Director and Asia CEO of Transtar International Freight. She joined the company in 1991 and rose rapidly through the ranks and across a range of functions to become Transtar’s first female branch manager in 1997. In that role, she was responsible for a number of major customer and supplier relationships in Australia and Asia. Meyer was appointed to her current role as Asia CEO in 2007, when she relocated to Transtar’s regional headquarters in Hong Kong. There, she is responsible for all business development across Asia and has led an aggressive expansion plan throughout the region. As part of that, she has overseen the establishment of 12 new offices at some of the region’s most important trading ports, including Kuala Lumpur and Guangzhou. A highlight of Meyer’s leadership has been the identification and promotion of talented women and she has been recognised in the Australia Unlimited Global 50 Achievers List (2013).

MARCH 2017


LEADERS TALK HR walk away. The game changer is how does one inspire or entice great people to join? Potential new recruits nowadays are razor sharp and know they have a lot of options to choose from. As an employer of choice, it’s important we offer a real solid structure, a clear vision of what our company is and where we are going, and an opportunity for individual growth, not only professionally but also personally. How can I help them to help me, by me meeting their needs? Retention is an issue that comes up at this time every year. We have a strong reputation in the industry, and a lot of our operations team members get offers from competitors that are sometimes too good to refuse. I will never match a salary offer. That is a pretty strict rule. If staff want to leave, that’s OK. I can’t stop that. They should and do leave with integrity. But it shouldn’t be about the money. You spend so much time in the office and with your

colleagues – it’s the culture that you need to think about and Transtar has an awesome, fun culture to be part of.


How would you describe your leadership style?

I am relaxed and inclusive. Rest assured, I don’t have all the answers. But my goal is to have everyone working closely together to keep the cogs turning and the clients’ needs fulfilled – and hopefully the answers reveal themselves through that. My mantra is to lead by example, always. If I want people to follow my dream, I have to lead them. I am the first in in the morning and often the last to leave at night. Anyone that knows me, knows not to be surprised if they receive a few 2.00am emails. But I also always reply within the hour, unless I am traveling. We are in a very competitive industry and we rely on our communication skills. That shows the company is forever moving forward, is proactive, and is responding to client needs. Transtar directors and senior management, and I are all hands-on, integral parts of the daily business. The energy comes from the top because if you can see top-tier management getting involved in the day-to-day, then I think

ME MYSELF I I love: Passion! Whatever you do, do it with passion. I dislike: Wishy-washiness – that’s not a personality! Have an opinion! My inspiration is: My son. His enthusiasm and energy is contagious and motivating. He always has a smile on his face and is never too scared to deal with obstacles that come his way. My biggest weakness is: Time. There’s never enough time in my days in Asia. In five years’ time, I’d like to; Doing what I am doing now but with an even bigger, stronger Transtar. Favourite quote: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”. Winston Churchill

14 MARCH 2017


LEADERS TALK HR that that vibe and feel flows through to everybody.


What other strategies do you have for keeping staff engaged?

Transtar is a fun place to work, and after more than 30 years of growth and trading, that’s part of our true DNA. We publish an internal newsletter, called MyStar, which includes updates on all of our talent’s wins and milestones. It is delivered throughout the company, in every country and every office. I always know when MyStar is being published, because whatever office I am in, the staff all gather around one computer and you hear all of the “oohs” and “aahs” as they read about their colleagues. It’s a simple HR strategy, but we don’t need to overcomplicate it. It’s really important to also have a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy. I let each office nominate what they’re going to dedicate their time to. I am always quite intrigued each time one of them has to nominate what they are doing. And when they nominate, they are always more passionate about the cause. For example, the Hong Kong team has gone out to talk to, read, and cook for the elderly. CSR is a great bonding tool. When you do something good for the community – you are getting a lot out of it. And the photos are always phenomenal, and always published in MyStar.


Transtar boasts a large percentage of women in its senior management ranks. Is that a deliberate policy?

A highlight of my leadership strategy has certainly been the identification and promotion of talented women throughout the company. This has been really strong not just in Australia, but throughout Asia. We have a powerful diversity policy that says that the right person for the job is selected for their passion and experience. Talented women are finding themselves great success through that. As a group, we can train new team members with the knowledge they need, but what I can’t instill in them is the passion and positive energy that Transtar is about. Personally, I also like stability in a candidate’s history. Job swapping and changing makes me super-nervous. The women who have succeeded at Transtar have all been attracted by the strong maternity leave provisions and that added degree of stability. They all support each other, whether it is covering leave or working together on common tasks – it’s great to watch. The Australian Workplace Gender Equality Agency says one third of companies there have no women in key management positions. To me, that’s scary. Our management personnel

“We have a powerful diversity policy that says that the right person for the job is selected for their passion and experience. Talented women are finding themselves great success through that.” comprises of about 80% women, including myself. And this trend is also really changing in Asia at the moment. There are some phenomenal business women here, and sometimes still underestimated. I’m looking forward to watching the change over the next five to 10 years – I think it’s going to be an exciting time.


You also work with the Young Presidents Organisation. How has that network boosted your development as a leader?

The Young Presidents Organisation, or YPO now, is a global platform for CEOs to engage, learn, and grow. It has over 24,000 members in over 130 countries. It’s about life-long learning and leadership. I’ve received a massive amount of support and growth from my membership. I am proud to be the longest-serving female member of the Pan-Asia chapter, and in fact this year, I was appointed as the chair of that chapter; the first female Chair and also the first Australian Chair. The global leadership conference takes place in Vancouver at the end of February this year. This provides another exciting chance to meet CEOs from all over the world, who you just have an instant connection with. Everyone wants to learn more about leadership, and everything to do with business, family, and community.

MARCH 2017



“Gigs”on Demand The traditional and stable world of work as we know it is slowly but surely displaced by unambiguity and disruption, characterised by short-term contracts and independent “gigs”. In this special feature, HRM Asia unravels the complexities of the gig economy and investigates it from an HR standpoint Sham Majid

16 MARCH 2017



a certain number of hours a day, I work as and when I want and it’s extra income for me,” he says. Naidu is particularly attracted by this flexibility afforded to him, since he’s frequently engaged in meetings with his consultancy clients. “I can drive till my meeting and once the appointment is over, I can continue driving again. It’s free and easy, and flexible,” he says.

Breaking down the gig economy


n between meetings and appointments with clients, Shahanand Naidu, 24, who works in his father’s oil and gas consultancy business, also doubles up as a driver with ride-hailing platform Grab. Naidu’s reasons for signing up to Grab were straightforward. “There wasn’t any interview to become a driver and there was no hassle. The company doesn’t force you to work

Naidu is among the hundreds of thousands of individuals in Singapore taking up such independent “gigs” as and when their schedules permit, and earning some handy fees for their efforts. In recent years, fashionable terms such as the “gig” or “sharing economy”, have emerged, epitomising how individuals sign up for short-term job assignments, often through third-party apps linking customers and those who have the skills or resources that they are looking for in real time. The gig economy in Singapore comprises of many actors. But each individual gig is considered its own contract for service, as stipulated by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). The independent contractor, who could be a self-employed person or larger vendor, is engaged to undertake an assignment or project for a given fee. The ministry says such contracts

MARCH 2017



COVER STORY refer to a client-contractor type of relationship. However, individuals involved are not covered by the Singapore Employment Act and therefore not furnished with statutory benefits such as annual leave, medical leave and insurance coverage. They are not eligible for Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions from their employer. Those who perform work by way of independent assignments under contracts for service are considered self-employed persons. Those that don’t employ any other workers are considered freelancers in addition to being selfemployed. In June 2016, there were about 180,000 primary freelancers operating their own


CPF for gigs

Rebecca Chiu, CEO of MyWork Global, says her organisation is launching a CPF calculator as part of its app platform. This will provide both freelancers and businesses with payslips that include the Central Provident Fund (CPF) payable portions of each worker’s income. Provisions that are factored into this CPF calculation include: the number of assignments, and the duration and payment of each. “Businesses have the option of using this functionality to assist them with their CPF contributions,” she says.

18 MARCH 2017


business or trade in Singapore. This accounted for around eight percent of working residents. While those participating in the gig economy are not afforded with any employee benefits, it has to be noted that a significant proportion of them are also engaged in traditional employment relationships. These typically represent the majority of their work and income, with freelance gigs supplementing that.

Differing views Naidu acknowledges he doesn’t receive benefits and isn’t covered under the Employment Act when driving for Grab. However, he says that is the “whole point” of freelancing. “When I thought about being a Grab driver, I was prepared for this and I knew what I was heading into,” he shares. “If I’m given such freedom to drive as and when I want, I cannot expect them to provide me with benefits enjoyed by regular employees who work for a company.” Naidu says his friends also engage in freelancing work, and are undaunted at the lack of formal protections. “We are young and daring enough to engage in such work and are ready to go with the flow,” he says. However, not everyone shares the same sentiments. Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, for example, has noted he is “not yet a fan” of the gig economy. He argued that businesses were passing on risks to their contract workers, leaving them exposed when work dries up, or when there are accidents on the job. Such workers in the gig economy were at risk of instability in wages as well as not being equipped for retirement because of the lack of social security contributions, he told the McKinsey Innovation Forum last October. Ang Hin Kee, Assistant DirectorGeneral of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), has been one of the most vocal proponents for increased protection of freelancers in Singapore. He says freelancers can now be

classified into two groups, namely: free agent freelancers and “tied” freelancers. Free agent freelancers own their business, are free to name the prices for the services offered, and can work with many different customers at any one time. They are also capable of looking after their own medical and retirement needs. However, the NTUC is keen to focus its attention on the “tied” freelancers. These workers have no say in the price of services offered and must comply with the buyer’s price. They also do not have statutory benefits, and cannot seek recourse in the Labour Court for any wage or employment-related disputes. Ang says more freelancers are finding themselves in work situations where their income is heavily dependent on a few major clients or buyers, and have to comply with terms set mostly by them. He also notes that changes in employment and business models have seen a new intermediary emerge. “These are the aggregators, mostly operating via apps or websites, where they match buyers and sellers of goods and services,” he says. “As these buyers are able to exert substantial control over the livelihood of their freelancers, they should co-share the responsibility of ensuring that these working people receive protection in areas such as medical and retirement coverage”. “At the same time, HR professionals who are seeing these phenomena in their organisations can also play a part by looking at how to take care of these workers,” he says. HR can take proactive steps to take care of these freelancers by ensuring they are protected by insurance and work in safe environments, and also by promoting CPF contributions among freelancers to encourage them to take charge of their retirement needs. “All working people – regardless of the nature of their work – should enjoy fair work terms and be able to prepare themselves for retirement.”

COVER STORY Buyers and Sellers HRM Asia spoke to several business leaders that are part of the gig economy ecosystem. Rebecca Chiu is the CEO of MyWork Global, a third party mobile app that posts a wide variety of ad-hoc jobs and connects freelancers to businesses requiring manpower. She says both the jobseekers and the companies involved are given the flexibility to mutually agree on their terms of engagement. Concurrently, MyWork plays a part to foster mutually beneficial agreements by reminding companies of their commitments to work within MOM’s rules around part-time work arrangements. The MyWork app clearly details the description of each job posting, which includes hourly rates and gross salary calculation. “This gives job seekers clarity on the expectation of the job and salary compensated after every shift completion,” says Chiu. With a liquid workforce, she says participating companies are able to bring down their fixed wage costs and also better allocate tasks to both salaried and freelance staff. “By redesigning jobs, full timers are able to focus on core business functions, while freelancers can be delegated to perform support specific functions,” she explains. “Businesses, as a result, have the opportunity to become more agile and lean.” Hiring freelancers through such platforms also means having access to a database of on-demand workers, where the recruitment and selection processes are automated. Chiu says this saves on the time and effort required to manually manage a limited group of part-time workers. She says workers undertaking gig-style arrangements on independent platforms could face uneven cash-flows. “Companies issue payments at different times of the month, depending on their individual payment structures.

As such, freelancers might encounter inconsistencies in getting paid ‘on time’,” says Chiu. However, work undertaken through the MyWork app is protected under the MOM Employment Act. This means participating freelancers are guaranteed to be credited within seven days of the salary period. MyWork’s tracking system gives jobseekers a complete and accurate list of completed work. Michael Tan, CEO of Zap Delivery, says that this particular platform is “informational” and does not directly employ freelancers. As such, it is not governed by employment laws. Zap Delivery matches customers who need delivery services to freelancers who are able to provide them. The “employment” is between those two parties only. “We provide an alternative channel for people to monetise their spare time and assets to make extra income,” Tan says. “So, the Employment Act and its associated requirements and benefits do not impact us in any way, whether positive or negative.” Despite having over 3,200 freelancers signed onto the platform, Tan says there are still instances of unfulfilled jobs. “The demand and supply is dynamic, and as such, it can be unpredictable. “Sometimes there are many takers for a job and sometimes there are no takers. “So, for people who want to tap onto the large pool of freelancers, there is still some risk of non-fulfilment of their requirements,” he explains. Yeo Shiau Chin, Singapore’s country manager for Fuss, a third-party platform that connects house cleaning customers with those willing to undertake such assignments, says there are some regulations for both parties to abide by. This is particularly important since the work being carried out is generally in very personal domains. Fuss conducts face-to-face interviews before onboarding freelancers onto its platform. The company conducts police record checks on all of its cleaners, and checks on their knowledge and understanding of

house-cleaning skills. “We do a suitability check and evaluate if they take care of their own personal cleanliness and hygiene. Visible tattoos and dyed hair may not be suitable for such a role, especially when they are going into customers’ homes,” Yeo says. Those who make the grade are afforded some protections through the platform. “We have a list of tasks that are strictly prohibited on our site and this is made known to customers and housekeepers. However, we also inform the housekeepers that it is up to their own discretion when it comes to their safety, and they should reject the customers if they feel at danger in any of the tasks they undertake,” Yeo shares.


Assessing the gig economy

Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower has launched a new annual survey that will give the Government a clearer picture of the size and profile of the gig economy. The first iteration of the research took place in September last year, and looks at the numbers of both primary and secondary freelancers, and the sectors and occupations they are in. Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say says the data amassed will enable the Government to assess workforce patterns of the sharing economy and tackle issues specific to this part of the national workforce, including provision of sufficient retirement funds.

MARCH 2017


COVER STORY Potential risks

“All working people - regardless of the nature of their work - should enjoy fair work terms and be able to prepare themselves for retirement.” Ang Hin Kee, Assistant Director-General of the National Trades Union Congress

Freelance housekeepers also have the option of choosing to receive CPF contributions through Fuss, although Yeo says most of them prefer to take their payments as cash. “Based on the hourly rate that is offered, they have the option, should they choose for us to pay CPF. As such, their take home will be lowered accordingly (80% take home with 20% and additional employer CPF contributions into their CPF accounts), and we will pay the necessary employer portion,” says Yeo. One drawback for Fuss is that working with freelancers does not give them the full control of housekeepers’ schedules, or enable them to mandate their cleaning styles and methodologies. Andrew Khoo, Chief Operating Officer at Swensen’s, says the organisation

both on a last-minute basis, as well as when they’re planning their weekly rosters,” says Khoo. “It has served us well as these members help ease the work burden from our regular staff”. “They’re able to help with the menial, time-consuming yet necessary operational duties such as table bussing, food running, dishwashing, hence freeing up our regular staff to dedicate more time and attention to our customers.” Khoo says Swensen’s and its holding company ABR Holdings were concerned that JobsOnDemand workers would have insurance coverage protecting both parties in the event of any workplace accidents. The platform was able to provide an innovative “pay-as-youwork” insurance policy to cover its members, giving ABR Holdings the confidence to add this type of labour.

utilises a job portal called JobsOnDemand to access casual labour. JobsOnDemand allows the restaurant chain to hire freelance workers on extremely short notice periods, in order to help fill last-minute staff shortages. The jobs are posted by outlet managers, and interested JobsOnDemand members apply via the mobile app. Once selected, they head straight to the outlet to fulfill the job requirements, whether it is kitchenhand, service, or cleaning duties, and are paid the next working day. “Our managers have used JobsOnDemand to find casual workers

“We made a detailed risk assessment of the JobsOnDemand platform prior to coming on board as a partner, ensuring that fundamental areas such as workplace injury compensation and overtime issues were addressed,” Khoo says. “We understood these fundamental areas that protect the workers were not available in a typical freelancer contract for services.” Khoo says one potential disadvantage of being an employer in the gig economy is that freelancers are not as well-versed in the operational specifics of ABR Holdings’ business or its working culture.

20 MARCH 2017


Gloria James-Civetta, Managing Partner of law firm Gloria James-Civetta & Co, is adamant that freelancers should not be afforded the same rights as regular employees. “They are enjoying the benefits of working as an individual or sole proprietor where they are not governed or restricted by any terms governing their engagement,” she says. She also notes there is currently no authoritative body implementing safeguards for freelancers in Singapore and suggests a tribunal should be set up to deal with disputes. This would give freelancers a form of recourse that is tailored to their specific needs and the financial risks of freelance work. Of course, there are risks for organisations hiring freelance labour also. One is that freelancers may be exposed or privy to confidential information in the course of delivering their services. James-Civetta says each contract for service should include a confidentiality clause. This would prevent freelancers from using proprietary information to gain business for themselves or engage with the company’s clients directly. Ravi Chandran Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Studies, NUS Business School, agrees. “Since they are not employees, unless the contract expressly prohibits it – there is a greater chance that the freelancers could also be working for competitors,” he says. “Freelancers could also affect the image of the company when their service is not on par. Yet it may be more difficult for the organisation to impose controls and supervision on them as compared to regular salaried employees.” For his part, Naidu believes freelancers and those engaging in independent work in the gig economy need to take responsibility for their own lives. “If you have the discipline to set aside the money earned for personal savings and CPF contributions, then it shouldn’t be a problem,” he says.





Momentum is a powerful force in the physical world. Once something is moving, it needs an equal force to stop it. Social researcher and HR Summit and Expo Asia 2017 keynote presenter Michael McQueen says the same is often true in business. In this exclusive HRM Asia preview, he explains the extra value behind getting “on a roll” Paul Howell


saac Newton’s first law of motion says a moving object will only change speed or direction if another, new force acts upon it. Once it is on its trajectory, it takes an equal or greater combination of mass and velocity to slow it down. This power of momentum can also be seen in sports – there’s nothing like a winning streak to make your football team look and feel invincible, as if each subsequent goal or win is a little easier. And it’s also evident in the world of business. There, teams and organisations that get “on a roll,” where everyone is aligned and everything seems to work just right,

MARCH 2017


BUSINESS STRATEGY might be seen as lucky. But there is actually nothing random about this momentum – it is something that organisations work hard to build and then maintain over the longer term. While it might be made to look easy from the outside, the internal culture has been crafted – often by HR – to leverage on every win and milestone so that it helps propel the organisation towards the next.

Part art, part science The combined art and science of this organisational momentum is the specialty of Australian-based social researcher Michael McQueen. He says the concept in the physical world is easy to quantify – with Newton having proved

that force is equal to the product of mass and acceleration. “In a business context, it’s harder to pin down,” he warns. “We know what it feels like, but we can’t define it as precisely as happens in physics. “It is very much like inspiration. We don’t necessarily know where it comes from, but we know it’s important.” Likewise, having momentum and then losing it can have a devastating effect on a business, making everything that much harder to execute. “Momentum is dynamism and vitality. Everyone knows how much that hurts when it disappears.”

Research curation McQueen has been tracking social and

Up close with: Michael McQueen Based in: : Sydney, Australia (but with a second office in New York City, US) Mantra: “We often overestimate the impact of the momentous, but we underestimate the impact of the mundane” What does that mean: It’s rarely one big thing that changes companies and cultures. Momentum is won or lost on the day-to-day. Is the glass half full, or half empty? It’s half-full IF people are willing to adapt and be agile Your presentations are complete and you have 24 hours in Singapore. What’s on the agenda? I’ll get a taxi to the top of Orchard Road and spend at least a couple of hours walking there, taking in the sights and sounds. I love how much that road changes depending on the time of year or festival that’s coming up.


22 MARCH 2017


business trends since 2004. Back then, his first piece of research was on the changing demographics of the Australian workforce. Over three and a half years, he interviewed some 80,000 millennial-age workers to discover the impact they were having on businesses and the national economy. His first book, The ‘New’ Rules of Engagement, was based on that research and is still considered one of the most comprehensive guides to youth culture and how it impacts the modern workplace. These days, McQueen says he does more curating of research than direct study himself. But by collating and sorting a wide range of materials from business across the globe, he is able to

BUSINESS STRATEGY pinpoint trends and insights taking place on an international scale. “I’m looking at broad technological marketplace disruptions, trying to understand why some organisations win the battle for change “There’s such a barrage of research and data available. But businesses need someone who can turn data into information, and then information into insights that can help them get ahead.” His latest book, Momentum: How to Build it, Keep it, or Get it Back takes in case studies from all over the world and across different time periods to create a working model for momentum in the business world. “It asks: why do the enduring prevail? What do they do differently?”

A natural enemy Of course, it’s not just about finding the “sweet spot” of alignment. A key part of having momentum is holding on to it, or getting it back if things don’t go to plan. McQueen says that just as the physical world has a natural tendency to push back against moving objects – typically through friction – so too does business have a natural enemy against momentum: bureaucracy. Red tape and micro-management reduce effort at the individual level, which then adds up to slow everything down for the larger organisation. It’s for this reason that he is particularly excited about speaking at HR Summit & Expo Asia 2017 in May, with HR professionals a key part of any bureaucracy-cutting solution. “For an HR leader – you need to set an environment for people to perform at their peak. That’s when momentum will build,” McQueen says. “How do you reduce the friction between people and between departments?” Interestingly, he says the modern, open-plan office space can be a dangerous, momentum-killing source of friction. “We need to tackle a really hard look at the structure and the offices that we are creating,” McQueen warns, saying the benefits of increased collaboration is

being weighed down by the increase in distractions for workers. “The data here is compelling. Two out of three people are unhappy with the noise levels at their work.” “The modern open plan office is almost-purpose built to destroy focus.” Still, the problem is being recognised by some forward-thinking organisations. Rather than returning to the silent, sterile days of individual offices and closed doors, they are striving for a balance of collaborative spaces with private desks. “The pendulum has swung too far toward open plan working spaces, but smart organisations are now intelligently creating spaces where both (collaboration and private work) can happen,” McQueen says. “There’s got to be space and clearly defined boundaries.”

“The modern open plan office is almost purpose-built to destroy focus ” Michael McQueen, social researcher and futurist

Live in Singapore Michael McQueen will be making the trip to Singapore for HR Summit & Expo Asia 2017 on May 3 and 4. His presentation, Mastering the Art of Momentum to Future-Proof Your Organisation, is part of the exclusive C-Suite Symposium stream, and will reveal all of McQueen’s insights into gaining, keeping, and even regaining lost momentum for your team or organisation. “We all love being on a roll, where everything you do just works,” McQueen says. “But what happens when a groove becomes a rut? When inspiration evaporates?” Audiences will learn about the five enemies of momentum, as well the daily habits that leaders can adopt to build “unstoppable” energy within their teams. McQueen also offers a guaranteed “take-away” for delegates attending his presentation. “Every attendee will leave with a clear game plan to move forward. This will be an action plan for finding your groove; maybe getting it back, but most importantly making sure you keep it.”

Catch Michael McQueen at the HR Summit & Expo Asia 2017 Michael McQueen understands what it takes to thrive in a rapidly evolving world. Widely recognised for having his finger on the pulse of business and culture, he has helped some of the world’s best-known brands navigate change and stay ahead of the curve. He will take to the C-Suite Symposium stage at HR Summit & Expo Asia 2017 on May 3 and 4 this year to reveal the secrets of momentum in business. In his Mastering the Art of Momentum to Future Proof Your Organisation presentation, McQueen will reveal: • The science and art of building momentum; where it comes from and why it makes all the difference • The enemies of momentum – the early warning signs that business leaders and organisations should know how to identify before it’s too late • Leadership tips and habits to break the inertia trap and increase productivity.

MARCH 2017


HRM Asia brings you the 15th edition of Asia’s largest workforce management show. Featuring:

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Busting Bureaucracy & Building a Change Platform Prof. Gary Hamel Thinkers50 Global Management Thought-Leader & Author How to Win in a Wor Ferociou ld of Rele s Com ntless petitio Change n, and Unstop , pable Innovati on




Lead Your Organisation to Greatness - Master the 12 Disciplines of Leadership Excellence Brian Tracy Peak Performance Strategist, World-renowned Leadership & Success Coach

+ Newly confirmed speakers in the following conference steams Evolution of the Workspace: Strategies to Build a Collaborative Organisation Tan Lee Choo Head of HR Philips ASEAN Pacific

Surviving or Thriving? A Leader’s Strategy to Developing New Relationships in Today’s Changing Economy Gil Petersil Human Development Expert & Author

Leading in ASEAN Dr. Bob Aubrey Human Development Expert & Author

The Digital Recruitment Experience at American Express Joanna Miller Market HR Director, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia American Express

Creative & Practical Tips on Building Sustainable Leadership Programmes for Employees Chris Tan Head of Talent Management, Global HR Services Swire Pacific Offshore (SPO) & The China Navigation Company (CNCo)

Breaking the Norm in Staff Retention – 3E Accounting’s Best Practices in Work-Life Balance Lawrence Chai Managing Director 3E Accounting

PLUS: Dr. Bicky Bhangu Director – Singapore Rolls-Royce

Eriko Talley Head of HR, APAC Facebook

Ong Chin Yin Head of People Grab

Kevin Fu Director of Human Resources Havas Group APAC

Raman Sidhu Global Head of Learning Global Commercial Shell

Betty Lau Global Learning Director, Leadership & Business Skills Unilever

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+ New for 2017 HR Summit Workshop Series All new 2-hour workshop sessions for more in-depth discussions and practical tips with extended networking opportunities! Deepen your learning experience, choose the workshop that best suits your interests and is directly relevant to your professional learning including: •

Engineering and Energizing Your Employee Experience conducted by Ben Whitter, Director of Organisational Development, The University of Nottingham Ningbo China


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26 MARCH 2017


TALENT MANAGEMENT “With great power, comes great responsibility,” the popular expression notes. Being entrusted with greater autonomy to make decisions can increase an employee’s sense of ownership towards their work, which in turn drives productivity, as HRM Asia reveals Kelvin Ong


ill Gates famously once said, “As we look into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” Last year, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella echoed that sentiment when he announced the company’s new mission: “To empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more.” Offering a high degree of autonomy across all levels of their workforces appears to be a strategic move for many of today’s top companies, including both Microsoft and its key rival Apple. Apple, for example, has developed the Supplier Employee Education and Development (SEED) programme, where it sets up classrooms in supplier facilities. Workers, through their own free will and desire for career development, can take up free courses in subjects as diverse as computer skills, graphic design and HR management. One beneficiary of the programme is Carl Yang, who started his career as a material operator in one of Apple’s supplier factories in Suzhou, China. He was able to earn a high school diploma with a specialisation in HR over nine months of classes through the SEED programme, and even secured a position on his company’s HR team as a SEED administrator. Today, in his new role, he pays the opportunities forward by providing guidance on courses to other workers with similar ambitions. Yng’s story shows how something as simple as giving employees a say in their own development can boost the employee value proposition, even helping to retain talent. But as several

companies shared with HRM Asia, it also leads to higher operational efficiency.

Removing red-tape From a broader business perspective, giving rank and file workers some element of control means they are also able to make decisions quickly where needed. By moving away from bureaucracy and a top-down hierarchy, costly delays are minimised. “If decisions are made where the opportunities and issues arise, (the company) can significantly speed up operations,” says Imre Vadasz, regional HR director for Asia, the Middle East and Africa, at Sony Electronics Asia-Pacific. In view of this, Sony Electronics Asia-Pacific has taken a “bottom-up” business approach, and staff are strongly encouraged to take risks in their work,

with accountability for both successes and failures. To create this type of organisational model and mindset, Vadasz says HR had to “carefully align different elements of Sony’s architecture”, from performance management to leadership development, to ensure that each function gives employees the opportunity and ease-ofmind to chart their own paths within the company. By doing so, the electronics manufacturer hopes to build a “pro-active, fast, and responsive organisation”, which it says will lead to better business outcomes and a happier workforce. Vadasz says leadership, just as Gates identified, is the most critical element in the creation of an empowered workforce. This is because team leaders are not only responsible for leading their people, but also encouraging, supporting, challenging, and developing them to take ownership of their work. Vadasz recalls one of his very first conversations with a team member when he first arrived in Singapore four years ago. “She came to me with a problem. I asked her the question ‘What options

“If decisions are made once opportunities and issues arise, then operations can be significantly sped up.” Imre Vadasz, Regional HR Director for Asia, the Middle East and Africa, Sony Electronics Asia-Pacific

MARCH 2017


TALENT MANAGEMENT have you considered for action and what do you suggest we should do and why?’ “Her answer was ‘You are the boss, tell me what to do, and I will do it’,” says Vadasz. “We have come a very long way since that day and now all my team members only come to me with proposals for consultation, and now we are transitioning towards using their peers as consulting partners rather than me,” he adds.

It starts with leaders Vadasz believes that good leaders help to eliminate the fear of failure and the fear of making mistakes, which gives employees the courage to step out of their comfort zones and, subsequently, step up their efforts. “The focus is to help employees to develop, decide, and implement their actions and take accountability for the results,” says Vadasz. “(It is why) we put a lot of emphasis on the importance of coaching as line managers.” This emphasis on leaders as coaches has helped to enable the bottom-up model. One way employees have been able to take charge and effect change is through determining their own training and development programmes. Employees can view all available courses on Sony’s intranet site, before discussing with line managers which ones are in line with their career and personal goals. Apart from pre-defined programmes, staff can also suggest other learning programmes that are deemed as relevant to their current roles. Performance management is another area where Sony employees are able to determine their own fate. At Sony, company and department key performance indicators (KPIs) are defined by staff themselves. Staff develop and submit their individual KPIs for discussion and review with their respective line managers. “So again, we provide the overall direction and framework, but then 28 MARCH 2017


encourage everyone to take the initiative and responsibility to identify how they can best support the wider effort,” says Vadasz. “This is based on the belief that by doing it this way, rather than top down, we can create a strong commitment and ownership to deliver those KPIs during the performance year cycle.”

Employees as founders For a company like Airbnb, whose mission is to “create a world where anyone can belong”, enfranchising employees is a natural extension of the overall business strategy. “We want our employees to truly feel they belong at work,” says Ken Hoskin, Head of Talent, Asia-Pacific, Airbnb. The peer-to-peer homestay network, founded in 2008, has since achieved a valuation of US$30 billion and more than 2.5 million accommodation listings in 34,000 cities across 191 countries. The company attributes this lightning success to how it supports and invests in the development of employees. “Airbnb treats its employees like founders,” says Hoskin. Just as its founders took the risk to launch what some at the time called “the silliest idea”, the company also actively encourages its people to be entrepreneurs by pushing them to flex their creative muscles, stay ambitious, and constantly think of new ideas. A big reason for this, Hoskin says, is that the company believes some of the best ideas come from people on the ground who help build the business dayto-day. Geography is another reason why contribution from all levels is fostered. “Asia is a melting pot of cultures,” says Hoskin. “It’s important that local teams are given the autonomy to build on their wealth of cultural and institutional knowledge.” This means ensuring that they have access to important information and open channels of communication to share their thoughts, ideas and opinions at work.

The commitment to all-level participation is evident in a new host programme that Airbnb is rolling out, based on a pilot initiative completely driven by employees in Korea. The programme connects Airbnb hosts with professional translation providers, especially in territories where English is not a primary language. Rather than merely relying on autotranslation software programmes which can produce inaccurate transcripts, these translation services are able to capture the subtleties of various languages and closely translate them into smooth English descriptions of the listings and their neighbourhoods. “This was a tremendous success and boon for the hosts,” says Hoskin. Hoskin says that when people can see how their efforts are making a meaningful impact on the world, as in this example, they become even more inclined to put in greater effort. Furthermore, the accommodation network is also big on collaboration and learning. Staff work off shared documents which are consistently open to other team members for editing. “By combining collaboration and empowerment, the outcome is ‘accountability’,” says Hoskin.

Having control Chung Ji Yoon, the regional head of HR for Asia-Pacific at British American Tobacco, goes back to the basics in her examination of employee autonomy. “Think of a simple transaction that is done easily in your personal life. If the same thing can’t be done as easily in the office, as is usually possible, (employees) start to think ‘why can’t I even control this little thing,” says Chung. This leads to frustration and indifference if the situation is not addressed. Employees want to have a sense of control and feel like they are on top of things. “This is fundamental to building selfbelief and confidence in their ability to get things done,” says Chung.

TALENT MANAGEMENT “Autonomy starts from small things and can make a big difference when the concept meets the right employees.” One of British American Tobacco’s four main guiding principles is “Freedom through Responsibility”, and the company has several polices and practices in place aimed at promoting a sense of employee empowerment, such as flexible working hours and workfrom-home options. The company is also currently in the midst of a global HR transformation programme, which Chung says will put employees and line managers “at the heart” of the organisation. This will enable staff to become more self-sufficient, and therefore more empowered. As part of the HR transformation programme, a new modernised tool allowing employees to manage information autonomously will also be introduced.

Flat organisation At insurance broking firm Jardine Lloyd Thompson Asia, brokers are able to make policy recommendations with minimal guidance from leaders, says Regional HR Director Irene Teo. “Our organisational structure is relatively flat,” she says. Teo says brokers, regardless of seniority, are taught to take a cradle-tograve approach with accounts, handling clients from when they first meet with the company, all the way to the closing of deals. Management also assesses and identifies employees who are high potentials, then puts them in key strategic projects where they are given a significant amount of autonomy. Teo cites the example of a graduate who is currently training and has been tasked to work on a mergers and acquisitions deal out of Singapore. “He’s not just coordinating; he’s

reaching to the sellers and he’s working with various business functions to put everything together,” says Teo. “We don’t say they are at the ‘junior broker’ level, so they have to submit for next level approval – it doesn’t work like that. “In that space, we’re slightly different from our competitors and people have a lot more flexibility to grow in their roles,” she adds. Having such a flexible structure means brokers are more careful when making decisions, because they feel more accountable towards their clients. This willingness to put people in stretch roles, and the resulting freedom has also become one of Jardine Lloyd Thompson’s key retention strategies. “We are able to offer young people and budding talents the opportunities that many other organisations are not able to offer because of structural constraints,” says Teo.

“Asia is a melting pot of cultures. It’s important that local teams are given the autonomy to build on their wealth of cultural and institutional knowledge.” Ken Hoskin, Head of Talent, Asia-Pacific, Airbnb

MARCH 2017





you can

Instead of traditional one-size-fits-all employee coverage, a bespoke flexible benefits scheme offers staff a plan that best meets their individual health and financial needs. HRM Asia explores how organisations can achieve recruitment and retention goals by customising their reimbursement policies Kelvin Ong


t’s a question many employers find themselves asking these days: What is a great total rewards programme that comprehensively covers employees’ every need and want? That’s because most employees agree one of the key elements of a well-rounded rewards programme is an attractive benefits scheme. In fact, a Hays survey conducted last year revealed that 40% of Singaporean employees named their benefits package as the top reason for staying on with a company. Across Asia-Pacific, the Willis Towers Watson’s Global Benefit Attitudes Survey 2015/16 showed nearly three in ten employees preferred superior retirement and health benefits, over the chance of higher salaries and bonuses. The same study also revealed that three in five workers in Asia-Pacific would like to see some alternative to salaries and MARCH 2017


HEALTH AND BENEFITS bonuses within their total remuneration.

Cafeteria line One particular type of scheme that has been receiving more attention in recent years has been flexible benefits. These are also commonly referred to as “cafeteria benefits”, because they function like a lunch stall, where staff are given meal credits that can be used to purchase their desired items without having to fork out their own cash. In the case of benefits, staff can purchase anything they want from a set list of provisions already paid for by the company, as long as it does not exceed the given credit limit. Any additional top-ups are then paid for by the individual, depending on the terms and conditions. To put it simply, staff can put as much “food” as they like on their “plates”, provided nothing spills over, or they have sufficient credit. One key advantage of such plans is that they allow employees to cherry-pick only the products relevant to their individual needs, unlike regular group corporate plans where there might be a number of generic benefits that an employee might never utilise. In some cases, employees can also cash out unused credits at the end of the year. As Mercer’s Regional Industries and Products Leader Godolieve

van Dooren explains to HRM Asia, companies can also incorporate “fun” items in the packages, such as movie and restaurant vouchers, annual zoo passes, and gym memberships. Some plans even allow employees to book holidays or purchase personal items as a benefit. Staff then submit claims for these expenses on a dedicated company insurance portal. “I always tell my clients that they need to keep it fun because otherwise employees think it’s just the usual, boring stuff,” says van Dooren, adding that the best bespoke plans have a good mix of both medical and lifestyle provisions. She says that it is also important for companies to consider the interests and backgrounds of all staff before deciding on a policy. For example, in a company with more millennials on the workforce, the most ideal benefits are those that cater to worklife balance needs. On the other hand, wellness and health features might be preferred in an organisation where the workforce is older. The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices, a non-profit organisation that promotes the adoption of fair, responsible and progressive employment practices in Singapore, has long been an advocate of flexible benefit policies. “These types of schemes are very popular because staff do not have to take benefits they don’t really want and can opt for benefits they do want,” the alliance’s website notes.

Health and Benefits on show Flexible benefits schemes will be one of the key discussion points at HRM Asia’s Employee Health and Wellnesss Congress in May. The two-day event will give delegates a comprehensive guide to the business advantages of taking a pro-active approach to employee health, while also looking at the broad range of schemes and programmes on offer in the Asia-Pacific region. Speakers will include Alexander Yap, Global Rewards Director for UTAC (see: interview on page 50), Stephanie Tan, HR Business Partner with Fitbit, and Patricia Goh, Senior HR Business Leader covering Total Rewards with Mastercard. This exclusive learning event will take place in Singapore on May 24 and 25. See www.hrmcongress. for more details. 32 MARCH 2017


HEALTH AND BENEFITS “You can offer a wider range of benefits under flexible benefits schemes than your employees would get from a core package in order to accommodate the diverse needs of your staff.”

Bang for the buck Organisations that provide voluntary insurance programmes understand the importance of good employee experience, says van Dooren. She says being able to customise each and every benefit right down to the finest details not only boosts the employee value proposition, but also the individual value proposition, leading staff to becoming more engaged. It is also probably no coincidence that organisations like Siemens Singapore, Singapore’s Housing and Development Board (HDB), Singapore Power Group and PSB Academy have reported much healthier turnover rates since adopting flexible benefits programmes. At Siemens, staff are given “flex dollars” to upgrade their insurance coverage, or buy health supplements and equipment, among other things. The company said that about 60% of employees have used their credits to upgrade hospitalisation and medical coverage for their dependents. At Singapore Power Group, employees receive S$750 of benefit dollars each year. They can use these credits to pay for their children’s education, fitness packages, or even their personal holidays. HDB introduced flexible benefits back in 2005. Under its scheme, staff may claim reimbursement of up to S$400 each year in five categories: lifestyle, health and fitness, family, learning, and union membership. This scheme has seen almost full utilisation rate every year since its implementation. Today, some 80% of HDB staff have worked at the statutory board for over 10 years. Employers also achieve more bang for their buck with these schemes, say Cecilia Yeoh, Vice President of HR, PSB Academy. “The same amount of funds channelled for this benefit yields much more advantages compared to the previous scheme,” says Yeoh. The education institution’s flexible benefits, which were implemented in 2015, take into account the marital status and seniority of employees. For example, staff who are married with children are allocated a greater portion of flexible benefits dollars compared to staff who are single. Consequently, attrition rates have stayed low. “Through multiple discussions with our various stakeholders and fine-tuning the scheme, we have received favourable feedback and employees have expressed satisfaction with this implementation,” Yeoh adds. Daniel Lim, Assistant Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Communications, is one employee who has enjoyed the academy’s bouquet of benefits. He recently spent some of

his credits on dance classes. “Not only am I allowed to use this fund for alternative forms of medical treatment, I can also use the dollars for my personal development and enrichment, and participate in activities for my personal wellbeing that I would not have considered otherwise,” says Lim.

Making the switch But despite the multitude of advantages identified, adoption rates of these schemes throughout the rest of Asia-Pacific, apart from Singapore, remain slow. Mercer research data shows only 5% of larger organisations in China, Malaysia and South Korea offer such plans. In Indonesia, only 6% of companies with a headcount of 250 and above provide bespoke plans. Even in a finance hub like Hong Kong, only 14% of larger companies have such benefits, compared to 49% in Singapore. Van Dooren says one deterrent could be the initial set-up costs and scale involved. To implement such schemes, employers have to invest fairly heavily in automation tools, hire consultants, and spend time and effort enquiring with various insurers. The costs involved also mean smaller outfits do not have the capability to adopt such practices. “They are not major expenses, but when you add them up all together, it can become a significant amount, and that’s something the management needs to buy into,” she says. In the case of Hong Kong, attractive tax rates could be another reason why such schemes do not offer enough incentives for companies to make the switch, says van Dooren. In Europe, where the income tax rate is between 30% and 40%, exchanging a higher salary for more benefits means employees don’t have to pay as much taxes, while still getting to take holidays and purchase personal luxury items. But in Hong Kong, where the income tax rate averages a much lower 15%, there is no significant advantage to give up cash for benefits. Another potential hurdle to the switch lies in how employers themselves view benefits. It seems not many employers are promoting their benefits to their staff, which will make any changes to more flexible schemes ineffective. Research data from Thomson Online Benefits suggests that benefits cost businesses up to 25% of their total people spend, yet only 7% of employers actively communicate these benefits to employees on a monthly basis. The research also found that benefits add 42% to the value perception of an employee’s package, yet only 9% of employees were aware of the schemes available to them. PSB Academy’s Yeoh believes things will change only when basic administrative teething issues are addressed. One way to solve this is “to improve the integration between different insurance providers so as to simplify the process and encourage more businesses to make the switch”, says Yeoh. MARCH 2017




34 MARCH 2017






In a straight-talking interview with HRM Asia, Jenny Ooi, Chief HR Officer at plasterboards conglomerate USG Boral, shares why every HR policy is geared towards maximising the potential of the business Sham Majid


enny Ooi, Chief HR Officer at USG Boral, is not one to mince her words. While her counterparts may sugarcoat their conversations and engage in overtly positive rhetoric, Ooi pulls no punches. As the chief people driver of a global manufacturer and supplier of plasterboards, Ooi candidly acknowledges she is already on the back foot in many aspects of HR, especially when it comes to brand awareness. “Most of us here had never even heard of USG Boral until we joined the organisation,” she says. That is also a concern when it comes to attracting the younger generation of job candidates to the organisation.

Culture before strategy Despite Ooi’s admission, the organisation is making some big waves in its industry. It is the result of a merger between Australian building products and construction materials group Boral and US manufacturer of building materials for the construction and remodelling industries USG. While the merger occurred more than three years ago, Ooi says all 3,000 employees within the combined organisation globally are still undertaking a journey to discover USG Boral’s company culture. “A culture is one when everybody speaks and acts the same way,” she says. “I’ll be frank – we’re not there yet.” While USG Boral has crafted its purpose statement and core values, Ooi says that without defining employee behaviours, “it doesn’t (yet) mean a thing”.

The organisation believes defined employee behaviours will spur employees to venture out to adjacent markets, and to engage in critical thinking to enable the company to design complementary products alongside its existing offerings.

Optimising talent Ooi says USG Boral is the brains behind an extremely niche yet remarkably everyday product: plasterboards. “It’s just like how it was 20 years ago for Intel; people bought a computer based on how sexy it looked. However, they did not know that the brain behind it was an Intel Microchip,” says Ooi. In order to cultivate greater brand awareness among the next generation of job-seekers, USG Boral will be embarking on a unique programme targeted at university students in AsiaPacific. Students will have the chance to win

AT A GLANCE Number of employees: - over 30 in Singapore - over 3,000 in Asia Pacific Size of the HR Team: - 1 in Singapore - over 60 in Asia Pacific Key HR Focus Area: - Succession planning and a holistic leadership development programme - A formidable sales team that delights customers - Technology as an enabler to drive high performance and results

MARCH 2017


HR INSIDER cash prizes as well as an internship with the company, just by learning more about its flagship product and producing a video that highlights the health risks that can come with substandard ceiling boards. The videos will be uploaded to YouTube and the winners chosen from the number of shares and “likes” earned. USG Boral has kickstarted this tie-up by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a leading architectural university in Shanghai, which will provide students with exposure to the latest technologies in the world of dry walls and plasterboards. “Having these students – especially those from architectural schools – learn about our products will ensure they remember USG Boral boards,” says Ooi. Ooi is clear that this competition is for branding purposes, rather than any specific recruiting requirements. “It is a business which isn’t dependent on headcount; it’s dependent on strategies,” she says. “Just because you have more sales employees, it doesn’t mean that you will sell more products and bring in more revenue.” This mindset also transcends onto the general recruitment scene, with Ooi saying the company has relatively few vacant roles for prospective candidates.

“We do not hire on a large scale, and we’re very selective in our hiring,” she shares. “If we keep on hiring, we then have a group of people whom we have not fully accessed or utilised, and that’s not what we believe in.”

Business-first Despite being a certified chartered accountant, Ooi admits she was initially fiercely protective of training programmes she had rolled out for employees earlier in her career. “Long ago, I used to think I’m an HR person in business. So, I focused on HR processes and training. ‘Don’t touch my HR processes,’ I used to say,” she recalls. However, Ooi says she quickly realised rolling out training programmes simply for the sake of them was not benefitting the business. “In the first month, everyone is enthusiastic about it; in the second month, the HR team is enthusiastic, and in the third month, only the HR head is making noises about it. They are then embarrassed to talk about it if the programme doesn’t work,” she explains. Ooi asked herself a simple, yet powerful question: Was she a business person in HR, or an HR person in business?

Invoking a collective spirit USG Boral’s “business-first” mantra was recently highlighted by a unique goal-setting exercise in China. Jenny Ooi, Chief HR Officer at USG Boral, had challenged one of her colleagues, Alex, to meet the selling numbers for a particular product. “To make sure that he hit the number, I announced it in the town-hall meeting the next day,” Ooi recalls. The collective spirit of the company then took over, and Alex’s colleagues pitched in to help. “It became a country goal and everybody in the sales team did their best to make sure Alex hit the numbers.” Alex did indeed make the target, and was rewarded with a voucher to have a generous meal with his family.

36 MARCH 2017


Fast forward to the present, and her stance is crystal clear. “If you’re a business person in HR, then it’s about thinking about what you can do to benefit the business,” she says. This business-first attitude is also epitomised in USG Boral’s training blueprint. While training is centred around leadership development, sales and technology, Ooi says “leadership moves the dial”. One intervention has been the “situational leadership” programme designed by renowned American author and management expert Ken Blanchard. Every quarter, high-potential USG Boral employees worldwide are dispatched to the company’s headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to partake in the course. Participants are thrust into real-life business scenarios and are required to adapt their leadership skills to solve complex organisational issues. “The truth is there are many senior leaders who don’t know how to utilise their skills for different employees, different tasks, and cultures,” says Ooi. “Many studies have also shown that employees don’t leave companies; they leave leaders. With that in mind, we focus on situational leadership as this directly affects the business.” Due to the nature of the industry it is operating in, the company also adopts a different approach to typical sales training. Ooi stresses that USG Boral does not engage in the “traditional Asian way” of cultivating relationships with potential clients. Instead, sales employees are schooled in the art of “knowledge selling”, where they become subject matter experts on the company’s extremely niche products, even before meeting prospective clients. “Knowledge selling is not just about selling a product. The knowledge gained will be useful for one’s business. We




Chief HR Officer


want to be known as the premium building products company and the knowledge gained by our employees is crucial when they go out to meet clients,” says Ooi. Quality, not quantity, is key when it comes to learning and development across the board. “HR folks would always say ‘my people need more training’. But, it has to be training where once given, it impacts the bottom line,” she says.

Engagement with an end product Impacting the bottom line and enhancing brand awareness are also required from USG Boral’s staff engagement strategies, Ooi says adamantly. “It’s not just about having fun by playing bowling, for example. Even engagement has to have an end product,” she reasons. For USG Boral, every employee engagement initiative rolled out in different countries must, as Ooi puts it, “move the needle”. One example of this bottom line focus involved the organisation’s employees in Thailand. USG Boral realised its Thai staff had a poor command of English, which was increasingly being used at work and in professional settings. The Thai employees had to brush up on their language skills to engage in knowledge-


Senior Manager, HR Management System

KAMONPAN TANSAWANGKUL Senior Analyst, HR Information System

sharing with USG Boral’s Englishspeaking clients and customers. Ooi says the company promptly arranged for English lessons for its Thai counterparts. However, the lessons were not runof-the-mill classes. “We incorporated games along with assessments,” says Ooi. “The end goal was to improve their English, which would then allow them to better engage in knowledge sharing of our products to potential clients. “This would then lead to better sales revenue for the business.” USG Boral has also been steadily cultivating its brand image among employees through a popular corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative. The firm has been collaborating with nonprofit organisation Habitat for Humanity to build houses around the Asia-Pacific region. Employees from each of the South Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia and Australia subsidiaries have been helping to construct homes, using USG Boral products. “This has been an amazing engagement initiative that can kill several birds with one stone,” says Ooi. “Employees get to engage in CSR activities which they like, and they can also learn more about our products and understand how to use them on an everyday basis.


Senior Executive, HR


Senior Manager, HR

Power of home One area of constant debate is the compensation space. In fact, Ooi includes herself on the list of staff who will never believe they are paid enough. “If you ask me if I’m wellcompensated, I’ll say ‘of course not’. Nobody is ever satisfied,” says Ooi. “If you’re always going to tie rewards back to money, it’s going to be tough.” After years of handing out gifts to employees, leaders at USG Boral decided to try something different in 2016. Rewarded employees were instead afforded a gift voucher to have dinner with their families. The message was simple: have a good meal with your loved ones, take a picture and send it to your colleagues. It has been seen as a a powerful, yet moving gesture. “Leaders who have worked with us for many years sent us photos of their families having dinner and said this was their best reward in their 25 years’ of service,” says Ooi. She is adamant that employee rewards like this should always “affect home”. “The concept behind such rewards is that we believe you can never separate work from home,” she says. “People will forget what you say and do, but they rarely forget how you make them feel.”

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38 MARCH 2017


GUEST CONTRIBUTOR K Thiveanathan, Chief HR Officer at semiconductor firm UTAC, says HR needs to recalibrate its thought process towards making an empowering and purposeful impact


R usually articulates policies, messages and programmes from an organisation’s point of view, to achieve the company’s “intent”. Being an active business partner who is familiar with the company business, HR’s messages are usually written in business language, and reflect company expectations and intentions. HR impresses upon the stakeholders that it knows the business and organisational needs, and ensures bosses know that it speaks the “business intent”. HR has evolved over the years from being mere administrators. As we embark on playing ever-challenging strategic business partnering and change agent roles, “reframing” our approach by questioning “what sort of impact do we want”, will help modify our behaviours for that extra boost towards reaching our intended goals. Crucially, reframing of mind sets begins with understanding our own intention and a greater awareness of our behaviours that will focus towards the eventual “impact” on the targeted audience or stakeholders.

Breaking the “vicious cycle” When I took up an HR Lead role with a multinational some years ago, I noticed that my Employee Relations (ER) Manager was having challenges with our canteen operator. These comprised of general issues around food quality during night shifts, inconsistent pricing, long queues during peak hours, and the like. I reviewed the communication between

the manager and canteen vendor, where the focus had been on “employee complaints and areas for improvement” (the intent). The ER Manager usually collated the feedback and survey scores from employees and the canteen committee and then met with the canteen vendor for corrective action plans. The follow-up meetings would highlight the vendor’s gaps in implementation of action plans and be added to the latest employee complaints. This became a never-ending cycle with unpleasant meetings, sucking lots of time and energy of the ER Manager, the vendor and those who supported this process. I realised the need to break this “vicious cycle” so that our energy could be re-focused towards creating a new and more favourable experience for those patronising our canteen. For this to happen, we needed a canteen vendor who was proud of their work and who was excited to embark on this journey with us for mutual success.

Reframing observations During a one-to-one session, I asked my ER Manager to capture the top five concern areas and five positive

observations from the canteen. Not surprisingly, I received more than 10 concern areas, and only one positive observation. This prompted me to take my ER Manager for a joint canteen audit and to start to record our observations. Among others, I shared my positive observation of the clean canteen floors, well-dressed and uniformed canteen staff, who donned apron, gloves and safety shoes, refrigerators that were at the right temperature, decent displays of prices, a clean and well-stocked storeroom, compliance to the agreed daily menu, courteous staff, and a detailed log book on employee complaints. I helped her to reframe her observations on the canteen, and to focus on how to get the attention of a “complaint-weary” vendor to support our objectives. I requested her to write to the canteen’s headquarters, share our audit findings, highlight the positive observations in detail, and formally recognise the canteen manager and his team for those positive observations. I also requested her to thank the corporate management for their wonderful support and request a faceto-face meeting with them to discuss how to make the canteen a better place

“Reframing of mindsets begins with understanding our own intention and a greater awareness of our behaviours”

MARCH 2017


GUEST CONTRIBUTOR About the Author K Thiveanathan (Thivi) joined UTAC in mid-2013 with more than 20 years of HR leadership experience with reputable multinationals. Reporting to the CEO and the board, he guides the organisation’s people practices to impact it’s 12,000 employees across the globe. Prior to this role, Thivi was the HR Director of Coca-Cola Bottling Operations, based in Singapore. He guided people and change programmes when Coke went through a major business turnaround with the loss of its F&N franchise, and then pioneered the establishment of Coke’s bottling operations in Malaysia. Thivi has also held roles with the Goodyear Tyre Company as its Southeast Asia HR Director and with 1st Silicon (Sarawak) as its HR Director. He holds a Bachelor of Economics degree from National University of Malaysia and a Masters of Business Administration from Charles Sturt University, Australia.

K Thiveanathan (Thivi)

for all employees. The ER Manager wrote an email to the vendor’s corporate headquarters to that effect. The very next day, the canteen’s corporate office sent several members of their management team, personally thanking the ER Manager for our compliments, and offered to close all outstanding issues. During subsequent meetings, they also agreed to partially sponsor renovation work to give a facelift to the canteen outlook, and suggested several creative ways for theme-based food promotions. My ER Manager was pleasantly surprised and almost speechless when she shared the behavioural turn-around of the canteen vendor. Thereafter, we continually ensured our communication and initiatives focused more on recognising the good work done, while not forgetting key improvement areas. We also included canteen staff (including our contract cleaners) in our employee recognition programme and ensured that their corporate bosses saw 40 MARCH 2017


their contributions. We noticed marked behavioural changes when the canteen staff knew they were being observed for good behaviours.

Ensuring positive impacts Including canteen staff in the HR programme transformed and energised the overall culture and performance of our canteen employees. Within weeks, those who patronised the canteen – from shift employees to senior leaders – felt the positive impact of change in the atmosphere. Since then, our ER Manager herself has also transformed. We saw that her optimism went beyond her interaction with canteen staff. For example, when faced with challenging employees who had behavioural and disciplinary issues, greater discussion was held to review broader employee behaviours and holistic performance with a view to recognising what went well and how we could get this employee back “on track”. Similarly, we made changes to

broaden our HR communication and held behavioural interventions where the focus shifted from “HR’s intent” to ensuring positive “impact on employees or stakeholders”. Over the next four years, we successfully transformed the company culture, evidenced by an improvement in employee turn-over, lower disciplinary cases, higher productivity, reduced medical leave, improved revenue and, most importantly, enhanced overall employees’ engagement score, from a mark of below 50 to 70s out of 100.

Conclusion In conclusion, reframing my thought process from over-focusing on “our own intent” to a mindset of “what change I can make to have a desired impact on recipients” has led to positive results in my professional working life, as well as in my personal life. I have seen life-changing experiences within my team, as well as in those whose lives we have touched along the way.

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Asia Employment Law Congress 2017 13-14 June 2017 | Singapore

Asia Employment Law Congress 2017 provides you with the latest employment law updates, best practices for compliance and regulatory issues including termination management, antidiscrimination, hiring and firing across APAC region to help you fight litigation risk, stay compliant while protecting business interest. A snapshot of the Labour Law sessions in Asia to be covered; Singapore Non-competition clause in practice: Protection of business interests through the enforcement of post-termination restrictive covenants Hong Kong: Combat data privacy frauds and breaches and conduct employee surveillance Indonesia: Work permits & visas, and new different types of leaves Malaysia: Managing misconduct and poor performance in the workplace Staying prepared for Taiwan Amended Labour Act and Vietnam Labour Law Amendment

Key Event Highlights 16+ APAC country-specific topics to address complex workplace legislation 80% new speakers who are recognized at Top Legal500 on Employment Law across Asia 6 customised “Ask-a-lawyer� consultation slots at exclusive HR Legal Clinic Interactive formats of panel, consultation clinic and casebased scenarios to allow concrete takeaways

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While Ademco Security Group offers a plethora of security products and systems, the organisation also crafts strategies to spur employees to greater heights Sham Majid


inety percent of the business model of Ademco Security Group, a company specialising in security solutions, comprises of devising customised systems for clients. Meanwhile, the remaining 10% consists of the man-guarding business. However, it is this 10% group which continues to gnaw at Toby Koh, Group 42 MARCH 2017


Managing Director at Ademco (pictured above), which boasts of a staff strength of more than 400 employees across more than 20 cities in Singapore, Malaysia, China, the Philippines, Indonesia,,《。, and India. The security sector in Singapore has recently been placed under the spotlight, with firms lamenting the high turnover

SME SPOTLIGHT rates and low retention levels among security employees. Factors such as low pay, long hours, and boredom make the security profession unpalatable. Koh concedes there are fundamental issues plaguing the guarding industry. “Nobody ever grows up wanting to be a security guard. There isn’t the social prestige in being one. Very often and sad to say, it’s one of the last resorts for employment,” he says.

Shoring up on the security front Ademco has a few aces up its sleeve when it comes to recruiting and engaging its security staff. Koh says the number one priority is to ensure that the guards are treated with respect. “Whatever the office employees get, they receive it too. These include Chinese New Year red packets and benefits such as zoo passes for families,” he says. Ademco has also made a conscientious effort to ensure its security employees’ pay and benefits are above the market rate. The organisation also offers certain benefits which are not mandated by law. For example, companies are not required by law to offer term-insurance policy for employees. Nevertheless, Ademco has issued a generous policy for its staff. “One of our guards actually passed away at home. We then made a claim and took out a sum of money for his family,” says Koh. Ademco’s approach to recruiting guards is not based on a first-comefirst-employed basis. Rather, it’s about ensuring the right cultural fit. “This is extremely important,” he says. “It’s been proven time and again that if the person comes without the positive attitude that fits our culture, that person won’t last long. It then becomes an expensive hire.” What then entails Ademco’s culture? Koh says it’s about employees being part of a mission and working for a transparent organisation that has a flat hierarchy. “These people want to be part of a company that possesses a family

culture,” he says. Ademco’s guards are primarily based in commercial or industrial premises. According to Koh, two specific guard profiles epitomise its security team. “One group has been in the guarding industry for eons and is very unlikely to move out of the security industry,” he shares. “The other is the transient security officer. These may be employees who were out of a job but have decided to be guards because they can get a job immediately. However, they will only stay in this role until they get another job.” Tellingly, Koh shares that 90% of guards from the first group show an inclination towards rising through the skills and career ladder. In order to upgrade the skillsets of guards and to combat the talent shortage, Ademco dovetails its manpower guarding operations with technological systems. “That means we can deploy six officers instead of ten and supplement them with technology,” Koh explains.

“Because we’re able to leverage on technology, reduce manpower, and hence combat the talent shortage in guards, our margins have increased. This means we also have a bigger budget to hire better talent.” While Koh concedes that even his organisation is not insusceptible from the turnover woe, more than 40% of Ademco’s guards have been with the firm for over five years. Rather than trying to retain all of its security employees, Koh says his organisation is constantly plotting how to keep its long-term staff specifically. “That is more important because we consider this team to be a core team. In every site, we need core people whom we can trust,” he says.

All-rounded employees With Ademco’s employees skilled in functions such as system integration, maintenance and after-sales support, the organisation has structured a comprehensive learning framework for all staff. MARCH 2017


SME SPOTLIGHT Ademco’s training blueprint comprises of five competency levels with a combination of in-house and external training. In-house training entails designated employees coaching colleagues on different functions, while external training comprises of outside experts sharing their industry wisdom to employees. “For example, it may be an employee working for a certain manufacturer of a system who will come in to train employees about the product,” says Koh. Recently, Ademco also implemented a cloud-based HR management solution for its learning needs, which falls under the ambit of online learning. A chunk of these online modules require employees to apply their theoretical skills in real-life and practical scenarios. Personal development is something close to Koh’s heart, even if it comes at the expense of an employee eventually seeking greener pastures. “The old staff will probably get tired of me saying this, but I always tell them to learn as much as they can here because they will enhance their own value,” he says. “Even if they decide to leave eventually, they will be able to get better value in their next job because of the knowledge they have garnered.” Despite some employees eventually departing for new roles, several of them have returned back to the fold at Ademco, something that makes Koh beam with pride. “Right now in the Singapore office, there are about ten employees who have come back to Ademco,” he shares. The organisation has also made internal promotion a core part of its career development structure, with employees well-versed in different functions. For instance, Koh’s personal assistant rotated to a sales function before moving into customer service, while technical managers have been transferred to sales teams, hence affording employees the chance to be skilled in various roles. Junior employees are also promoted to become the team lead in their respective functions.

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Constant rejuvenation As part of Ademco’s commitment to continually reassess and benchmark its practices against industry norms, it embarked on an exercise last year with consulting firm Hay Group. This allowed the company to review and revamp its HR policies, to test its level of competitiveness, and to help realign its strategies as the business continues to grow. According to Koh, three issues cropped up when the Hay Group undertook an anonymous survey with employees. Staff wanted more pay and leave, further training, and more company social activities. Hence, the organisation has moved swiftly to cater to employees’ needs. After a thorough review of its benefits policies, Ademco has implemented a structured tier to reflect different compensation levels, and has also increased the medical and dental benefits of employees. Besides engaging in more training, the organisation has also moved away from an annual appraisal to one that is based on mentorship, with department heads

required to mentor their employees for at least one session monthly. “The session could be three minutes or an hour; it doesn’t matter. What matters is that there must be facetime, and that it must be engaging,” says Koh. One key reason for this change was that employees felt they had to wait too long to have their work performance assessed. “They wanted faster updates on how they were performing, and whether they were still in line with what was needed. We took into account these sentiments and thus changed it,” says Koh. On the social front, Ademco hosts a company luncheon for all employees every quarter. Besides events such as the annual family day and twice-yearly sports activities such as badminton and bowling, the company also co-pays for overseas employee trips。. These are held once every two years for between 60-80 staff. Ahead of Chinese New Year this year, Ademco also engaged in a townhall-style meeting and a reunion dinner with all staff。。。。。。。。。.

Solutions-first mindset Ademco’s business offerings are not solely restricted to security solutions and equipment. Toby Koh, Group Managing Director at Ademco, says his company strives to offer a security platform to help customers manage their HR operations. A case in point was the bid tendered to Resorts World Sentosa to manage its security blueprint. Ademco employees tendering the bid recognised that with RWS consisting of more than 10,000 uniformed employees, massive quantities of dry cleaning would be involved on a daily basis. This meant that employees may have to clock in to work slightly earlier to collect their uniforms. “We thought about all these operational issues and when we crafted our solutions, we decided to integrate our security system with their laundry system. This means employees can flash their card and their uniform will arrive through an automated conveyor,” says Koh, “We felt it was addressing staff morale issues because no employee wants to come and line up half an hour earlier to collect their uniform before their shift starts,” says Koh. In addition, Ademco automated the same smart access card to enable RWS employees to clock in and out for attendance at the point of uniform-collection. Ademco eventually fought off stiff competition from giants such as Honeywell, Tyco and Johnson Controls to win the bid. “One of the things I want to inculcate in our company is for employees to have a siege mentality, whereby if we don’t innovate and if we’re not the best of breed, we’re going to be extinct,” adds Koh.

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Employee Health & Wellness Congress 2017 24 - 25 May 2017 | Singapore

Addressing the Challenges on Creating a Sustainable and Healthy Workforce HRM Asia’s Health and Wellness Congress 2017, with the theme ‘Addressing the Challenges on Creating a Sustainable and Healthy Workforce’ highlights the importance of understanding how healthy workforce will impact your organisation. This 2-day event will bring together senior HR leaders and C&B professionals to learn about latest trends and innovation impacting Employee Health and Wellness and its practice.

Key topics to be covered include • Creating a culture of wellness within the organisation • Creating high level of engagement within the organisation through health and wellness program • Exploring best practices and trends in wellness program

TOP 5 REASONS TO ATTEND Singapore’s premier event dedicated on Employee Health and Wellness

Interactive roundtable discussions – learn from and network with your peers

12+ sessions showcasing employee health and wellness best practices and strategies from top companies in Singapore

Plus 2 Day post conference masterclass – for in depth learning on employee health and wellness program strategies and ROI measurement methodologies

15+ senior HR practitioner speakers from across industries

Join us at Employee Health and Wellness Congress 24-25 May 2017 REGISTER TODAY! Tel: (65) 6423 4631 | Email: |




46 MARCH 2017


Consumer goods conglomerate Proctor & Gamble is sharing its marketing expertise with a number of non-profit and non-government organisations, helping them to raise awareness through an employee-driven, skills-based volunteering initiative called Beyond Borders: Fingerprints Kelvin Ong


work for a company that places character above all other qualities in the people it hires – a company that honours and respects individual initiative at every level of the business,” Edwin L. Artzt, Proctor & Gamble’s CEO between 1990 and 1995, once said. These words of empowerment still ring true across the global organisation today, especially where it concerns corporate social responsibility. Artzt was heralding

a company-wide employer brand that would be built around giving back to the less fortunate.

Skill-based volunteering Employee-driven volunteering initiatives are a key part of this belief in action. The Beyond Borders: Fingerprints programme, which started out of Procter & Gamble’s Asia-Pacific offices in 2012, is a prime example. It was kick-started by employees like Sameer Srivastav, sales and marketing lead for Procter & Gamble’s AsiaPacific skin and personal care division, who had previously offered volunteer work sporadically over the years. Now also the Beyond Borders: Fingerprints programme director, Srivastav says this organisation-wide skill-based volunteering initiative is not about house painting, or food donations. The programme also isn’t driven by management, making staff feel obliged to participate in it. Rather, Beyond Borders: Fingerprints aims to empower employees to use their work expertise and knowledge to advise social enterprises and non-government organisations (NGOs) in need of guidance. “Many of us were asking: ‘How can I help out beyond just spending an afternoon at the elderly home?’,” Srivastav recalls. “We loved those experiences and we started to realise that we’re good at marketing, finance, and HR. How can we actually use our skills to help the less fortunate?”

Charitable culture

Beyond Borders: Fingerprints has evolved over the last five years into a bouquet of programmes, including the recentlylaunched Pro Bono School and a threemonth all-expenses paid sabbatical programme for Procter & Gamble staff to work with non-profit partners assisting women and children in developing countries. One key outcome of the initiative, says Srivastav, has been that employees do not have to leave the organisation in order to volunteer and contribute their time. While Beyond Borders: Fingerprints is an employee-led initiative, it would not have been possible if the company

did not highly value and encourage philanthropy. Procter & Gamble Asia President Magesvaran Suranjan, in particular, regularly promotes Beyond Borders: Fingerprints and its programmes in his townhall speeches, actively encouraging employees to sign up with the effort. The organisation also has an official leave policy that makes it possible for employees to take up to three-month sabbaticals to work full-time with NGOs.

Pro-bono sessions Procter & Gamble understands that brand visibility is important for all companies. But for NGOs and non-profits, increasing awareness and connecting with the general public is often vital. And there is no better teacher than a company with 175 years of consumer marketing experience. Through the Pro Bono School, launched in June 2016, Procter & Gamble employees like communications manager Katherine Leow have been able to impart their marketing expertise and share best practices with NGOs, equipping them with the skillsets to boost awareness and market their brands effectively. As the programme’s name suggests, these sessions are conducted free of charge for the participating organisations. Each one not only has the opportunity to learn strategies and sharpen their skills with Procter & Gamble’s experts, but they can also continue to consult with and seek advice from them after the session has ended. Leow, along with some 20 other Procter & Gamble leaders, spent an afternoon last December at the second

coaching session of the Pro Bono School, working with organisations such as World Vision and addressing their social media challenges in particular. Singapore Red Cross, Singapore Focus on the Family, Habitat for Humanity, and the Society for the Physically Disabled were among the other social organisations present. Leow, who has volunteered for each of the eight years that she has been with Procter & Gamble, says she joined Beyond Borders: Fingerprints out of her “passion for philanthropy” and desire to do more than just her day-to-day work. She has been deeply involved with Beyond Borders as a committee member, playing a role in strategy, planning, and event design and execution. Leow also runs the Beyond Borders: Fingerprints Facebook page. She says these coaching sessions have proven to be “win-win” for both her and the NGOs. “It’s been very useful because the difference is when I work with social media agencies, we are not restricted by money. Now, especially with NGOs, we have to work with their limitations, including how not to shove pictures and ideas into people’s faces. “And this helps me with my work as well, which I bring back with me,” explains Leow. This development benefit for the participating volunteers is also proving to be a key benefit for Procter & Gamble itself. “Employees who are a part of these programmes actually come back feeling more energised, and more effective and focused in their work,” says Srivastav.

MARCH 2017



How can I best support my ‘idea machine’ manager?


ou may have that one manager who constantly spouts ideas and methods of execution. Their creativity in finding solution-oriented actions is often impressive, and it is not always easy to keep pace with all of their ideas. Although their initiative is great, there comes a point when this hyper-creativity becomes counter-productive. Limited financial and/ or human resources can hinder timely execution, and there is also a tendency for idea generators to adapt their ideas along the way. Cutting off these ‘idea machine’ managers would stop them being creative. However, without focus, they will drown your team in hundreds of unfinished projects. Try this three step solution: Firstly, welcome these ideas by giving your manager time and space to brainstorm on a consistent basis. It is important to provide a space where the ‘idea

machine’ feels they are being listened to. After hearing them out, explain what you need and come to an agreement on a few ideas to proceed with. Then, consult your execution team on the feasibility. This way, there is ownership at all three levels. Secondly, keep an ideas list from the brainstorming meetings. This way, potential projects will always be on hand, which creates a cycle of ongoing activity, keeping the workplace energy revving away. Finally, focus the attention on a maximum of three projects at a time. That way, everyone involved is reenergised by the successfully completed project and will be ready to repeat the cycle.

Carina Rogerio

Head of Coaching Division, Executive Coach International Pte Ltd

Ask our HR experts. Email your questions to

Be a BIG FISH in our small pond The Centre for Effective Workplaces (CEW) was set up by SNEF to help companies to be flexible, inclusive, safe and healthy. Working together with our tripartite partners, government agencies, trade unions and associations to drive national initiatives, CEW offers a wide range of assistance from the administering of government funding, organising events and outreach efforts to keep employers abreast of the latest initiatives and trends. CEW proactively encourages employers to implement progressive employment practices to transform workplaces into great places to work. Enquire with us today! | | |

48 MARCH 2017

ISSUE 16.11




THOMAS SCHELLERER HR Director Pepperl+Fuchs

Who is Thomas Schellerer and what defines you?  He is a highly dedicated person, who enjoys working and living in a multicultural environment like Asia. What motivates you as an HR professional?  It motivates me to see how people develop and can bring their best forward for the company. How did you get your start in HR?  After I graduated from university, I was working in a logistics job. The company did not have an HR department, so I had to do all the HR work – from talking to unions, to recruiting. And actually I liked the HR elements more than the technical parts, so I decided to start a career in HR. Complete this sentence. HR is... 

the most important part of a company. It’s about people, and you cannot run a company without people.

What would you be doing if you were not in HR?  

I would be an author of travel guide books, a movie reviewer, or a professional football coach.

What are the best and worst parts of your job? 

Both the best and

worst parts are working with people!

Briefly describe a day in the office.   I make tea, I sit in front of the computer, get into meetings, get on phone calls, and try to avoid snacking. Now describe a day outside the office?  I spend time with family, go to the movies, play sports, and go travelling when I get the chance to. What do you love most about travelling?  What I love most is that I get to discover different places, cultures, and cuisines.

“It motivates me to see people develop and bring their best forward.”

In your opinion, what makes a good leader?   You have to be a good role model, you have to walk the talk, display integrity and exemplify team work. MARCH 2017



BUILDING A CULTURE OF HEALTH Creating a sustainable and healthy workforce is a key focus for any HR team. Alexander Yap, Global Rewards Director for UTAC, says a comprehensive benefits programme remains a vital investment for employers of all sizes. He offers these tips for getting buy-in ahead of HRM Asia’s Employee Health and Wellbeing Congress in May

50 MARCH 2017



Can you describe your role at UTAC? As the rewards director, how are you involved with employee health and wellness initiatives? My role in UTAC is to lead the total rewards global function. It is important for me to align with management and to provide an effective strategy which can elevate our current employee health and wellness initiatives that transition from local country site-specific activities into a more comprehensive common programme. This places greater emphasis on total wellbeing, including through the use of improved technology for worksite wellness. This will serve well on UTAC’s employer branding and provide a better value proposition for our employees.



What long-term advantages does a healthier workforce bring to employers? With every passing year, the importance of employee health grows. Today’s environment poses elevated risks for unhealthy eating, stress-related diseases, and also lifestyle risks. These, in turn, affect employees with risks to their physical body, and emotional and mental wellbeing. Inevitably these risks can translate into increases to the costs of company-provided medical benefits, which are already trending higher. Another great concern is that risks to employees’ health may impact their ongoing success and competitiveness. In the long term, success is defined as the company being able to influence its’ employees through a healthier environment with employees getting healthier and happier. And the resulting returns-on-investment are significant gains in employee productivity and discretionary effort. Employees will also perceive their organisation as a caring employer, becoming more engaged and likely to stay longer.


How does organisational culture impact the goal of a healthier workforce? I like the quote, “If you take care of your people, they’ll take care of your business”. A successful organisational culture must result in creating managers who care and employees that are happy. Leaders that care provide the positive influence and impetus to make the company wellness programme thrive. In turn, happier employees are more likely to participate in company wellness programmes, as compared to disgruntled employees. This is also not forgetting that employees ought to see the benefit of wellness programmes and take personal ownership for their wellbeing. By creating more of these caring and happy individuals, a wave of positivity can build momentum

Alexander Yap, Global Rewards Director for semiconductor firm UTAC, will be among the high-profile speaker lineup at HRM Asia’s Employee Health and Wellness Congress on May 24 and 25. This exclusive HR learning event will feature a wide range of talks, presentations, roundtables, case studies, and debate, all focused on how HR can get the best engagement, retention, and health

returns from its employee wellness investments. Delegates will also build their understanding of the various Government-sponsored workplace wellness initiatives available in Singapore and hear how creating a wellness culture creates positive bottom-line returns for organisations that make the effort.

For more information, visit: towards an even greater culture.


How can organisations best integrate wellness into their benefits packages?

Engaging employees in workplace wellness involves addressing needs that extend beyond direct healthcare to a broader set of lifestyle goals. Successful employers will aim for a benefits package that is customised, flexible and relevant to address the fabric of each individual’s lifestyle and workplace. Making use of existing insurance providers and leveraging on technology can help integrate the employee’s work and personal lives, whereby staff no longer perceive their company as “just a place of work,” but perhaps “an extension of home”.


What strategies can you use to get senior leadership buy-in for employee health investments?

Provide solid evidence as to why a broad workplace wellness programme would work for the company. This usually will be “as a means to curb rising health care costs” and in order to remain consistent with company and employee values. Look for success stories and statistics that are similar to your company’s situation. Having an affordable (first year trial offers can represent great value), relevant (resonating across a multigenerational workforce), and measurable (for metrics such as employee

motivation, retention, and productivity) strategy will further help the proposal, and finally– when all else fails – remind leaders that “it’s the right thing to do” to gain management approval.


What strategies do you use to get staff engaging with your wellness programmes?

Common ideas for the extra motivational push are motivations surrounding: financials (gift cards or decreased premiums), social recognition (awards) and surprise incentives that add an element of fun. Customised recognition and communications are also valuable. Communications ought to be catchy, frequent and short, and use a variety of channels, including emails, intranet sites, and employee meetings. Also aim to keep the programme fun. Special interest groups (such as those focused on cycling or walking), and friendly challenges or contests between employees can help staff lose weight or make other important lifestyle changes. Finally, integrate programmes with existing work-life balance initiatives. To help employees manage all aspects of their wellbeing, more employers are offering services beyond the traditional employee assistance programme. These could include counselling services, child care and elder care opportunities, financial planning, and even on-site massage therapy and yoga. MARCH 2017




s with most investments, demonstrating measurable impact is a key decision point for companies looking to devote resources to training and development. That was one of the key takeaways at last month’s HRM Asia Measuring Return on Investment on Training and Development Masterclass. In today’s soft economic climate, the need to quantify return on investment (ROI) on learning interventions has become crucial, not only in the private sector, but also the public sphere which is required to comprehensively justify all public spending. Trainer Mariam Sha, Managing Director of Awakening Excellence, said

that while leaders understand the value of training and, this does not prevent learning and development budgets from being among the first to be reduced in the event of cost-cutting. More CEOs are requesting facts and figures to prove the value of talent development initiatives. Thus, training managers need to consider post-programme evaluations as a critical inclusion. Masterclass participants were also introduced to the various models of ROI, and how they are calculated. Donald Kirkpatrick’s Levels Framework, for example, was originally designed specifically for evaluating training programmes.


It comprises of four measurement levels that take into account: the reaction of participants, what was learned, the behavioural change, and the value of that change. That last level is also known as the return on expectations (ROE), which Sha says is even more comprehensive than measuring ROI because it provides both qualitative and quantitative evidence of training impacts. Participants also learned about the ROI Methodology. This produces six sets of data, including business impact, financial ROI, and “intangible benefits”. Sha says organisations can even take selected elements from a range of ROI models and combine them into a new model that works for their needs.

I will be part of an upcoming hospital-wide Joint Commission International audit. I also hope to improve Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s results on the Singapore Ministry of Health’s Patient Satisfaction Survey, for which we came in third last year. I hope to be able to implement a framework of investment regarding training initiatives.

How did the content relate to your work?

Anthony Low Specialist,

HR People Development, Tan Tock Seng Hospital

The content covered return on investment (ROI) measurement, which is important to my work right now. So when we send staff for training, or even sponsor them for some scholarships, we have to ask ourselves how are they going to return the investment to the organisation. Tan Tock Seng is also a community-focused hospital with a Community Charity Fund. So the lessons from this Masterclass will ultimately be able to assist all employees to contribute back to the hospital as well as the community.

What was the biggest takeaway for you? Can you describe your role at Tan Tock Seng Hospital and what brought you to the Measuring ROI on Training and Development Masterclass? I’m a trainer at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where I conduct in-house staff training such as Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

52 MARCH 2017


The biggest takeaway was about the methodology being used, like the Kirkpatrick model, and on top of that the Phillips and Anderson models. I already knew about the Kirkpatrick model, but through today’s Masterclass, I now understand how it can be modified and complemented with elements from other models to suit my organisation’s needs.



EVENTS CALENDAR first and second quarters, 2017 Mar

1-2 Singapore Talent and Recruitment Show



3-4 HR Summit & Expo Asia 2017


13-14 Employment Law Congress

3 Social Media for HR Professionals Masterclass


e he

ill e

e on

15-16 HR Business Partner Congress

24-25 Employee Health & Wellness Congress

30-31 Strategic HR Business Partnering Masterclass MARCH 2017


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: to anonymously connect with the only career advice column exclusively for Asia’s HR community

Dear Laurence,

Dear Laurence,

I work in the internal training unit of one of the bigger banks in Singapore. I have just received my annual bonus and am quite disappointed. A large part of my compensation is variable but is tied to the bank’s overall performance, and not individual or team KPIs. I would jump ship, but the job market is looking shaky at best. Is there any other way I can let my bosses know that I feel ripped off and possibly revert to a larger proportion of fixed salary?

My small software developing company, where I work as an HR generalist, is being acquired by a larger Europe-based organisation and I have been invited to represent HR on a transition team. This should be a fantastic opportunity to showcase my skills to the new management, but I do have concerns about the number of local retrenchments currently being considered. Obviously, some cutbacks go hand in hand with a merger, but how can I advocate for my local team, while also presenting my best possible self to the new bosses?

Worth more than this, Singapore The way you phrase your question leads me to question your motivations for being with that company. If it’s all about the money then by all means, you should feel free to move on if you can. But first, I think you should stop to consider whether everybody has had to live with this reality this year, because the market really is that tough and the bank – despite your great efforts – has not done as well as hoped. If however you feel that you’ve been uniquely singled out for unfair treatment, then yes, you should raise the issue with your direct manager and with the head of compensation and benefits if necessary. And that should be dealt with properly and supported by an ombudsman if you have one. If however this is common across the bank, then I think you need to recognise that it has been a tough year for the organisation. They need good people to bring them out of that in 2017. Are you one of them?

understand the reason for the merger, the expected synergies, and how whatever you’re recommending will make the company better as a whole.

Dear Laurence, Thanks to a generous, forward-thinking employer, I am about to take some time off work on a sabbatical. While I am looking forward to the time away, I know I also need to keep up to date with HR and the profession. Aside from HRM Asia, are there other resources you can recommend to help me stay connected?

Tough situation, Jakarta Time to recharge, Singapore The win-win in this situation is to really understand the strategic motivation behind this merger and the expected benefits and synergies. You need to really understand this. Then, and only then, can you do the best for the organisation, the local team, and yourself. While some of that may be difficult, you also have to be realistic. It is a business at the end of the day, but I also fundamentally believe that it is the responsibility of the business to treat people well. If you understand the context, then you can build a business case which demonstrates the value and benefits of keeping more of your local team, reskilling some of them into different roles, or of maintaining your market reputation by helping people migrate to opportunities outside. You can’t just advocate for local employees in a vacuum. You need to

It’s great that you have the time to recharge. But also take some time go to some of the networking events you are of normally too busy to go to. Join a local HR Association, or go to some of the HR committee meetings of the different Chambers of Commerce. There’s a very rich vibrant HR networking and learning community here in Singapore and also in other centres of Asia that you may visit. Do you have a couple of mentors that you can have lunch with on a quarterly basis? They should be guiding you on this journey. A key thing on a sabbatical is rethinking what is your journey, and what is your purpose. Where do you want to get to when you get back, and therefore what are you doing in the meantime to realise those goals?

Laurence Smith is a board-level advisor to 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.

54 MARCH 2017


RGF HR Agent Singapore Pte Ltd EA Licence No. 10C2978

Opportunities for Life Learning & Development Manager

HR Operations Manager, Singapore

• Regional role • Sound HRD knowledge

• Fast-growing technology player • Highly operational and challenging role

With its APAC regional headquarters based in Singapore, our client is a leader in precision engineering. They are seeking a dynamic Learning & Development Manager to join the HR team.

A fast-growing technology player in the region, our client has an immediate requirement for a consummate and dynamic HR professional to lead their Singapore HR Operations team.

You would be responsible for formulating plans and training needs to achieve maximum performance improvement and ROI impact. As the regional subject matter expert, you will drive learning programs/ projects/ initiatives to create a competency-based learning culture and a motivated workforce. You will deploy Learning Management System (LMS) and launch L&D curriculum with e-learning web courses; evaluate training effectiveness and recommend improvements. Other responsibilities include driving OD projects like workforce transformation training and improve competency of Training Centers in Asia.

Reporting to Regional Head of HR, you are responsible for managing Singapore HR operation team in the full gamut of HR deliverables such as and not limited to recruitment, payroll, Compensation & Benefits, performance management, HRIS, engagement, Learning & Development. As an advisor to business leaders and management, you will counsel and recommend solutions to employee issues and HR strategies.

You will be an experienced HR professional from a matrix, MNC environment, preferably within manufacturing. You will be a graduate in HRM and has at least 8+ years of L&D experience and sound knowledge of e-learning strategies. You should be familiar with design and delivery of training programs with strong presentation, coaching and communications skills.

You would be degree qualified with minimum 10 years professional HR experience including 5 years managerial capacity within MNCs. You have solid knowledge of local legislation, sound HR management skills, possess strong leadership & communication skills with experience managing different levels of individuals with coaching, influencing and conflict management skills.

To submit your application, please email your resume in word format to Li Li Kang at or Audrey Chong at

To submit your application, please email your resume in word format to Maureen Ho at or Audrey Chong at

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 50 years, RGB 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 45 locations across 26 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


• Regional role with a Global Retail brand • Excellent career development opportunities across the group with internal mobility Our client is a European MNC, a market leader in high fashion with a own store and franchise model in the region This role is the HR business partner for South-east Asia Pacific and is responsible for handling all employee relations, facilitating learning & development, Talent mapping & development, vendor management and managing Senior Recruitment. The successful candidate comes with a strong business partnering mindset and ability to work in a very fast paced and flat structure. Strong interpersonal skills to deal with rank & file and ability to manage regional stakeholders would be key. You come with background in Retail or FMCG industries and have excellent communication skills

Reference number: NC/JD485914 Contact person: Niharika Chaturvedi (Registration Number R1104291)

HR Business Partner (SEA)

Director, HR Total Rewards (Asia)

• To develop and grow the business in SEA • Strategic HR partner to develop and drive new initiatives customized for the region • Be part of an established key player of the manufacturing industry

• Established Manufacturing MNC • Optimize and integrate Total Rewards strategies for the region • Strong employer branding with global mobility opportunities

Our client is one of the leading Industrial MNC has built a strong presence in Asia Pacific while it continues to develop further in the SEA region. They are currently seeking to hire a seasoned HR Business Partner achieving its objectives and fuel long-term growth.

Our client is an esteemed Manufacturing MNC and prides itself as a global market leader in its field. They are currently seeking an experienced Total Rewards professional to lead up the Compensation and Benefits CoE in Asia.

In this highly matrixed reporting structure and you will partner closely with senior business leaders and HR counterparts, taking a strategic and yet hands-on approach to develop and strengthen HR processes as well as technical capabilities. You will take ownership of all HR matters for the region, driving initiatives and ensuring capability development.

In this role, you will ensure a robust Compensation & Benefits structure across the business for the region. You will gather and analyze workforce information, trends and benchmarking data that will identify Total Rewards issues and areas for improvement. You will review, integrate and develop compensation programmes for the region such as compensation reviews, job evaluations, salary benchmarking and benefits review.

The successful candidate is an impact-driven HR professional of high strategic calibre and strong exposure to robust HR processes and OD concepts. You will have demonstrated excellent stakeholder management skills, and have proven success around implementing and executing change and initiatives.

The successful candidate will have demonstrated a strong track record around compensation and benefits strategies, has strong analytical skills, is process-driven and has strong communications skills.

Reference number: CC/JD485875 Contact person: Celestine Chia (Registration Number R1442191)

Reference number: CC/JD484350 Contact person: Celestine Chia (Registration Number R1442191)


Sr. HR Manager - Retail

Your Human Resources recruitment specialists To apply, please go to 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.

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

MARCH 2017



Headquartered in Singapore since 2003, Kerry Consulting is Singapore’s leading Search & Selection firm. Our consulting team is the most experienced, and amongst the largest, in the ASEAN region.

We offer positions in the following sectors: Banking & Financial Services Commerce Finance Energy & Commodities Engineering & Supply Chain Healthcare & Life Sciences Human Resources Legal Sales & Marketing Technology

56 MARCH 2017


O w e a s t y f a e d s l Y a d R q r d p d c c s y b t a f m o T a t t b

R | Returning the Human to Resourcing

Regional HR Director, SEA

Recruiting Manager, Singapore

Luxury Industry HR Business Partnering

Health & Consumer Industry Country Role Fast-paced Environment

SEA Regional Coverage Our client is the world leading conglomerate within the luxury industry and has a highly established Asia HQ in Singapore. There is now an opportunity for a Regional HR Director to support the SEA region. As a trusted advisor to the regional business leaders and stakeholders, you will be responsible for the full spectrum of HR functions, including talent strategy, acquisition and management, compensation and benefits, employee engagement and learning and development. You will work closely with regional senior business leaders on regional HR matters, leadership style and fostering a positive culture. You will be a strong business partner with the ability to manage business stakeholders with a diverse background. Reporting to the Head of HR (APAC), you are HR qualified with a minimum 12 to 15 years of relevant experience gained in a fast paced and dynamic environment. Prior background in professional services/FMCG industries will be desirable. You are passionate with your work, commercially oriented and possess strong communication, influencing and presentation skills. A self-starter who works well independently, you are able to articulate to all business levels and build strong rapport with internal clients. You have the drive for excellence and are flexible in your approach. You will manage a small team in fulfilling these responsibilities as well as build meaningful stakeholder relationships at all levels of seniorities. To apply, please submit your resume to Joy Seow at, quoting the job title and reference number JS11507. We regret that only successfully shortlisted applicants will be contacted.

This is a leading MNC within the Health & Consumer industry. They are looking to hire for a Recruiting Manager to support their Singapore business. Reporting to the Talent Acquisition Director, you will manage the full talent acquisition life cycle including sourcing, screening, selection and on boarding. As a Talent Advisor, you will partner with hiring managers to build effective sourcing, assessment, and closing approaches with an ability to manage expectations. You will be instrumental to standardize the recruitment process and work closely with the business leaders on recruitment strategies, employee branding and retention. You will be driving numerous campus recruitment activities including career fairs and recruitment for internship across the key local universities.

Reg No: R1107886

Reg No: R1107886

Regional Talent Acquisition Specialist - Leading IT MNC Established IT MNC Regional scope Excellent career platform We are representing a progressive IT organisation, 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 recruitment 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 IT industry is a plus.

You will be an experienced HR Professional with a minimum of 8 years of demonstrated successful recruiting experience for a variety of positions across all functions including commercial and corporate. You will have experience in managing the full recruiting cycle and have 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. In addition, you will have experience using Applicant Tracking System (ATS) such as Taleo or Success Factor. Ideally, you would have past success leveraging social media platforms to build candidate pipelines. To apply, please submit your resume to Joy Seow at, quoting the job title and reference number JS11368. We regret that only shortlisted candidates will be notified.

HR Manager, SEA Regional portfolio Retail Industry Strong HR Operations This is a leading European Organisation within the Retail industry. Reporting directly to the Regional HR Director, you will be responsible as a HR Business Partner supporting the Commercial business unit by providing professional HR services. Business partnering will be key including performance management, C&B, talent acquisition and HR operations. You will be tasked with regional HR projects to support the Regional HR Director. You will be degree qualified in Human Resource or relevant discipline with a minimum of 8 years of HR generalist background. You will have strong interpersonal skills to build rapport across all levels, demonstrate leadership abilities, and display a partnering mentality. Ideally, you will have been in a HR generalist position for at least 7 years. Experience working in a MNC organisation within the FMCG or Retail industries will be an advantage.

To apply, please submit your resume to Finian Toh at, quoting the job title and reference number. We regret that only successfully shortlisted applicants will be contacted.

To apply, please submit your resume to Joy Seow at, quoting the job title and the reference number of JS11543. We regret that only successfully shortlisted applicants will be contacted.

Reg No: 16S8060

Reg No: R1107886

HRBP - Prominent Commodities Trading MNC Global MNC environment Regional Exposure Dynamic work environment This is a growing commodities trading organisation with plans to expand in APAC. We are thrilled to be partnering with this organisation to assist in identifying a Regional HR Business Partner for South East Asia + ANZ. Due to expansion plans, the organisation now needs top HR talent to support the current growth. The role will report to the HR Director (based in Singapore), and will execute HR initiatives throughout the region. This will include acting as a Business Partner from a strategic standpoint to countries’ business heads (6 in total) and support the business growth from a HR perspective, as well as handling some operational responsibilities. We are looking for an experienced and driven individual with strong stakeholder management skills who have worked in fast-paced environments and is prepared to ‘roll up your sleeves’ while advising on HR strategies to drive business growth. The successful candidate should have the gravitas to influence the business in a commercial sense. To apply, please submit your resume to Finian Toh at, quoting the job title and reference number. We regret that only successfully shortlisted applicants will be contacted. Reg No: 16S8060

Global Pharmaceutical Organisation Global MNC (located in West Singapore) Excellent career development Competitive remuneration This is a leading multinational with a significant global footprint. With a strong global presence and a R&D outfit in Singapore, they are looking for a dynamic Senior HR Executive to meet the increasingly complex demands of a global organization. Reporting to the Global Head of HR, you will be responsible for the full spectrum of HR operations, across recruitment, compensation and training coordination. You will assist with payroll validation and verification. You will also be the point of contact for HR, addressing the day-to-day needs of the employees. Supporting the company’s operations, this role will provide business partnering support and consulting to the line managers on aspects such as talent management, compensation & benefits, employee relations, etc. You can be expected to partake in strategic HR initiatives as well as involved in operational day to day matters for the operations. You will have at least 5 years of HR experience, in a generalist role. You will have strong MNC experience and be comfortable operating in a matrix environment. You will have solid communication skills with a passion for employee engagement. Payroll experience would be a bonus. To apply, please submit your resume to Finian Toh at, quoting the job title and reference number. We regret that only successfully shortlisted applicants will be contacted. Reg No: 16S8060

MARCH 2017



Senior Recruitment Manager (FS)

A US multinational organisation within the Aerospace industry is focusing on growing its operations in the APAC region over the next two to three years. An exciting and unique opportunity has been created for an HR Director to lead the APAC region, working with the CEO and leadership team to grow the business, aligning people practices whilst driving key HR initiatives and processes. This role will provide direct input into the overall HR strategy for the organisation.

This leading Global Investment MNC is currently seeking an experienced Recruitment Manager to lead a large team within an RPO model. You will be responsible for the strategic and successful management of all recruitment activities across the region ensuring the business is maximising opportunities and maintaining an effective partnership with stakeholders. Reporting to the Account Director, you will be involved in establishing and developing key client relationships and developing and driving a high performance team.

Contact Ash Russell (Reg ID. R1109296) at or call +65 6303 0721.

HR Business Partner (FMCG) This leading global F&B organisation due to an expansion, are looking for a Regional HR Business Partner/Talent Acquisition to run the HR function in the APAC region. As this is a new role, you will be expected to strategise and align business objectives by acting as a consultant between HR and senior management. There will be a heavy focus on recruitment and you will be expected to run the end-to-end hiring requirements of the corporate office. Contact Ash Russell (Reg ID. R1109296) at or call +65 6303 0721.

EA License Number: 07C3924

58 MARCH 2017


Contact Ash Russell (Reg ID. R1109296) at or call +65 6303 0721.

Regional L&D Manager (Pharmaceutical) Following an M&A, this global pharmaceutical company is expanding its operations in APAC. Reporting into the Global Head based in the United States, you will be responsible for providing learning and development solutions to the business. The role will be full spectrum, from identifying needs in close partnership with business heads, in order to strengthen the company’s competitive advantage and enrich their internal talent. Contact Ash Russell (Reg ID. R1109296) at or call +65 6303 0721

Singapore & South East Asia

Hong Kong & North Asia

HR Roles in Asia Regional HR Manager - Hong Kong

Our client is a reputable and well-established law firm with a network of international offices. A rare opportunity has arisen for a Senior HR BP/Regional HR Manager to join the Asia region business in a role that will lead HR across China, Hong Kong & Singapore focusing on both the strategic and operational aspects of HR.

Consultant in-charge: Michelle Jackson Sean Tong | Head of Asia E:

Michelle Jackson | Head of North Asia E:

Learning & Development Manager – Hong Kong

Our client is an established law firm that is looking to hire a Learning & Development Manager to support professional staff in the Hong Kong office. The role will report into and work closely with the firm’s Professional Standards and Development Partner.

Consultant in-charge: Michelle Jackson

Head of Talent Acquisition, APAC - Singapore

Headquartered out of Europe, our client seeks to improve and transform healthcare with their unrivalled product range. They are investing heavily globally and are looking to recruit a high calibre Talent Acquisition Director to enable them to identify and develop talent in APAC region.

Eugene Wong | Associate Director E:

Charlie Jiang | Consultant E:

Consultant in-charge: Eugene Wong

Organisational Design & Effectiveness Leader, APAC - Singapore

Our client is a renowned global leader in the Pharmaceutical industry with a strong footprint in Asia Pac. As part of its ongoing commitment to growing the business, they are now looking to recruit a high-calibre HR professional to lead its Organisational Design & Effectiveness programs in APAC.

Consultant in-charge: Sean Tong

Group HR Manager - Singapore Sheldon Toh | Senior Consultant E:

Jackson Chan | Associate Consultant E:

Our client is a leading property developer across the residential, commercial, industrial and hospitality space with $3.4 billion worth of revenue and over 4000 employees worldwide. Due to strong business performance and overseas expansion, they are now looking for a Group HR Manager who is well versed in Employment Law across multiple countries.

Senior HR Business Partner – Singapore

Consultant in-charge: Diah Fawnia

Our client is a renowned global player in the automotive-related industry and they have been focusing their resources to further build in Asia. As part of their business expansion plans, they are looking for a business minded HRBP who has background in manufacturing-related environments to tackle the issue arising within the region.

Consultant in-charge: Sheldon Toh PART OF THE SR GROUP

Diah Fawnia | Consultant E:



Brewer Morris | Carter Murray | Frazer Jones | SR Search | Taylor Root UK | EUROPE | MIDDLE EAST | Asia | AUSTRALIA | OFFSHORE | usa EA Licence No: 49641

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MARCH 2017


60 MARCH 2017


MARCH 2017


HRM-ASIA-Mar-AD-V2.pdf 1 16/2/2017 10:35:37 AM


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