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July 2016

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Why Edrington’s Ilja Rijnen believes a sense of purpose is the magnet to retaining top talent.

July 2016 « CONTENTS


Ilja Rijnen, regional HR director for Asia Pacific and India at Edrington, reveals the strategies behind aligning a global HR agenda with the needs of the local and regional business, and the value of enabling employees to work with a purpose.

Features 18 Relocation and mobility

Aditi Sharma Kalra reaches out to mobility leaders across Asia – Avery Dennison in Hong Kong, ABB in Malaysia, and National Australia Bank in Singapore – to identify the state and drivers of their employee mobility strategies.

24 The ultimate guide to hiring older workers as mentors

Amid a rapidly ageing population, Jerene Ang looks into how organisations can tap into the experience of mature workers.



30 Event update An exclusive peek into what 50 of Asia’s senior HR leaders discussed in three days in Phuket, reported by Aditi Sharma Kalra.

ON THE COVER: Art Direction: Shahrom Kamarulzaman; Photography: Elliot Lee, Nikon Ambassador (Singapore) –

34 Learning & Development

Magesvaran Suranjan, president of Asia Pacific at Procter & Gamble and Lynette Yong, HR manager at P&G Singapore Pioneer Plant, shed light on how the firm achieved gender diversity at its Singapore water purifying plant.

40 Last Word



Aditi Sharma Kalra sums up the top HR and leadership lessons she has gleaned from popular TV shows.

Regulars 3 Ed’s note 4 In the news 6 Snapshot 8 Spacial awareness


10 HR by numbers 36 Shelf life 38 Personal growth


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Rewriting the rules In recent conversations with industry colleagues, the evolving business environment has dominated discussions more than usual. Interestingly though, the emphasis changed from the implications and issues around a tight labour market to issues such as reward and retention of key performers, and the importance of being creative, yet flexible, in our approaches to talent management. One of the labour issues that could use a fresh look is the management of mature workers in Asia, where they are expected to account for about 17% of the population by 2030. To combat shortage of talent as these mature workers go into retirement, we look at how organisations can rehire these mature workers and tap on their experience, this month. Companies such as Maybank, Mitsubishi, and MAN Diesel & Turbo are taking conscious steps to allocate specific roles to mature workers. For example, Maybank allocates seniors the role of “emeritus mentor”. Rather than keeping knowledge to themselves, which is a concern for employers, Maybank has put their knowledge to good use by directing their efforts towards external stakeholders. To that end, the upcoming HR Excellence Awards, organised by Human Resources, has devoted a category to “Excellence in Mature Workforce Programmes”, among the 24 award categories announced this year. Entries to the awards are now open across Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia, and we recommend you submit your stories from the past year. On the cover for this edition is Ilja Rijnen, regional HR director for Asia Pacific and India at Edrington, the parent company of some of the world’s best known premium spirits such as Macallan and The Famous Grouse. The way HR works at Edrington is that HR goes beyond business partner, to a “performance partner”, Rijnen shared with us. “The whole point of doing this is to ensure HR isn’t at the end of the proverbial chain, but at the start of it, when commercial decisions are being made. This will help HR to think what those decisions will mean for our talent or reward strategy and their impact.”

The emphasis on “purpose” rings loud in the firm’s employer branding, where giving back to the community is a large part of the agenda. Apart from the more than SG$900,000 in donations in this region in 2014/15, the company completed a 450km fundraising bike ride from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. This focus on social impact, Rijnen explained, was good for the company in more ways than one. “Giving back to our communities is, in fact, part of our DNA and in our engagement plans. There is always a purpose behind everything that we do, and that is a magnet to keep our employees in the company.” Head over to page 14 for that idea-packed conversation. From here, the Human Resources team dives straight into our annual C&B conference, Employee Benefits Asia, hosted across six days in Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. We would love to meet you at the conference, but if you can’t make it follow all the action live on Twitter at #EBA2016. What’s the next rule HR leaders will try to rewrite? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter @mag_HR. Enjoy the issue.

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Aditi Sharma Kalra Regional editor July 2016 « Human Resources «



News from


To strengthen support for retrenched workers, the tripartite partners – Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) and National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) – have revised the Tripartite guidelines on “managing excess manpower and responsible retrenchment”. Before laying off workers, employers are urged to consider other cost saving measures such as redeployment, alternative work arrangements and flexible wage systems. The guidelines recognise the need for some companies to implement more severe cost-cutting measures such as no pay leave. However, it noted that when implementing no pay leave, companies should have already considered other measures, and if unionised, should have already consulted workers and unions. During the no pay leave period, companies are encouraged to send affected workers to training. If retrenchment is inevitable, the selection for retrenchment should be based on objective criteria and unions should be consulted as early as possible. Communication to employees affected should also be done early – before the public notice – and employees should be given time to look for alternative arrangements. Additionally, all salaries due and retrenchment benefits should be paid to the affected employees by the last day of work.


DBS Bank has refuted “misleading statements circulating on social media” about hiring plans for its new technology hub in Hyderabad, as reported in an article by The Straits Times. The bank clarified the new hub would not result in 1,500 jobs being relocated from Singapore; referring to a report in The Independent, which said the bank was outsourcing 1,500 jobs to India. DBS explained the error made by The Independent likely arose after the bank’s announcement it was setting up a technology hub in Hyderabad, which would be its biggest outside of Singapore. The bank had added it planned to recruit 1,500 people for the Indian facility over the next two years. A DBS spokesperson told Human Resources the bank “is not relocating its existing tech operations to another location, nor does it have such plans”. “The DBS Asia hub in Changi Business Park continues to be the group’s largest tech hub anywhere in the world, supporting its digital strategy. The new tech centre in Hyderabad is an addition to DBS’ operations as the bank expands.”


Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) has unveiled eight new infocomm technology (ICT) professional conversion programmes (PCPs), aimed to help professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) reskill for new job roles in the same sector or mid-career switchers looking for a career move. This makes a total of 10 ICT PCPs available to 250 PMET job seekers and mid-career switchers in 2016, announced the Minister for Manpower, Lim Swee Say. Human Resources attended the inaugural Adapt and Grow ICT Career Fair, where the minister unveiled the new programmes. “Singaporean PMETs who are interested in moving to infocomm in these 10 job areas can do so even if they don’t have the direct expertise in them. With the support of the WDA and the employers, they can join the PCP, be funded under the PCP to move into these areas,” he said. The PCPs will be available in areas of growing demand such as cyber security, business intelligence and software development. These threeto-nine-month programmes operate under the “place-and-train” mode where participating companies employ the trainees before they go through classroom and structured on-thejob training.


» Human Resources » July 2016


Singapore’s government has reiterated its commitment to support local workers to learn new skills. At his May Day rally speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong revealed that under the NTUC-Education and Training Fund, the government would match S$3 – up to S$150 million – for every S$1 the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) raised. The total S$200 million fund will be used to generate subsidies for skills-upgrading courses tailored for working adults provided by institutes of higher learning partners, starting with the Nanyang Technological University. Lee urged employers to take full advantage of the schemes the government and local unions were implementing. “What you need are the skills and the fit. The government is helping to train those workers to have the skills and to make the fit for the jobs which the companies have,” he said. “So the message to the companies, please give a chance to these workers, especially those who are changing jobs. Their knowledge may not be specific to the industry or to the company, but they have developed other useful skills.”



One in three (33%) of 163 global mobility leaders from organisations such as AbbVie, Bayer and Cipla, say mobility assignments fail because of familyrelated issues. Poor candidate selection (18%) and an inability to adapt to the host location (18%) were the next two factors most commonly responsible for assignments not going as planned. However, among Asia Pacific-based respondents, the second most common barrier to assignment success was compensation-related dissatisfaction (18%). The new 2016 trends survey by Brookfield Global Relocation Services also points to job expectations not being met (10%) and security and safety concerns (10%) as other reasons cited for assignment failure among APAC respondents. The report uncovered another possible reason for assignment failure – more than two in three APAC respondents don’t document the objectives expected from a mobility assignment (67%), similar to a global average of 62%. The reasons for this? No process in place, admitted the mobility managers (67%), while 33% simply didn’t consider this step important enough.


It doesn’t take much for Millennial staff to quit their jobs and join other firms – so why aren’t bosses doing more to retain their young employees? For example, many employers are missing the mark when it comes to recognising and rewarding Millennial employees. This is according to a new study by Aon Hewitt and O.C. Tanner, which polled more than 470 employers across five countries to examine the strategy, vehicles and effectiveness of their recognition programmes. According to the findings, 23% of firms stated their recognition strategies are ineffective for Millennial workers, the highest among all generations in the workforce. Almost one in five (16%) of firms stated their recognition strategies for the Silent Generation (those born before 1946) were unsatisfactory. This was only slightly higher for recognition programmes catered for Baby Boomers and members of Generation X – 14% of firms stated such plans were ineffective. To make things worse, the survey added that Millennial workers agreed their employer’s recognition programmes were unsatisfying.

Following reports the currently optional second week of paternity leave will be made compulsory for all employers in Singapore, the government is now offering reimbursement for bosses whose staff took the extra week of paternity leave last year. The nation’s Child Development Co-savings Act was amended in parliament to support active fatherhood, and children of single unwed parents. “To encourage fathers to spend more time with their children from birth, employers and self-employed individuals, who voluntarily exercise the option to grant to employees/take a second week of paternity leave respectively, will be reimbursed by the government for this additional week of leave granted/taken,” the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) stated. The amendments allow employers and the self-employed to seek reimbursement from 1 July 2016. MSF added that depending on eligibility, the second week of paternity leave may be taken, effective 24 August 2015.


Perhaps because of rising living costs or they simply haven’t given a thought to retirement, a majority of Millennials are expecting to work longer than the generations before them. According to a global study on 19,000 Millennials by ManpowerGroup, about a third (33%) are expecting to work until 65-69 and about a quarter (23%) expect to work until 60-64. Shockingly, 12% of Millennials globally are expecting to work until they die. That percentage increased to 14% in Singapore and 37% in Japan. The study found that not only are Millennials expecting to work well into their golden years, they are also working as hard, if not harder, than other generations. Globally, 73% of respondents reported working more than 40 hours a week with those in Singapore, China and Mexico averaging 48 hours a week and those in India averaging 52 hours. More than four in five (84%) of respondents foresee significant breaks along their working lives, indicating that career waves might be replacing the career ladders of the previous generations.

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July 2016 « Human Resources «



15 minutes with ...

Patti Clifford

Chief talent officer Havas Group WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST HR JOB AND WHY DID YOU CHOOSE HR AS A PROFESSION? The reality is that HR chose me. Although I was always interested in the environmental and cultural aspects of an organisation and how that could impact performance, I was not on an HR “track”. I was tapped to work on a cultural transformation that was at the centre of a new strategy. The role reported to the CEO and I worked with him and the senior leadership team on implementing a vision, values and a variety of talent management tools. Because I was very successful in leading the cultural transformation, I was selected to go straight into a CHRO role. The CEO and board put a premium on my knowledge in driving the culture and knew I could learn the rest of the core HR functions – which I eventually did. AS A CHIEF TALENT OFFICER LEADING A LARGE GLOBAL ORGANISATION, WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE MOST INTEGRAL PART OF YOUR JOB? Understanding the business, being connected to the people, clearly communicating and executing a plan are essential to being a successful chief talent officer and chief human resources officer. WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE SOME OF THE MOST CRITICAL AND BIGGEST TALENT CHALLENGES COMPANIES ACROSS ASIA ARE FACING TODAY? Many markets in Asia are evolving rapidly and with that, the focus on talent has become more central to business strategies. There are some common areas that we see as essential to be competitive in the marketplace – a strong employer brand, a clearly defined culture as well as ensuring training/development opportunities are robust and communicated. There are two workforce dynamics that I think also pose as both challenges and opportunities in Asia – the rising prominence of women in the workplace and the influx of youth into the workforce. Both are pushing some cultures that are deep in tradition to evolve and change. HOW DO YOU THINK CHIEF TALENT OFFICERS AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICERS OF LARGE ORGANISATIONS CAN WORK TOGETHER TO ENSURE A SMOOTHER AND A MORE PRODUCTIVE INTERACTION AMONG THEMSELVES? The HR/talent function not only needs to work collaboratively with the entire leadership team, but also operate as a key advisor to the CEO. They should be ensuring the CEO has a talent strategy at the core of business discussions and decisions. Ideally, they should be making sure the topic of talent gets as much time on the business agenda as revenue. WHAT SKILLS SHOULD CHROS AND CTOS HAVE TODAY TO BE SUCCESSFUL? I think it’s becoming more and more important for HR leaders to have


» Human Resources » July 2016

“Given the prominence of mobile in China, India and Southeast Asia and other technology advances, I think Asia will innovate more quickly with respect to how recruitment, talent management, recognition, etc, take place.” broad business skills as their foundation. Those skills work to complement other specialty HR skills. The function has moved from fairly reactive to one that requires proactive leadership. CHROs and CTOs need to be strategic and have the ability to build talent strategies that integrate with the business strategy. They need to be strong communicators who are able to interface with all levels in the organisation as well as great influencers who keep the talent agenda front and centre and with good momentum. It’s an exciting time for the role as there are more and more opportunities to try new approaches and learn from them. HOW DO YOU THINK HR PRACTICES AND PRIORITIES ARE DIFFERENT IN ASIA COMPARED WITH OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD? In Asia, the HR function is increasing in importance and getting more attention from management teams. It’s moving from an administrative team focused on “hiring and firing” to being a true partner to the business. Given the prominence of mobile in China, India and Southeast Asia and other technology advances, I think Asia will innovate more quickly with respect to how recruitment, talent management, recognition, etc, take place. WHAT IS THE BEST CAREER ADVICE YOU HAVE RECEIVED? “Balance how much emotional equity you put into work.” When you are passionate about what you do, it can become allconsuming and you have to be disciplined about ensuring that it doesn’t drain you to the point that you don’t have enough left over for the people and passions you have outside of work. HOW DO YOU THINK HR WILL EVOLVE OVER THE NEXT FIVE TO 10 YEARS OR SO? I think we’ll see a change in the organisation of HR – possibly new roles around social, data, culture, remote workforce, etc, with more of the basic blocking and tackling being outsourced. I only see good things for the function as long as we keep innovating and challenging the traditional ways of doing things. COMPLETE THE SENTENCE: I CANNOT IMAGINE HR WITHOUT … all the passionate people in the function who show up every day making a difference for employees.


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WORK LIFE » People


A MINI-CITY FOR EMPLOYEES AT MARINA BAY SANDS Having opened only five years ago, Marina Bay Sands’ primary objective at the time was to get operations up and running, along with the responsibility of setting up a comfortable work space for a diverse pool of more than 9,500 employees. Chan Yit Foon, senior vice-president of HR for Marina Bay Sands (MBS), explained: “From front-of-house staff such as housekeeping, security and hotel operations to corporate offices like finance and HR, we had to create an environment that was comfortable, conducive and inspiring. We created a minicity tucked underneath our mega integrated resort complex.” MBS’ core workspace, called the Heart-of-House, is an extensive area with offices, kitchens, meeting rooms, lockers, uniform rooms and staff rest areas. To make it more than just a workspace, it is equipped with a 24-hour convenience store, AXS machines, ATMs, healthcare centre and a staff concierge desk. Departments also leverage the space for various purposes such as recruiting team members for social and sports activities, food collection for the needy, participation in sports clubs and campaigns such as health and safety. Complementing these facilities is what Chan describes as “the jewel in our mini-city” – the team member dining rooms, where sumptuous meals are provided complimentary to staff. “At our two 24/7 team member dining rooms, we serve close to 8,000 restaurant-quality hot meals every day. Providing Western, Chinese and Malay cuisine, the menus change daily, with special dishes served every Friday and during festivals.” At a labour-intensive organisation where most employees are on shifts without designated office desks, these dining rooms serve as more than just a place to dine, but as a space for team members to socialise and relax. Staff also enjoy free social activities such as movie screenings, health workshops and exercise classes. Alongside, the employee-only rewards programme provides discounts at its restaurants, retail stores, museum exhibitions and more. In line with constantly asking staff for feedback to identify areas of improvement, MBS started the first phase of refurbishment of its changing rooms in 2015, upgrading the rooms to spa-standard facilities, such as individual changing rooms, a rest area complete with beds, rain showers and more.


» Human Resources » July 2016

“We have just started upgrading the women’s changing rooms and hope to complete the full refurbishment of all changing rooms very soon.” Alongside, a company-wide office revamp commenced in 2015 where each department was given some guiding principles and encouraged to devise their office space and layout. “Besides better utilisation of space, departments are now ‘right-situated’,” Chan says. “A good example is the marketing department. Now, divisions such as brand and advertising, e-commerce, creative services, and destination marketing are housed in the same space, facilitating open communication.” The new office has a bright colour scheme, lowered cubicle walls and an open meeting space that encourages team huddles and brainstorming. Beyond the physical workspace, the resort invested in organising activities to strengthen the sense of belonging, an example of which was the hosting of Asia’s Got Talent at its MasterCard Theatres. “We organised an internal staff talent contest and invited the show’s judges – David Foster, Anggun, Vanness Wu and Mel C – to judge our employee talent contest,” Chan says. In conclusion, Chan points out: “Every company’s business objectives and human capital strategy are different. Besides investing in sprucing up the physical space, look at what excites or motivates your employee and what resources you can creatively tap on to achieve this.”


WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO ORCHESTRATE SUCCESSFUL CHANGE? With so many change models out there to follow, why is organisational change still so difficult? Why do some efforts succeed and similar efforts fail? The Center for Creative Leadership recently set out to answer these questions. Our researchers asked 148 leaders about a change they had successfully navigated in the past 12 to 18 months. We then worked with 127 other leaders and asked them about an unsuccessful change effort they were involved in within the same time frame. The three Cs of change – propelling successful change Through our analysis, three themes emerged most frequently from the behaviours and actions described by these leaders, suggesting they are critical to leading successful change. We refer to them as the three Cs of change: communicate, collaborate and commit. The descriptions of these particular competencies revealed intentionality behind these leaders’ ambitions and a purposeful focus on mindset. This cluster represents the glue for all change efforts, holding together the process and the ways a leader connects with others. Communicate – knowing what to say and how to say it to build and sustain commitment to the change While unsuccessful leaders had a tendency to focus on the what behind the change, successful leaders focused on communicating the what and the why behind the change. The why is critical and focuses on the purpose behind the change effort. Leaders who connected the change to the values of the organisation or explained the benefits behind the change were more successful at achieving buy-in and creating a sense of urgency, both of which contribute to successful change outcomes. They determined the most important message, shared it more widely, more frequently, and with candour. Collaborate – bringing people together to plan and execute the change Leaders of successful change built teams, worked across boundaries and encouraged employees to take on responsibilities and tackle challenges. They also encouraged employees to break out of their individual silos, refused to tolerate competition, and included their employees in creating solutions and ideas on implementing the change. These leaders included employees early on in the decision-making process, and described employees as having a high level of buy-in and can-do attitudes. Leaders of unsuccessful change lamented they didn’t include employees early or often enough in the initial stages of the change effort. Commit – changing yourself in service of the change goal Changing yourself means recognising when your beliefs, approaches and behaviours need to shift based on the effort you are leading. One of the frequently mentioned approaches shared by leaders of successful change was displaying a positive attitude and enthusiasm towards the change. These leaders were resilient, didn’t give up in the face of adversity or opposition, and stepped out of their comfort zone. They became role models to the rest of the organisation with their ambition, efficiency and positive mindset. These leaders also devoted more time to the change effort and focused on the big picture rather than the day-to-day needs. On the other hand, leaders of unsuccessful change didn’t adapt and instead expressed negativity and were impatience with a lack of results.

The three Cs of change are part of the nine change competencies identified in the research. To read more about the competencies and the derailers to look out for, download the complimentary white paper – Change-Capable Leadership: The Real Power Propelling Successful Change – by Shannon Bendixen, Michael Campbell, Corey Criswell and Roland Smith at

This article is contributed by Dr. Roland B. Smith, SVP and MD, APAC, Center for Creative Leadership

Dr. Roland B. Smith is the senior vice-president and managing director for the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) in Asia and an accomplished author with Talent Conversations: What They Are, Why They’re Crucial, and How To Do Them Right and Influence. In his role as a senior business leader as well as a leading faculty for the exclusive Leadership At The Peak programme for the C-Suite, Roland has been heavily involved with initiatives around global talent, global senior executive engagement, high performing teams as well as notable research on the paradoxes of leadership development in Asia, India and South Africa, in addition to guiding CCL’s regional strategy and operations in Asia Pacific.

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July 2016 « Human Resources «


WORK LIFE » HR by numbers

The best paying sectors in Singapore IT, accounting, sales and marketing, banking and finance, and healthcare and life sciences – these five sectors have some of the highest paying jobs in Singapore this year, according to the Kelly Singapore 2016 salary guide. Technology heads are expected to command between S$13,000 and S$24,000 a month, partially attributed to the government’s S$120 million budget for the training of infocomm professionals. CFOs are expected to take home in the range of S$10,000 to S$20,000 while general managers of sales and marketing at SMEs also have a positive outlook in the range of S$10,000 to S$18,000. (All figures in SG$).


is what the general manager’s role in sales and marketing at an SME is expected to command, starting at about S$10,000 a month.

CFOs are expected to take home in the range of S$10,000 to

S$20,000 Source: Kelly Singapore 2016 Salary Guide.

10 » Human Resources » July 2016


and risk roles at the vice-president level are pegged between S$10,000 to S$17,000, while financial technology developers are in the range of S$7,500 and S$12,000.


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Singapore – It’s little wonder that the Singapore government is stepping up its efforts to boost an active lifestyle among local professionals. This is mainly because the lifestyle habits of working men and women in Singapore are, perhaps, leaving much to be desired. In fact, the recent “Nutrition At Work” survey by Herbalife revealed that 29% of local professionals are taking their lunch breaks at their desks four to five times a week. This percentage was almost twice the Asia Pacific average (15%). Comparatively, 34% of Hong Kong professionals stated they eat at their desk four to five times a week, while respondents in Malaysia followed at 22%.

Indonesia had the highest number of workers eating at their desks, with 71% having lunch at their desk two to five times per week. The survey, which polled 5,500 full-time workers across 11 Asia Pacific markets, highlighted women in Singapore specifically, have lunch more often at their desks as compared with their male counterparts. Almost half (44%) of women stated their afternoon meal takes place at their workplace desk – 6% higher than the percentage of men who concurred. It added women spend a longer time at their desks compared with men. Almost seven in 10 (66%) women stated they spend between six to nine hours sitting at their desks on an average workday – 4% more than the percentage of men. Dr Luigi Gratton, vice-president of worldwide nutrition education and development at Herbalife, told Human Resources that a possible cause for the high number of professionals spending more time at the workplace is limited manpower. “Many businesses nowadays are striving for increased efficiency. Corporations are downsizing, looking to have fewer employees while still maximising their output,” he said. “Hence, most companies these days are understaffed, resulting in longer working hours

for all, with less time to take breaks and relax,” Gratton added. Overall, however, 64% of locals spend the same number of hours at their desks, only slightly lower than the APAC average of 62%. More than seven out of 10 (72%) professionals in Hong Kong said that they spend six to nine hours of their weekday at their desks, while 66% of their counterparts in Singapore stated the same. “Singapore workers tend to lead largely sedentary lifestyles, though they still understand the need to step away from their desks to engage in physical activity,” the survey stated. “Overall, while survey respondents recognise the importance of living a healthy active lifestyle, they also highly value the role that corporate culture plays in helping them achieve that lifestyle.” Percentage of professionals who take lunch breaks at their desks four to five times a week (by country) Hong Kong






Source: Herbalife’s Nutrition At Work survey

THE THREE MOST DESIRED SKILLS IN A CHRO Global – The chief human resources officer (CHRO) today sits at the elbow of the CEO and maintains one of the most influential positions within senior management. But how can CHROs truly make their impact felt in organisations today and ensure they are contributing optimally? A new report by Visier listed the three most desired traits CHROs should have to succeed today. 1. Business acumen More than four out five (81%) executives said that when hiring new senior HR talent they value business acumen more than technical HR skills. 2. Data-driven Additionally, 80% of executives say their company cannot succeed without an assertive data-driven CHRO, who takes a strong stance on talent issues and uses facts to deliver an informed point of view. 3. Performance focused More than seven out of 10 (78%) executives added 12 » Human Resources » July 2016

their company cannot succeed without a CHRO who takes on responsibility for contributing directly to business performance. “CEOs want to think of the CHRO the way they think of the CFO,” said John Schwarz, CEO and founder of Visier. “They want a strategic adviser who can speak the language of the business with hard data. But a solid understanding of people dynamics is also key: talent magnets increase revenues and profits faster.”

Most executives stated, however, they do not expect to find top CHRO talent within the HR department - 63% of all executives said the most effective CHROs come from non-HR backgrounds in areas such as finance, operations or legal. The report surveyed 301 corporate executives at companies with revenues of $1 billion or more across the US and asked their views on the changing role of HR leadership. C-level executives also agreed the most effective CHROs come from non-HR backgrounds. Almost four out five (79%) executives who have a C-level, president, or chairman job title say the best CHROs come from non-HR backgrounds. The three most desired traits in CHROs 1. Business acumen 2. Data-driven 3. Performance focused Source: Visier report

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PROFILE » Ilja Rijnen

Ilja Rijnen

Regional HR director for Asia Pacific and India Edrington Raising a toast to organisational purpose By AKANKASHA DEWAN

Art Direction: Shahrom Kamarulzaman; Photography: Elliot Lee, Nikon Ambassador (Singapore) –

Q What made you join Edrington

in 2015? Edrington is the parent company of some of the world’s best known premium spirits: The Macallan, Highland Park single malt Scotch whiskies, The Famous Grouse and many more. After developing a new global strategy, Edrington was introducing a global HR agenda and was looking for someone to join its regional office in Singapore to facilitate the integration of five operating companies. From a professional standpoint, the role appealed to me immediately – mainly because of the firm’s unique ownership structure that led it to place social responsibility at its core. Coming from a large publicly listed MNC, I was intrigued by a company that donates a considerable portion of profits to good causes in the markets where it operates. These are chosen by staff, and employees are truly encouraged to become more involved in their communities.

Q How would you summarise

Edrington’s HR agenda? Edrington’s HR agenda, be it rewards or development, is tailored at people being able to take ownership, give visibility to our strategy and inspire others to work with a purpose. HR in Edrington is currently helping to transform the organisation by providing insights on how it can meet its objectives in terms of rewards, talent, organisational engagement and development. It is becoming an integrated performance partner locally, regionally and globally. We have a global HR agenda, which is all about how you can proactively drive change and continuity around the

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organisation – having succession (plans) in place, being able to move with the trends in the market, etc. Asia, for us, is a fastgrowing and important market. With that in mind, we invest a lot in this region. We also invest in a lot of people through our development programmes – both functional and leadership. In a fast-changing and aggressive business environment, we take a long-term view of our people. We invest a lot in the capability of our people, in our leadership and talent programmes.

The uptake of our learning culture so far has been a real success. In order to increase the connection between learning and individual performance and growth we have started with region-wide quarterly performance and talent committees. A committee is made up of the managing director, and his leadership team – the HR, finance, marketing, sales directors, etc. We review all our employees and we focus both on our confidence in everyone’s short-term performance as well as strategic talent planning to deliver our strategy.

Q Could you cite any specific

Q This is interesting because

examples of such talent programmes? In November last year, we launched a global learning academy, with Asia Pacific as the pilot region. We launched this after months of involving our senior executives and employees to really understand what the organisation’s status and needs were. We have combined these insights with a best-in-class online tool, as well as a global mentoring programme. Our 70-20-10 approach to learning isn’t revolutionary, but where we really stand out as an organisation is the fact we have combined a global learning concept with local input. This means that we are launching regionally relevant articles, languages and our own employee area at the centre of the academy – this shows how information is tailored to the individual user, as well as the fact we have many employees whose role and career stories are featured online. Our roll-out and follow-up has been rigorous: we took all leaders and managers through a full academy course, followed by monthly plans for all employees in APAC.

VITAL STATS Ilja Rijnen joined Edrington in September 2015 as HR director for the region as part of the Asia Pacific and India leadership team and reports to the group HR director. He functionally heads up HR in the region and works closely with the senior leadership teams to build a strong people culture and enhanced capability.

traditionally HR is found to be at the forefront of such performance reviews, and the process is entirely HR-driven. But at Edrington, all functions are leading the process. Why is this so? HR should actually be not just a business partner, but a performance partner. In the end, I think HR is the function that has the biggest responsibility to ensure the business is delivering its performance in a great way. That means involving your people, inspiring your people, and making sure they are aware of the company’s purpose and their own purpose in the firm. My view of HR is it should operate very closely with the business. We have an HR team of 10 people, of which five are HR managers. Each business unit has one individual HR manager. Each of these HR managers sit with their respective leadership teams in their monthly leadership meetings. The whole point of doing this is to ensure HR isn’t at the end of the proverbial chain, but at the start of it, when commercial decisions are being made. This will help

PROFILE » Ilja Rijnen HR to think about what those decisions will mean for our talent or reward strategy and the impact they will have. In Edrington, I want our HR teams to deeply understand what the business is about, to be able to challenge the business leaders in their thinking about what the business is going to be in five years, and what are the people drivers we need in our business to get there. The real value of HR and the future of HR is to become a strong business partner strategically, on the performance of the company. I want the business to understand HR’s plan and own it. In the future, I think the business will take on more and more of HR’s core tasks, supported by technology. HR, on the other hand, will increasingly be part of the leadership team and challenge it based on great insights on what is required for the business to succeed and to continue through its people.

Q How have reward strategies

changed over time? I think rewards can be the single biggest driver of engagement in any organisation. In Edrington, previously, the rewards strategy was drafted locally. At the moment, it is aligned regionally, and we also have a global rewards strategy, and we are also making our rewards more transparent. That doesn’t mean sharing everyone’s salary details, but that does involve an alignment across salary levels of roles, based on their role sizes, functions and markets where they operate. This alignment needs to be transparent and fair, and it allows employees to gain insights into which roles they want to next grow into in order to get their desired level of rewards. These could be upward moves or lateral, or even regional or global. I think as an organisation you should have the transparency to journey together with your employees. The first step to doing so is that your HR team and line managers should have an understanding of the size of employees’ roles, how they can reward them, and how they can grow them within a specific budget. If done in a transparent and fair way, rewards can help employees understand how organisations make decisions, and help in their employee value propositions.

Q Could you summarise the 16 » Human Resources » July 2016

basic tenets of your employee value proposition? We have a great work environment, in which we work with great products. We have great engagement plans that go further than just an activity. Our activities have purpose in them. We have a caring environment, where we also involve family and friends of our staff. In fact, part of the purpose of the organisation is “giving more” – we give back to the communities in which we work and, as Edrington has grown globally, it has extended the principle of donating a share of the company’s profits within its international markets. In 2014/15, charities across the world received donations valued at £1.55 million from Edrington, including £550,000 in donations in this region. This is on top of the £18.2 million that The Robertson Trust donated to charities in Scotland. Charitable giving at Edrington is about getting involved, and for this we organise numerous initiatives. In addition to several charity sales, we recently completed a 450km fundraising bike ride from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore, which saw the participation of many colleagues and the entire leadership team. Through this initiative, we donated over S$100,000 to Child at Street 11, a non-profit organisation dedicated to helping low-income families provide early years education for their children. In everything we do, we are connected with charitable giving. Giving back to our communities is, in fact, part of our DNA

and in our engagement plans. There is always a purpose behind everything that we do, and that is a magnet to keeping our employees in the company. In essence, we are a very trustworthy authentic organisation that really values people and the communities in which we operate.

Q What impact do all these initiatives

have on your engagement rates? Across our local companies in Asia, we have a high engagement rate. We conduct an engagement survey and it has told us that the most valued engagement initiatives we have is our investment in the development of our talent, and the fact that we have an open-door policy. This also comes across in our recruitment. We’ve got a good structure in place when it comes to hiring. All our roles will be posted internally at least, and so there is complete transparency. One of the exciting things we are launching this year is our global graduate programme which we’re launching here in December, and we have just kicked off an internship programme in which we have partnered with the five main universities in Singapore.

Q How do you measure the

performance of your people? We launched a global business strategy last year in May, and off the back of that, we had a new HR strategy launch in June last year. What has happened since is that this strategy has been translated not only to a regional, functional and local level,

Ilja Rijnen « PROFILE but also bottom-up from the employees back to the strategy. Each employee had sessions with the leadership team in order to start understanding his or her unique contribution to the business. The point of doing this is to ensure we don’t just cascade our business objectives down to the employees. Rather, we give our people an overview of our strategy of the region, and people start understanding and taking ownership of what they’re uniquely contributing to the strategy. We really try to get ownership from the individual, on how they’re going to deliver on our strategy. That means everyone has three to five unique objectives in delivering this strategy. These are reviewed on a quarterly basis for every individual, in which we decide how confident we are about whether this person will be able to deliver on their objectives in the next three to five months.

Q Speaking of the future, what’s the

approach you take to ensure your leadership pipelines are full to lead the organisation in the future? If you think about the landscape we operate in, with around 90% of our

competitors also operating in Singapore and our other main markets in the region, we are all competing for the same talent. Because the business that we have here today won’t be the same five years down the line, to ensure we remain at the forefront, we begin by identifying the critical capabilities needed to lead this business in the future. We also regularly review our engagement plans to ensure our organisation is irresistible and engaging for our people – like a magnet. We also identify what is unique in our business, and set up our business accordingly. In addition, we give people the opportunity to be very entrepreneurial in their roles. We allow freedom and growth in the jobs we offer.

Q Do you have any initiatives in place

for the development of your staff? When it comes to leadership development, we have the Edrington leadership programme for senior leaders and the emerging talent programme, which is for emerging talent. Our other development initiative revolves around overcoming a challenge. Regionally, around two thirds of

the people in our business currently don’t speak English. So what I’m focusing on is regional and local talent programmes – so looking at basic line manager skills to ensure you have good leadership skills, and also looking at successors and developing them. We also look at developing the technical skills and commercial skills of our employees. We acknowledge that we need to invest more in developing local leaders. There is room for improvement when it comes to leadership skills – especially with regards to communication skills, and how leaders engage, connect and inspire people around them. But we don’t want a perfect leader, we want one with a high sense of integrity and one who trusts his or her people and has a genuine purpose. If leaders are authentic, know what drives and stops them, understand how they are connected to the organisation and can inspire and coach others around them, then their employees will automatically gravitate towards them. It creates the irresistible organisation that I want to build with my team every day.

July 2016 « Human Resources « 17


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Relocation and Mobility « FEATURE or decades, the approach of longterm mobility assignments has been used for the majority of international relocations. However, there’s a lot more dissatisfaction from the business leaders paying the bills nowadays – given the renewed focus on costs and employee development. Such long-term assignments continue to cost between three to eight times an employee’s annual salary – depending on the home and host locations, the level of employee and their family size. T.J. Spencer, vice president of sales, and managing director of APAC, at Oakwood Worldwide, notes that one in five mobility assignments now last less than 12 months compared with just one in ten in 2002. She explains, “In Asia Pacific one of the current trends that we are seeing is the continued shift towards shorter-term assignments as the rising number of Millennial employees in the workplace, takes hold. Organisations are using temporary assignments and younger workers on developmental assignments to plug international skills gaps and remain competitive.” She also finds organisations increasingly employing home-grown talent in Asia Pacific to create more regional specific roles, causing a rise in West to East mobility patterns as well as a rise in intra-regional assignments, particularly evident in Tier 1 cities such as Singapore, Tokyo and Hong Kong. In the near future, it is possible that low-cost, yet high-impact mobility strategies, could pave the way for a new wave of mobility assignments that are creative and flexible in their approach. In pondering the question, we reached out to mobility leaders across Asia – Avery Dennison in Hong Kong, ABB in Malaysia, and National Australia Bank in Singapore – to identify the state and drivers of their employee mobility and relocation strategies.

CASE 1: Barbara Lam, manager – enterprise mobility, Asia Pacific, Avery Dennison Before 2014, Avery Dennison, a worldwide packaging material supplier, had a mobility policy with a standard set of components for each assignee. Feedback from the business, however, pointed to changing needs – not all components were necessary for each assignee, given the need to balance individual needs with cost pressures. With that feedback started the process of developing a new global policy matrix by Avery Dennison’s mobility team of three, headquartered in California with two members, one to support mobility for the EMEA region and one for Asia Pacific. In charge of the latter is Barbara Lam, manager of enterprise mobility for Asia Pacific, who recalls the first step was to talk to the top global management and get buy-in before implementing it regionally. “I explained to my key HR leaders in the region what we were doing, how and why this was going to help us move in a more costefficient way,” she says. What ensued was the development of a new mobility strategy comprising three types of policies – long-term (more than 12 months), short-term (three to 12 months), permanent relocation and rotational for trainee programmes; and three types of compensation packages – full, basic and light. “These are tailored based on the seniority and specific needs of the assignee, and the business needs. This approach has helped us lower the cost for the business, and accommodate the individual needs. We will continue to review the policy based on the feedback we receive,” she says. Implementation of this policy required close collaboration with business unit HR representatives and the business units, especially some countries within the 16 covered under Asia Pacific, for which it was the first time handling mobility cases. “We spent a lot of time explaining and handholding them, which is worth it because then they know exactly what they need to do.” Two years down, with more than 30 assignees being managed in the region, the real test of effectiveness of the policy is “repeat customers”, Lam explains. “The volume of assignees hasn’t decreased, July 2016 « Human Resources « 19

FEATURE » Relocation and Mobility

Packing it all in: Avery Dennison conducts regular business reviews with its global service provider to stay on top of costs.

and the business keeps coming back to us, and has welcomed our programme.” In addition, Avery Dennison conducts regular business reviews with its global service provider TheMIGroup to not only stay on top of costs, but also assignee satisfaction. Lam and her team also organise catch-ups with HR leaders, as well as speak to the assignees before and after a relocation to gauge their happiness. “If they are not happy about something, they will say it diplomatically,” she quips.

CASE 2: Hidayah Rosli, global mobility specialist, ABB Malaysia With the average cost of an expatriate 20 » Human Resources » July 2016

assignment in the range of RM1 million, power and automation technologies player ABB Malaysia embarked on a journey of stringently executing changes to its mobility policy. In May 2014, ABB launched a revised mobility policy in alignment with its White Collar Productivity programme (WCP), targeted at breaking down unnecessary costs. Hidayah Rosli, global mobility specialist at ABB Malaysia, explains: “Some of the benefits were no longer available, such as club membership, claims for home maintenance, and most importantly, income tax to be borne by the assignee rather than the employer.” When Rosli took up her position in February

Relocation and Mobility « FEATURE 2015, approaching a year into the new policy, she realised the changes were yet to be implemented across the majority of assignees. “It was a very big change for them, and there was a lot of dissatisfaction, especially among some of the European assignees,” she admits. Her mandate was to ensure that all new assignments were covered by the new policy, as well as transition the extension of existing relocation assignments to the new policy at the time of renewal. She went about her task by starting with those who had extended their assignment from 2015 onwards by more than six months. She cites the example of an assignee who wanted to extend his contract by seven months, but complained he had not been briefed on the terms of the new policy. What ensued was a heated discussion involving the exchange of several emails, with the assignee and his home country finally seeing reason and agreeing to the new policy. Wins such as this were precious to Rosli. Another initiative undertaken to support the policy was the merging of ABB’s SalCal (salary calculation) with Mercer’s guidelines to ensure

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that assignees’ tax data was up to date in light of Malaysia’s changing tax laws. She also had everyone’s tax assessed by PwC, appointed the global partner for mobility projects, making sure that tax relief was granted for no more than five months.

“If the policy doesn’t tally with the process, then the policy is not workable. Even then, you cannot satisfy everyone.” – Hidayah Rosli, global mobility specialist at ABB Malaysia

“I managed to explain the reasoning behind the policy and also had a use case in the form of our former CFO, who moved from Malaysia to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where I managed to settle his tax in less than five months. He was so happy because he understood how the policy and the process work together,” she says. “If the policy doesn’t tally with the process, then the policy is not workable. Even then, you cannot satisfy everyone.”

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FEATURE » Relocation and Mobility With more than a year devoted to implementing the policy, she has now converted 50 of 55 incumbent assignees’ contracts in Malaysia to the new guidelines, with the remaining five to convert to the new policy when they extend their assignment. Additionally, this conversion has brought down the cost per mobility assignment to the range of RM 600,000-700,000, from the previous average of RM1 million, showcasing real business value in ABB Malaysia’s policy implementation.

“The opportunity to be exposed to cultural differences, while undertaking business has made me more aware and understanding of people’s views and beliefs.” – Andrew McCasker, NAB’s GM for private wealth Asia

CASE 3: National Australia Bank For Australia’s largest business bank, National Australia Bank’s (NAB) global mobility programme (GMP) comprises five policy types of assignments and permanent relocations – group initiated assignments, employee initiated assignments, short-term assignments, group permanent relocations, and employee initiated permanent relocations. Generally, assignments span up to three years, with about a year’s worth of extension. In the past financial year, more than 200 NAB employees were a part of the programme. Dora Christophidis, NAB’s global mobility programme manager, describes the goal of GMP is to cross-skill employees and empower them with greater capability to assume leadership positions in the future. “We give our international assignees (IAs) the opportunity to live and work overseas, develop great global capabilities and eventually, share their newly developed skills and experiences with their business units back in their home country,” she says. This is reiterated by Andrew McCasker, NAB’s GM for private wealth Asia, who is in the fourth year of his international assignment. “The opportunity to be exposed to cultural differences, while undertaking 22 » Human Resources » July 2016

business has made me more aware and understanding of people’s views and beliefs,” he says. IAs, such as McCasker, can come from most parts of the bank, including product specialists, markets specialists, and support function specialists from finance, marketing, people and risk. Support for IAs include tax assistance preparation, various insurances, home and school search, orientation programmes, cross-cultural briefings and reverse culture shock support, spouse assistance, temporary accommodation and other allowances. NAB’s mobility programme is also open to employees from Asia looking to relocate to Australia for greater exposure and career development. Iris Lo, NAB’s regional events specialist, based in its Hong Kong branch, relocated to Melbourne in October 2015 on a shortterm assignment. “Having a comprehensive individual development plan, supportive people leaders and team members have made this secondment possible,” she says. Driving this mobility strategy is NAB’s extensive effort to identify the most appropriate candidates – people who have a global mindset and resilience associated with change to be able to integrate smoothly into a foreign environment. In delivering the GMP, NAB ensures policy benefits and allowances are benchmarked for market competitiveness, while the design is consistently reviewed by external consultants. Moving forward, NAB plans on improving its outreach, as well as enabling more women to participate and take on higher-level roles on assignment. At the same time, NAB continues to focus on fine-tuning its repatriation efforts to ensure IAs can integrate back into their home country’s business unit seamlessly after their assignment. This can be achieved by using more effective assignment tracking, management and reporting closer monitoring or support of the relationship between the IA and the home business. Kate Colley, NAB’s head of people for Asia, says: “Economic links between Australia and New Zealand, and Asia are important and growing rapidly and we must ensure we have the right talent to ensure we can successfully execute our business strategy.”

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FEATURE Âť Talent Management

Countries faced with an ageing population are likely to also see a shortage of talent as these mature workers go into retirement. To combat that, Jerene Ang looks into how organisations can re-hire these mature workers and tap on their experience.

24 Âť Human Resources Âť July 2016

Talent Management « FEATURE n ageing population is no stranger to countries all over the world. It is estimated that between 2015 and 2030, the number of older people (60 years or older) in the world is projected to grow by 56% – from 901 million to more than 1.4 billion. This was according to the World Population Ageing report published by the United Nations in 2015. The report also found that Asia is expected to see the third fastest growth (66%) in the number of older people over the next 15 years and by 2030, older people are expected to account for about 17% of the population in Asia. As these older people retire and exit the workforce, countries in the region will be faced with a diminishing workforce. One of the most popular ways countries are using to deal with this problem is by raising the retirement and re-employment age. After much speculation about the reemployment age, at the 2015 National Day Rally, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced formal changes to raise the country’s re-employment age from 65 to 67 adding the change will take effect by 2017. Earlier last year at a conference on ageing, health minister Gan Kim Yong pointed out the

Lion City’s future in the next 50 years would depend partly on how it managed its ageing population. He added that in the next 50 years, one in five Singaporeans would be aged 65 years and above making the society quite different than what it is today. Gan explained that for the nation to age successfully, both individuals and companies must first rethink their attitudes towards work. “The ability of employers to capitalise on the creative energies and experience of a workforce of different ages will be the key to unlocking productivity and economic potential of a fast maturing nation,” he said.

Old is gold Wong Keng Fye, head of human resources at Maybank, agrees with that notion saying: “As Singapore continues to compete in the global marketplace, we need to ensure that our workforce remains competitive despite a greying population. “One way to achieve this is to tap on the growing pool of experienced and skilled mature employees.”

July 2016 « Human Resources « 25

FEATURE » Talent Management

Through the looking glass: It makes business sense to recruit and retain older workers for their wealth of experience.

Roslyn Ten, general manager of the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP), agrees and points out that amid an ageing population and shrinking talent pool, companies can ensure they have the talent to drive their businesses by holding onto their talent for longer – by employing and re-employing older workers. “It makes business sense to recruit and retain older workers, as employers get to tap into a wealth of experience, skills and knowledge, and have higher loyalty and commitment as well as lower absenteeism for the organisation to stay competitive and productive,” she says. “In fact, research conducted by TAFEP that surveyed employers’ attitudes towards older workers found that 76% of employers felt that older workers provided better mentoring and coaching; 73% felt that older workers 26 » Human Resources » July 2016

contributed important insights that shaped crucial company decisions; 73% felt that the older workforce was loyal and committed; and over 60% believed that older workers were more reliable at work and resilient in the face of a crisis.” Likening older staff in the company to the “Google” search engine, Wong says: “The best data repository rests with people – the older staff in your company who have been with the organisation for the past 20, 30, 40 or more years.” One of the benefits of hiring older colleagues as pointed out by Wong is they bring with them stability, commitment, reliability and a strong sense of loyalty and identity. “Most older workers have gone through a lot. Many of them may still be in their first or second jobs, staying with the same employer for about

Talent Management « FEATURE two to four decades. It is with a certain sense of contentment and appreciation that they have chosen to stay on,” he says. “Older workers believe that if you do your best for your employer, your employer will recognise your achievements and reward you for it. In turn, you continue to grow within the company. This is a positive cycle.”

Older employees as mentors. Case one – Maybank Walking the talk, Maybank employs more than 250 staff who are over 50 and about 50 staff who are aged 62 and above. Wong gave the example of Mr Lee who was made a senior banker in Maybank’s global banking division when he reached the retirement age of 62. “His role is to deepen the relationships with customers, to groom the younger bankers and to teach and nurture them,” Wong says. “Mr Lee’s role is very much like an emeritus mentor, an ambassador for the bank. He sees the customers, develops paths to certain markets and paves the way for businesses to build up and flow in.” Explaining why Mr Lee was appointed to the role, Wong says: “He can do this because he has spent more than 35 years – the larger part of his career – in corporate and commercial business. He knows the ground, the way to do business, customer behaviours and how to sustain and enhance relationships with customers.”

Older employees as mentors. Case two – MAN Diesel & Turbo Singapore Similarly, at MAN Diesel & Turbo Singapore, in line with the popular Chinese saying, which advocates that having an elderly person in the household is akin to possessing a piece of treasure, the firm believes that mature workers form an unwavering pillar for the organisation based on their vast accumulation of experience, knowledge and skills. As such, MAN Diesel has a history of employing and re-employing older workers, with one third of its workforce aged 50 years and above. “Our hiring practices at MAN Diesel & Turbo Singapore are reflective of a strong family culture. Every individual is valuable to us, with a different set of skills to offer and a different role to play,” says Simon Chong, senior HR manager for MAN Diesel & Turbo Singapore. To integrate these employees into the workforce, MAN Diesel often places them in the critical role of mentors. “The younger employees join the company bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, eager to start work straight away – but they begin from zero. As fresh entrants, they need coaching and guidance from senior employees – and that is where the older workers step in to contribute,” he says. “They are an infallible part of the system

July 2016 « Human Resources « 27

FEATURE » Talent Management

“The younger employees join the company bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, eager to start work straight away – but they begin from zero. As fresh entrants, they need coaching and guidance from senior employees – and that is where the older workers step in to contribute.” – Simon Chong, senior HR manager at MAN Diesel & Turbo Singapore

that helps with knowledge transfer to their younger colleagues,” he says, adding they have the ability to sharpen and perfect the skills of the younger workers because of their vast experience in the industry. With a culture centred on diversity and inclusiveness, MAN Diesel views inclusiveness as a key to understanding how employees’ differences and similarities can be mobilised for the benefit of the individual, the organisation and society. “We also recognise that different approaches are needed for different individuals with varying needs and expectations, and older workers are no exception,” Chong says. “It is important that we place value on

INTEGRATING MATURE WORKERS INTO THE WORKFORCE In light of the upcoming increase of the re-employment age from 65 to 67 here are four tips TAFEP’s Ten has for employers to integrate mature workers into the workforce. 1. Look beyond the stereotypes to see the abilities of older workers. 2. Look at how to make workplaces more age-friendly, either by redesigning jobs, making changes to the physical work environment and/or providing an environment where multigenerations are able to work together. 3. Provide opportunities and encourage older workers to upgrade their skills. 4. Consider implementing flexible work arrangements for older workers such as job sharing, part-time work, flexi-hours or even telecommuting. “The key to successfully employing or re-employing older workers is to see them as a valuable resource and making adjustments at the workplace to allow them to contribute meaningfully,” Ten says.

28 » Human Resources » July 2016

differences, as opposed to just being concerned with having our employees ‘fit in’.”

Challenges to overcome Despite the obvious benefits older employees can bring as mentors, there are still mindset challenges that have to be overcome for this to work successfully. Stephane Michaud, PhD, senior director – consulting at Human Link Asia (a Mitsubishi Corporation Company), points out that in a classic Japanese scheme when an employee reaches the age of 55, they are given a pay cut of 20% and less responsibility until they reach the age of 60 where the company may or may not re-employ them. He adds Mitsubishi got rid of that scheme at its headquarters in Japan as it was “way too young for the Japanese”. However, he says: “There’s still the mentality in the region that managers will still do that to employees when they reach that age and, of course, it brings anxiety. “When someone feels like the company wants to get rid of them, they entrench themselves in their positions and they have less incentives to teach their subordinates.” He adds this can also be a cultural problem “when departments work in silos and there isn’t a high level of trust and teamwork and there’s a lot of internal competition”. “The way to prevent that is to change the culture to a more open one.” Revealing a strategy he has to counteract the problem, he says: “In some countries in which we operate, I’m trying to make it comfortable for the mature workers to teach and transfer the knowledge. “If they know they are valuable and the company wants to keep them for an extended period of time, they will feel more comfortable in sharing the knowledge.” Michaud feels that instead of just being an adviser where they may not have an influence on decisions, if the mature worker is involved in designing and shaping their new role – even if it has to be a little bit modified – they will be more open to it. He further notes that other than changing the retirement age in the company’s handbook, “it’s also about changing the mindset to say that this individual has skills and knowledge that are useful to the company regardless of age”.

Highlights: HR Leaders Summit 2016 An exclusive peek into what 50 of Asia’s senior HR leaders discussed at a three-day conference in Phuket, reported by Aditi Sharma Kalra.

Sunshine, cocktails, a

barbecue, facilitated networking sessions, and three days of ideation with 50 of Asia’s most senior HR professionals – welcome to the HR Leaders Summit 2016. The third edition of the annual signature summit organised by Human Resources was held in Thailand at the beautiful Renaissance Phuket Resort & Spa from May 16-18 in an exclusive invite-only event. Welcoming delegates on day one was an evening reception at The Lounge where everyone 30 » Human Resources » July 2016

was treated to food and drinks in the backdrop of a floating stage, upon which regional editor Aditi Sharma Kalra opened the conference. She said: “We started with our vision of getting some of the smartest HR leaders in the same room, away from the grind of the office, and here we are coming up with ideas together. This is a rare opportunity.” Stephen Mosely, president and MD of L’Oréal Hong Kong, presented the opening keynote as a C-suite insider, with his advice on what the rest of the C-suite leaders expect from the CHRO.

“Think in terms of initiatives that will last, not just programmes that are the flavour of the month.” Up next was Haroon Bhatti, CHRO of Digi Telecommunications, with an inspiring presentation on Digi’s move towards digitising the HR experience to enable data-driven decisions. “In every decision you make, there has to be a clear and significant impact to the business,” he noted, while showcasing how fulfillment of an employee’s need is the best way to get employees to adopt digital HR.

Following him was CEO of leadership institute Roffey Park, Michael Jenkins, with his take on compassion and resilience in the workplace, proving that such traits make for equally successful leaders. Day one of the HR Leaders Summit concluded with an evening reception at The Lounge, filled with great food and drink and even better company and conversation. Day two saw a mix of panel discussions, case studies and keynote presentations. After a breakfast buffet, Sunil Narang, president and CEO of WDHB Strategic Learning, took to the stage to inspire delegates with his take on how learning expeditions can provide value to HR professionals. Following that keynote was a panel discussion hosted by Kalra, featuring Bhatti (CHRO, Digi Telecommunications), Ravi Bhogaraju (global HR leader, Archroma) and Mohd Najid Yahya (CHRO, Felda Global Ventures) on ways HR can drive effectiveness for business growth. They focused on how implementing communication behaviours strengthens relationships across the business. Douglas Hamer, COO for talent learning and performance at Citi, then took centre stage to present a case study on how the firm puts employees in the driver’s seat of their careers. “A career development portal is absolutely not an abdication of managers’ responsibilities in developing their employees,” he said, on the importance of preparing line managers adequately. It was then time for another case study, this one by Paul Hotchan, assistant VP of executive

July 2016 « Human Resources « 31

recruitment and workforce strategy at Galaxy Entertainment Group, who set in action ideation around how HR teams can utilise social media and measure its ROI. Delegates then saw Human Resources’ senior journalist Akankasha Dewan hosting Jean-Michel Wu (chief talent officer, McCann Worldgroup), John Mullins (chief development officer, Ruder Finn) and Ken Hoskin (head of APAC talent, Airbnb) to identify how HR and marketing teams can work together. The key learning here? The employee journey must feel the same across the organisation – when HR and marketing collaborate on employer branding – “there must be no difference between the customer experience and employee experience”. Day two was concluded by Norbert Modla, global head of HR at JF Hillebrand Group, exhibiting how gamification can be implemented using leadership simulations, backed by coachingbased on the decisions employees make in the games. The third and final day of the conference heralded an intriguing discussion on gender and other forms of diversity, led by Lisa Mulligan, executive director HR – international, at MRC Global. Speaking on the need for “sponsors” in the workplace, she said: “We all need people in our careers who pull us up when we need it, and give us confidence to get back on track.” The discussion she sparked continued until noon, wherein roundtable interactive sessions on five topics helped delegates sum up their learning from the conference, as well as give them an opportunity to discuss and debate with their peers. Topics included understanding why HR strategy implementations can fail and the role

of HR in overcoming uncertainty and pursuing business growth. These sessions were moderated by leaders such as Joyce Foo (country HR director, NXP Semiconductors); Asha Menon (HR director, Agility Logistics); Charles Hughley (GM – global talent management, Johnson Electric); David Heng (MD and head, talent management and culture building, CIMB Group); and Adrian Ole (regional HR director, Asia, International SOS). The conversations continued well into the afternoon, concluding with a summary of the discussions by the roundtable moderators as well as Karla’s closing remarks. To finish everything off, delegates enjoyed a delicious lunch as the Human Resources team took a well-deserved break after organising the successful conference.

Human Resources would like to thank its generous sponsors and partners, without whom the conference would not have been possible. • Gold sponsors – Roffey Park | WDHB Strategic Learning. • Partners – Decode HR | Scotwork | The Naked Coach and Rock the Boat. • Official venue partner – Renaissance Phuket Resort & Spa. 32 » Human Resources » July 2016


TRANSFORMING THE TALENT ACQUISITION FUNCTION Today’s business outlook is more competitive than ever. Besides developing unique strategies to stay ahead of the game, and building up organisational infrastructures that are sound, while keeping fire on all cylinders, there has also been an increasing focus on the element most dire to workforces – its people. Stripping away the tales of success and taking a peek behind the burgeoning numbers of a booming business, you’ll find that what sets a truly great organisation apart from the ordinary is the sheer strength of its talent – all the way from the top brass to the factory floor. With that said, it is particularly interesting to observe where the progress of a business converges with the quality of its hires – so we set out to investigate the areas contingent to attracting and retaining the best talent out there. We did so by asking more than 150 HR executives and experts in Australia, China, Hong Kong and Singapore to share their views on the state of talent acquisition in this day and age, along with the challenges and opportunities brought with it. According to this research, three key areas were identified as the biggest challenges for HR professionals. • Establishing and communicating the corporate brand and enhancing candidate experience Corporate brand and candidate experience was identified as not only one of the top requirements contributing to the overall talent acquisition process, but also considered by 43% of the HR executives surveyed as the most prominent challenge. An age diverse workforce with growing discrepancies, even within the same generation, is fast becoming prevalent – as such, one of the most significant factors is the need to communicate an employer value proposition effectively. With that in mind, it is crucial to consistently communicate the employer value proposition to employees, as it helps to introduce proper structures to establish a uniform brand experience for talent across generations and seniority levels. • Finding the right sourcing channels and methods The second biggest obstacle posed to HR departments in Asia Pacific is finding candidates that are suitably qualified to fill up vacancies. Since sourcing is such a vital aspect of a successful talent acquisition formula, organisations need to constantly review and analyse their strategies when initiating candidate outreach. As the study found, internal referrals remain the most utilised, perhaps due to the perception that existing employees would be able to recommend someone best suited for the company, as opposed to someone sourced from elsewhere. In an increasingly connected world where smart devices are widely used, it only makes sense the sourcing approach is shifted online as well – 78% of the HR executives surveyed cited social media as an effective tool for attracting talent, with the capability to evaluate talent both within countries and across regions. This indicates that organisations are seeing the benefits that social media channels can offer, and should continue to maximise efficiency by utilising digital channels. • Effective utilisation of technology Living in the golden age of digital allows us to apply digital means to enable a more efficient and innovative approach to the processes within the hiring domain. In fact, 79% of those surveyed anticipate that mobile technology will lead the way in talent acquisition, opening up remarkable opportunities for connecting and engaging with candidates. Organisations should therefore consider enlisting more advanced technologies that may lead to better hiring decisions. Our fast-paced ever-changing landscape has evolved in such a way that

the failure to adapt to the latest trends and demands would also mean that we are rendered less likely to attract and secure the people and skills essential to maintaining a robust workforce. It is important for talent acquisition specialists to ensure they stay attuned to where specific skill sets are available and the dynamics of different markets in order to keep up with the ever-changing business environment. The need for a pool of bright, passionate talented individuals to drive innovation within the organisation is essential for achieving a competitive edge. With business leaders in forward-looking organisations across Asia Pacific learning to adopt a more strategic approach to talent acquisition, there is no doubt there is an expanse of opportunities to tackle and eventually overcome the challenges posed.

This article is contributed by Caleb Baker, managing director, APAC and emerging markets, Alexander Mann Solutions

We are Alexander Mann Solutions and we’re passionate about helping companies and individuals fulfil their potential through talent acquisition and management. Today, over 3,200 of our talent acquisition and management experts are partnering with blue-chip clients across multiple sectors and in more than 80 countries. Delivering a distinctive blend of outsourcing and consulting services, our unrivalled experience, capability and thought leadership helps our clients attract, engage and retain the talent they need for business success.

For more information, please call +852 8101 0898 or visit or email

July 2016 « Human Resources « 33

OPINION » Learning & development

How P&G achieved gender diversity at its Singapore plant MAGESVARAN SURANJAN President of Asia Pacific, Procter & Gamble

LYNETTE YONG, HR manager, P&G Singapore Pioneer Plant

Since its inception in 2012, see how the P&G Purifier of Water Plant has gone from being staffed by a predominantly male workforce to having 55% of the workforce comprising women.

Changing world: Work processes have been adapted at P&G to include women.

The manufacturing industry

is well-known for having one of the lowest percentages of women in the workforce. However, at Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) Singapore Pioneer Plant, a series of diversity-intensive initiatives have ensured that 55% of the workforce consists of women. On 13 May, P&G celebrated the milestone of the 10 billionth litre of clean drinking water through its non-profit Children’s Safe Drinking Water (CSDW) programme at the P&G Purifier of Water plant in Singapore – the only place globally which makes P&G’s water purification packets. Under the CSDW programme, which started in 2004, P&G’s purification packets have been provided across 15 Asian countries. The programme works with more than 150 partners to raise awareness and provide clean drinking water, including more than 1.1 billion litres donated in Asia. Human Resources’ Jerene Ang caught up with Magesvaran Suranjan, president of Asia Pacific at P&G, and Lynette Yong, HR manager at P&G Singapore Pioneer Plant. Q. What is P&G’s view on diversity and equal opportunity? Suranjan: We believe strongly in attracting the best talent and in helping them achieve their maximum potential. This is done through supportive company policies and continuous learning programmes. It is our core value to promote and reward, and embrace diversity and equal opportunities for employees. Q. What are some of the initiatives in place to promote this? Yong: We are open and conscious in our hiring policy.

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Regardless of gender or race, we hire people based on their ability to perform the job. Many of our work processes are adapted to allow women equal opportunities to take on positions traditionally held by men. Automation has been introduced, allowing us to reduce our reliance on manpower, and eliminate the need for physical force in terms of heavy load lifting in our plant. We also have familyfriendly and mother-friendly initiatives, such as nursing rooms and parental benefits for all employees. Being a plant, flexible work schedules cannot be guaranteed. However, we are strong advocates of family and work-life balance and support flexibility where we can. Our unique approach to grooming talent offers equal opportunity to ITE, polytechnic and degree-holders. Everybody starts as an entry-level technician and is given the opportunities, the right tools and training to excel. An ITE-graduate has the same opportunity to be promoted to management as a degree-holder. Q. Since the implementation of these initiatives, what results have been seen? Yong: Since its opening in 2012, the P&G Purifier of Water Plant has gone from being staffed by a predominantly male workforce to having 55% of our plant workforce being women. It is unusual in the manufacturing sector in Singapore to see a majority – or even a balanced – female workforce. Our warehouse operations are headed by Nurliyana Sulaiman, a mother of one. She was given training in forklift and other machinery operations, among other courses, and is today managing the warehouse. Many of our employees, no matter their educational qualifications, have risen up the ranks to become leaders of their departments. One of them, Aaron Ngui, joined us with an engineering diploma as an entry-level technician, and went on to complete a degree in business management. Today, he is an engineering project manager in our general office. Q. How do such initiatives offer ROI for the business? Suranjan: It is important to have a diverse talent pool to be successful. In acquiring talent, we recruit employees from a diverse range of backgrounds, and choose the individuals who have the best skill set and most relevant experience to excel in the job function. We believe that diversity in our employees can lead to diversity of thinking which helps fuel innovation.


DEMYSTIFYING BACKGROUND SCREENING: MYTHS DEBUNKED For many organisations, finding the right candidate with the desired aptitude and skill sets has become a major business challenge. Further complicating the war for talent is a worrying trend – discrepancy levels are soaring in the Asia Pacific region, a 4% increase over the past two years, based on First Advantage’s Background Screening Trends Report. A discrepancy refers to the difference between the information that a candidate has provided in his or her job application (such as employment history and educational background) and the results of independently verifying this information. It is little wonder that more employers are conducting extensive background screening not only for candidates, but also potential vendors and existing employees. In the spirit of demystifying background screening, this is our attempt to debunk some of the most common myths surrounding it: Myth: Background screening is only conducted by large corporations. Truth: Background screening is no longer limited to any particular industry or dictated by the size of the company. As more employers seek talent beyond their own shores, they depend largely on background screening to validate the claims made by candidates. In our experience, background screening is already an established practice even among start-ups and small-to-medium enterprises in Asia Pacific.

potential impact on the business and the job, when it was committed and what the final outcome was. Just because an individual has a criminal record does not mean they will be automatically disqualified. Myth: Candidates do not have a say when it comes to background checks. Truth: Employers are required to seek candidates’ permission before conducting background screening. If candidates are denied a job based on the results of this screening, they have the right to request for the report to understand, and even contest, the decision. We recommend that employers have an open conversation with candidates about the potential benefits of screening. We also believe that employers have a responsibility to provide candidates with a clear idea of what the hiring process entails. At the same time, we encourage candidates to be open and honest about their background, even if this means disclosing negative incidents. This in itself may not necessarily be detrimental, but hiding or falsifying information certainly would. Honesty is still the best policy when embarking on a potential employeremployee relationship and background screening is here to help.

Myth: Background checks are the same across all organisations. Truth: Background checks are often tailor-made to ensure they are relevant to the organisation, industry and designation, so the components verified will undoubtedly vary from one position to another and from one sector to another. For instance, a poor credit history may not be an important factor when hiring a content writer, but it could be a key consideration for banking professionals. Myth: Background checks are quick and easy. Truth: Contrary to popular belief, thorough and high-quality background screening cannot be completed in a day. Every country has its own laws governing the sourcing of information about an individual, particularly their criminal records. On average, a background check takes seven to 15 business days depending on the number and type of components that need to be verified. This turnaround time may increase if the candidate has worked or studied in different parts of the world. Myth: Employers only call references provided by the candidate. Truth: As employers become more cautious, they no longer restrict reference checks to those provided by the candidates. Employers also reach out to people whom they believe can give them pertinent information about the candidate. This can be achieved via different networks, so job seekers are advised to be open and truthful with recruiters. Myth: Employers only conduct background checks to find discrepancies and rescind employment offers. Truth: This is certainly not true. Candidates should remember that, in most cases, background checks are conducted only when the employer is close to making the final hiring decision. Background screening is a safeguard to ensure they are hiring the right person for the job. Myth: Candidates will not be hired if they have a criminal record. Truth: Employers were once hesitant to recruit individuals with criminal records, but today, most employers would consider the type of crime and its severity, its

This article is contributed by Drs Erik Schmit, EVP and managing director, APAC, First Advantage

Drs Erik Schmit is the EVP and managing director for Asia Pacific for First Advantage, the largest provider of employment background screening services in the Asia Pacific region. First Advantage conducts more than 54 million background checks annually, offering comprehensive screening solutions and industry best practices for coverage, legal regulations and processes.

For more information, visit

July 2016 « Human Resources « 35

Good reads to improve your business life


The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning: How to Turn Training and Development into Business Results, 3rd Edition

Three: The Human Resources Emerging Executive

Ian Ziskin Wiley S$47 With today’s organisations demanding HR leaders to possess a broad array of cross-functional and cross-organisational perspectives to come up with practical solutions for multi-dimensional challenges, Three: The Human Resources Emerging Executive is a must-read book for any aspiring CHRO. As a definitive guidebook for thriving in the ever-changing role of HR leadership, Three is written for high potential HR emerging executives who want to accelerate their effectiveness and business impact. Centred on the critical and complementary aspects of the role, author and HR veteran Ian Ziskin distils and compiles

36 » Human Resources » July 2016

33 years of insights based on his own experience. He explores leadership philosophies, HR’s evolving role in today’s organisations, and the future of HR and how it helps organisational success. Neatly divided into 12 chapters, the book starts with a comprehensive self-assessment and ends each chapter with a self-assessment specific to the chapter. Through it, readers will learn tips and techniques from more than a hundred of the best HR leaders on how to lead change, master the art of the question, build leadership and talent, create a performance culture and understand boardroom dynamics. Bookmark this! It is no longer good enough for HR leaders to persuade through passion, commitment and conviction – or through their credibility – based on trust-based relationships. These capabilities are helpful, but they are not sufficient in an increasingly resource and time-constrained world, where every important decision is competing for leaders’ attention, support and financial investment – page 251.

Bookmark this! It really does not matter whether participants “enjoyed” the programme; what matters is whether they are convinced that what they learned is useful, that they are motivated to use it in their work, and that they feel they know how to do so – page 146.

Photography: Fauzie Rasid

Pick of the month

Roy V. H. Pollock, Andy Jefferson, Calhoun W. Wick Wiley – S$53.80 It is undeniable that corporate learning and development play a huge role in business success. However, it is estimated that 80% of all professional development is usually never utilised. But what if there was a way to reclaim this huge amount of wasted value? In this third edition, the authors address this by providing tools to reclaim its value. This edition adds fresh and timely elements to the now globally trusted “6Ds” – define business outcomes, design the complete experience, deliver for application, drive learning transfer, deploy performance support, and document results. Revised to include all-new examples, tools, guides and insights, this book makes an excellent all-in-one guide for everyone looking to maximise ROI on learning budgets – from HR professionals to business leaders. With tools, guides and checklists in every chapter, readers can take home meaningful strategies that can be put to use immediately.

I M P ROV I N G S K I L L S T H AT M AT T E R As the training division of Human Resources, HR Academy takes a proactive role in organising a regional series of public and in-house training courses across Asia. Together with our conferences and awards shows, these courses form part of a complete suite of events specifically tailored for senior HR professionals.

Courses are conducted in a personalised and interactive workshop setting with practical case studies and examples from our expert trainers. Delegates will take away global best practices, fresh ideas and customised solutions for implementation back in their organisations.

HR Academy is committed to being a trusted learning partner of HR practitioners throughout Asia.

Past HR Academy Delegates were from: • • • • • • • • • • •

ABB Alliance Bank Malaysia AstraZeneca Borneo Convention Centre Kuching Bumi Armada Canon CapitaLand Carrier International Curtin University Sarawak Malaysia DSO National Laboratories Singapore Ericsson

• • • • • • • • • • •

FMC Fuji Xerox Fujitsu Asia Gucci International SOS Malaysia Airports Holdings McCann Erickson MediaCorp NCS S P Setia Sands China

HR Academy is brought to you by Human Resources, a publication of Lighthouse Independent Media

• • • • • • • • • •

Schneider Electric Singapore National Eye Centre Singapore Press Holdings SME Bank Malaysia StarHub Suntec Singapore Telekom Malaysia The Colony Group Tune Hotels United Overseas Bank (UOB)

CAREERS » Personal development

uptheranks Tracking HR’s industry moves Who: Sherine Chua From: Cluster director of human resources, Hotel Jen Singapore To: Director of human resources for Southeast Asia, Wyndham Hotel Group Southeast Asia (SEA) and Pacific Rim  Wyndham Hotel Group Southeast Asia and Pacific Rim appointed Sherine Chua to the role of director of human resources for Southeast Asia, effective 8 June 2016. According to a statement by the hotel group, she will be based in Wyndham’s Singapore office reporting to senior vice-president of HR, Bruce Harkness, who is based in Wyndham’s corporate centre on the Gold Coast, Australia. She will be responsible for overseeing the full spectrum of HR, including talent acquisition, employee engagement, learning and development for the group’s corporate office and vacation ownership sites, as well as extend pre and post-opening support for the managed hotels within the SEA region. Welcoming her to the team, Harkness said: “Sherine will be playing a significant role in driving our group’s expansion and laying the groundwork for our success in the region.”

Who: Sherlina Chew From: Head of HR at FGB Asia Pacific (First Gulf Bank) To: Global head of HR, GoSwiff International  GoSwiff International, the global financial solutions provider headquartered in Singapore, has strengthened its management team with the appointment of Sherlina Chew as global head of HR. She will be responsible for championing the development of the function and leading the spectrum of HR services across regions. She will also drive strategic HR business plans, talent management and align human capital priorities, and will be based in Singapore. Mark Patrick, GoSwiff’s CEO, said: “We are proud to have Sherlina join our team of international experts. With staff from over 30 countries and operations in 25 countries, we will greatly benefit from Sherlina’s vast experience both in global companies and banks.” She was previously VP and HR business partner for Société Générale Corporate & Investment Bank.

personalgrowth SHOULD YOU BAN SMARTPHONES IN THE OFFICE? Texting may be the biggest productivity killer in the office, but Jerene Ang wonders whether officially terminating smartphone usage will do more harm than good. If you look around the train on your daily commute to work, chances are you’ll be able to spot people playing Candy Crush, watching soaps or checking their email on their smartphones. Perhaps, you are even reading this article on a smartphone. While these pocket-computers can be particularly useful for checking emails on the go, they can also be a major distraction in the workplace. Recently, CareerBuilder released a survey about how smartphones/texting is the biggest productivity killer in the workplace as cited by 55% of employers. That same survey found that 83% of workers have smartphones and 82% keep them within eye contact at work. More than six in 10 have also admitted to using it (at least) several times a day. The easy, and most obvious way of preventing the productivity drain is to ban smartphones altogether – get employees to place their phones in little lockers until lunchtime or the end of the workday. But is banning smartphones really going to help your productivity? Knowing that today’s workforce – which comprises mostly Millennials – does not like to be micro-managed, a complete smartphone ban might do more harm than good. A complete ban may not increase productivity by much, given the internet is accessible through work computers. It may also make work more difficult for those in teams with remote workers. Apart from that, it could potentially damage the organisation’s employer branding.

38 » Human Resources » July 2016

So what can HR do to prevent these little devices from sapping the productivity of the workforce? Instead of a complete ban on smartphones, a better approach to preventing smartphone use is to implement a policy to limit its use at work, if it really is a big issue at your workplace. Ensure the policy is reasonable, allows room for exceptions (for example, in the event of a personal emergency), is clearly communicated and strictly enforced. Better yet, have an open dialogue or town hall meeting with employees to address the issue of smartphones being a productivity killer and let employees come up with the solution. That way, a policy might not even be needed – sometimes employees just need a little reminder to manage their distractions and keep their productivity up.


July 2016 « Human Resources « 39

Workplace lessons I learnt from watching TV Aditi Sharma Kalra sees if all the binge TV watching can teach her a thing or two about work.

40 » Human Resources » July 2016

When I was a kid, some evenings hot

enough to cause heat strokes in the Delhi summer earned me the privilege of spending time (after homework) sipping lemonade and watching TV shows in the cool indoors. No one can complain with an episode of Full House or Small Wonder. Even as an adult, I’ve spent countless weekends binge-watching some of my favourite TV shows, and somewhere along the line, I ended up deriving lessons for both work and life from the characters’ imaginary lives. Take for instance, one of my all-time favourites, the US adaptation of British TV comedy series created by Ricky Gervais, The Office. Set in Scranton, Pennsylvania, it featured the lives of employees at a paper company called Dunder Mifflin – their relationships, politics and power, lasting nine reasonably successful seasons. Most likely you can relate to the everyday situations the characters find themselves in – the know-it-all high-performer Dwight Schrute, the sensitive and intelligent Jim Halpert and the kind and compassionate Pam Beesly – led by the oblivious regional manager, Michael Scott. Scott has to be one of the most memorable TV bosses. He’s a terrific salesperson, no doubt the skill that put him in charge of the Scranton branch, but his people skills are definitely unconventional. Instead of putting his head around the strategy to hit next quarter’s sales targets, he spends most of his time on the office floor, talking to his people, giving them advice (at times, questionable), and generally leaving a trail of distractions and havoc. Again, his methods were not always appropriate or sensitive, but the guy sure knew how to build company culture. In being forced to manage their boss, the team at Scranton really rallied together to function more as a family than as colleagues. In parallel, the Scranton branch was even cited as among the company’s most profitable. Most importantly, Scott’s style of management ensured there was plenty of humour as well as heart at the workplace – reminding us not to take ourselves too seriously while at work. Business goals might be the end result, but for me, and many other Lighthousers, goals don’t need to be achieved with frowns on our faces.

Another show that has captured the entertainment mind space for decades is The Simpsons, set in Springfield, with the head of the family, Homer Simpson, working at a nuclear plant. Kate Woodley, managing director of international assessment specialist cut-e in Singapore and Australia, calls out an episode where we see Homer and his colleagues at the nuclear power plant disengaged and unhappy under the leadership of Springfield’s resident mogul, Montgomery “Monty” Burns. “We see the impact of this poor leadership: reduced efficiency, absenteeism and dangerous decisions made by the front line, who care more about eating doughnuts and skiving off work than about their role at the power plant,” she says. To her, this teaches the importance of an engaged workforce at every level which should be supported by a people-focused leadership team. With all this talk about TV shows, Human Resources’ senior journalist Akankasha Dewan (AK) got in on the fun, and told me about her current favourite, Suits. “Always back your team – because that is one of the best ways to earn their trust and keep them engaged,” she tells me (perhaps hinting at what I should be learning from the show, eh AK?). This philosophy is constantly reiterated in Suits that features a successful corporate lawyer named Harvey Specter and his degree-less associate Mike Ross, where the concept of the show rests on Specter having hired Ross despite knowing that while talented, Ross is not trained in law. But, of course, Ross makes mistakes, and often does not know details that a professionally trained lawyer should. In such situations, AK explains, Specter steps up to take responsibility for the actions of his subordinate and provides guidance. “The fact that he does this for all of his subordinates, and not just for Ross, proves the value he sees in building a mutual support system among his team and showing them he’s there for them when they need him,” she says. “It’s therefore little wonder that all junior lawyers in the firm constantly pine for, and work hard to get, Specter’s attention.”

Photography: Elliot Lee, Nikon Ambassador (Singapore) –; Makeup & Hair: Michmakeover using Make Up For Ever & hair using Sebastian Professional –



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