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Issue 10.8

issues Special Feature HR’s past, present and future – from 2002 to 2018


100th issue Special

Special feature 16 Speeding ahead Since the first issue of HRM over eight years ago, there have been plenty of events and changes in Singapore business and management strategy - it’s been a tumultuous, but ultimately inspiring, period for the builders of people. This special report looks at the development of HR in Singapore since 2002, and also asks what the next eight years might bring. It includes insight from a number of Goverment, business and HR leaders including:

Low Peck Kem

Halimah Yacob

Elizabeth Martin Chua

Tharman Shanmugaratnam

Tommy Ng

Caroline Lim

In this special feature “Increasingly, it is no longer discretionary, but compulsory, for companies to embrace the strategic role of HR” Caroline Lim, Global Head of HR and Corporate Affairs, PSA


Traffic Manager


Senior Graphic Designer

Paul Howell Shalini Shukla Sumathi V Selvaretnam Ananya Mukherjee

Patsy Ang

Amos Lee

Graphic Designer

John Paul Lozano

Regional Sales Director

Evelyn Lim

Account Managers

May Wong Yogesh Chandiramani Charlene Lim

General Manager

Lucinda Maguire

Regional Managing Editor

George Walmsley

Managing Director

Richard Curzon

photography by

Mark Stennett Photography Zurina Bryant Photography printed By

Times Printers Pte Ltd

MICA (P) 158/07/2010 ISSN 0219-6883

Published by: Key Media Pte Ltd 121 Telok Ayer Street #02-01 Singapore 068590 • T: +65 6423-4631 • F: +65 6423-4632 • E:

issue 10.8



100th issue Special



48 Features 33 What’s the Big Secret?

65 Soft Focus

38 Modern Ringmaster

70 Agile Training

48 Leading the Pack

79 Measuring Performance

55 The Last Line

85 Many Choices; Same Challenges

Most employers are tight-lipped about salaries as they don’t want staff to feel less valued than their peers. But is that the only way? HRM asks if there is any room for transparency Simon Lupini, company manager for Cirque du Soleil’s Zaia in Macau, explains some of the unique challenges involved with managing young, creative, and globally-mobile talent The Economic Development Board has been positioning Singapore as a choice location for business, innovation and talent. HRM asks how it develops its internal talent pool, so it can develop the country The competitive talent market has brought counter offers back in a big way. However, adopting such a strategy can be a double-edged sword, as HRM finds out

Running a successful business today requires more than just technical expertise, staff also need to be able to reach out to people and build relationships. Soft skills training programmes can help them go that extra mile Agilent Technologies spends half a million dollars each year on training programmes for its Thailand and Malaysia operations. Leadership development is a core focus Keeping track of an employee’s performance is crucial for an organisation’s long-term success. HRM examines the different metrics used to quantify and reward top talent International relocations can make for challenging work. HRM looks some of the key issues organisations, HR and staff need to consider to ensure smooth transitions at both ends of the assignment

Regulars 6 News

92 Restaurants

98 Talent Ladder

103 Talent Feature

14 Leaders on Leadership 90 MICE

94 Resources

99 In Person

104 Executive Appointments

96 Twenty-four Seven

101 Talent Challenge

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


issue 10.8

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100th issue Special

Contents In circulation since April, 2002, HRM celebrates its 100th issue this month. Joining the usual line up of Singapore’s best HR news, features and commentary for this special edition are four exclusive contributions from some of the biggest names in HR around the world

“Congratulations to HRM Singapore on reaching this milestone of 100 issues. Best wishes on your next 100!”




“Let me congratulate the publishing staff, editors, authors and readers. HRM has played a significant role in providing timely and insightful articles that guide the HR work in Singapore (which is) quickly becoming a center of HR expertise”




“I wish to congratulate HRM Magazine on their 100th issue. This is a great achievement, and I commend you for being a leader in promoting best practices for HR”

Dr Stephen



“Congratulations on your 100th issue; you don’t look a day over 50! We love HRM Magazine almost as much as a good Chili Crab. Keep the good ideas coming, and here’s to 1000 more issues!”

74 4

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Safety first A tragic accident has helped bring forward safety regulations for organisations transporting foreign workers on the back of lorries in Singapore – but are the new regulations enough?


ometimes it takes a tragedy to spark change – although in this case there have been several such tragedies over many years. The instigator was a single-vehicle accident on Singapore’s Pan-Island Expressway on June 22. The lorry

was carrying foreign workers when it skidded, and came off the road, before tipping. Three of the foreign workers died when they were thrown from the lorry and another 14 were injured. They had been on their way to work, using the only transport provided by their employer.


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An estimated 200,000 labourers in Singapore get to work each day on the back of open air lorries. Whilst those travelling in cars, or in the front cabin of such lorries, must by law wear a seatbelt, the transport of workers on the back of a lorry is completely legal. The only real restriction being that they carry a maximum number of passengers – up to one for every four square feet available. With some employers reluctant to change these transport arrangements, the Singapore Government initiated new safety regulations last year which are now being fast tracked to start in February 2011. But are these regulations enough? Unrestrained passengers will still be allowed on the beds of trucks and lorries, but now there must be side railings of at least 70 centimeters, a canopy and wet weather cover. The amount of space per passenger has also been increased to eight square feet. Halimah Yacob, Deputy Secretary General of the National Trades Union Congress, says this is an important step. But more should be taken. “Apart from the higher side railings and canopies, I feel that an added precaution will be safety belts,” she tells HRM, adding that more stringent licensing requirements are also needed for foreign drivers. “The best option is for workers to be carried in buses as lorries are meant for goods and not people.” Yacob was one of several parliamentarians who successfully argued for a fast-tracked introduction of the new laws. Originally scheduled to apply from 2012, concern voiced after the June 22 accident helped convince Minister for Transport Raymond Lim to speed up the timetable. The regulations will now apply


to light lorries, registered since 1 January 2010, from February next year; with older and heavy lorries expected to meet requirements by 1 August 2011. John Gee, President of the Transient Workers Count Too advocacy group, has welcomed the fast-forward regulations but says the overall impact on safety will be minimal. “The canopy goes to protection from the elements,” he says. “That’s not a safety feature as such. “The higher railings on the sides will give some enhanced protection but it’s not like having an enclosed shell. In a collision, there will be no (extra) protection.” Instead, Gee urges businesses considering upgrading their lorries to go one step further and get ahead of the law. “We’d encourage businesses to take the next step pretty quickly,” Gee says – speaking about a move to all transport being undertaken in fully enclosed vehicles. “Investing in those changes will have a much longer term impact.” His organisation is urging the Land Transport Authority to work toward this end solution. “We realise that this will impose additional costs upon contractors, but consider that the toll in lost lives and injuries under existing arrangements could be significantly reduced by this means.”

improve workplace safety. While businesses of all sizes have worked hard to combat workplace injuries, the same attitude is not shared when it comes to ferrying workers there and back. “It is double standards to impose stringent safety requirements at the workplace but to expect much lower standards the minute the worker leaves the factory gate,” she says. What’s more, accidents or fatalities occurred transporting workers do not count as a workplace incidents. Workplace deaths are recorded on one ledger – and have been happily falling in recent years – while road accidents, even those transporting workers to and from the workplace, become part of the national road toll only.

Just a few years? Gee says there is significant public pressure to end the practice of open-backed lorry transport altogether, with a number of Parliamentarians already registering their support. Despite the costs to employers of changing the practice, Gee is optimistic, saying it is only a matter of time before the new regulations are superseded by a blanket ban. “I’d say this will happen within two or three years.” Let’s hope so.

“The best option is for workers to be carried in buses as lorries are meant for goods and not people” Halimah Yacob, Deputy Secretary General of the National Trades Union Congress

The business case Any employers reluctant to make the necessary changes should also be reminded of the business case for improved safety. Every accident costs an organistion in terms of healthcare, downtime, reduced employee morale, and in the worst case scenarios, compensation payments. Investments that reduce those risks will find their way to the bottom line, even if the financial benefits are not immediately quantifiable. Yacob says whatever short term savings businesses make from transporting workers unsafely are not worth the risk. “Cost is not a valid trade off for workers’ safety.” She also highlights how unsafe transport provisions negate many of the positive steps taken to

Regulations brought forward Raymond Lim, Minister for Transport, announced the following changes to road safety regulations on July 19. (i) All light lorries used to transport workers (at least 700mm) will have to be fitted with canopies and higher side railings within the next six months, that is by 1 February 2011. Heavy lorries used to transport workers will need to comply by 1 August 2011. (ii) The doubling of the minimum deck space requirement per seated worker to eight square feet will be implemented for both light and heavy lorries by 1 August 2011.

issue 10.8






Wage target set

Jobs turned down

$3100 per month. That’s the It takes more than an attractive offer to land the best target median wage that candidates – at least in this talent drought. The latest Singapore’s Economic Strategies research from Hudson shows more and more Committee is hoping to see candidates are turning down job offers. Many are in Singapore by 2020. choosing from multiple options but some are also The current median wage holding out for more attractive positions in the future. is $2400 a month, indicating a According to the latest Hudson Report on local targeted increase of almost one third. hiring in Singapore, some 40% of employers had a job Finance Minister Tharman offer declined in the six months to the end of June. Georgie Chong, executive general manager, Hudson, Shanmugaratnam says he is confident of success but employers will need to play a big says this is a symptom of the Asia-wide talent role. “Grow productivity, grow wages and shortage but there are some things employers can do to reduce the impact. grow profits - that’s what it really boils down “The critical thing now for employers to look at is actually to re-engage their to,” he told a dialogue for the release of the workforces,” she said. “It’s time to go back to your employees to thank them for seeing you through the really hard times. ESC’s 2010 report and budget. “It means basically talking to them about their aspirations within the company. It Employees need to be inspired and motivated in their jobs and it is up to employers means dusting off the learning and development plans that were frozen last year. It means and HR to maintain that enthusiasm. giving them a good bonus.” “And how do you get this different While many jobs are being turned down, the majority of employment offers are motivation going,” he succeeding – eventually. And employment growth looks set to asked. “It’s not just about grow further in the next quarter as well. incentives, it’s not the Some 57% of respondents to the Hudson Report research promise of bonuses, it is said they were likely to increase their headcount over the three the feeling that they are months to October 31. This is more than double the contributing to the percentage recorded at the same time last year. company as a whole and the way the industry is The average civil servant moving ahead.” wage in the Maldives;

US$859 a month the highest in South Asia


Harassment laws questioned Employers in Malaysia who fail to consider sexual harassment complaints could soon be fined up to RM10,000 (US$3120). The amendment is part of a slew of proposed changes to the national Employment Act – and both employers and women’s rights activists are preparing for a fight. Shamsuddin Bardan, executive director of the Malaysia Employers Federation, says the law is not needed, and is liable to be used maliciously by employees. “The proposed amendment is imposing an instruction with a penalty if the employers fail (to investigate),” he said, adding that


issue 10.8

most companies were already fully investigating all complaints. “Since the establishment of the Code of Practice on the Prevention and Eradication of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace, less than 500 cases (of failure to investigate) have been reported to the ministry; that is less than 50 a year,” he said. “This does not warrant legislation.” But Ivy Josiah, Executive Director of the Women’s Aid Organisation, says only 3% of companies are actively following the code and legislation is needed to bring the rest into line. “If employers are confident that they are addressing sexual harassment well, the law is just a reinforcement of their commitment,” she says. Bardan also worries that employers could be held to ransom through the legislation. “What happens if the complaints

were malicious in nature,” he asks. “Can the company dismiss the complainant for making false or malicious complaints?” The proposed changes will apply only to workers earning less than RM1500 (US$468) a month, although Josiah’s group is keen to see the threshold expanded to at least RM2000 (US$624) a month.



Hong Kong

Minimum wage in sight The Hong Kong Legislative Council has passed the special administrative region’s first minimum wage law – but only after 41 hours of debate. The bill, which has been a contentious issue splitting business and labour unions for many years – was finally voted up on July 17. It will come into effect from 2011. But the bill is still missing one important part – the actual minimum wage itself has yet to be decided. A government-appointed task group is still researching proposed wage floors, with Chief Executive Donald Tsang

expected to finalise the decision by October. Labour unions have been pushing for a minimum wage of HK$33 (US$4.23) per hour. Either way, not all workers will enjoy the new protections. Live-in domestic workers from foreign countries will be specifically excluded, the government noting that it can be difficult to calculate the time spent in their jobs. Most foreign workers also receive non-financial benefits, including housing, meals or flight tickets, as part of their negotiated packages, it says.



US$1.65 an hour

Electric blues

Australian authorities are investigating claims that a Chinese company imported workers illegally and then underpaid them by as much as 86% of the applicable minimum wage. The 24 workers were hired to dismantle heavy machinery at the former Mitsubishi car plant near Adelaide. For their hard labour, it is alleged that they were paid as little as A$1.90 (US$1.65) per hour. The (federal) Australian minimum wage at the time was A$14.31 (US$12.43), creating a shortfall of more than A$131,000 (US$114,000). Australia’s Fair Work Ombudsman has launched action against the Chinese registered China SANAN Engineering Construction Corporation. It also says the workers entered the country on visas intended only for short-stay business trips. These expired after three months and were later cancelled by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union conducted its own investigation into the working arrangements of China SANAN, but says the company claimed the Chinese nationals were engineers, not labourers.

Both employers and labour groups are protesting an increase in electricity prices across Indonesia. They say the price hike will erode business competitiveness and thereby reduce job security for staff. The National Government – through its statecontrolled power firm PT PLN – announced increases to electricity tariffs throughout the nation in July. It stated that no business or household would see their bills rise by more than 15%. But calculations by business groups found this to be far off the mark. Sofjan Wanandi, chairman of the Indonesian Employers Association, says the national Government has increased the tariffs on some consumers by up to 100%. This, combined with the free trade agreement with China, will allow foreign products to flood the local market, he is reported to have said. Some manufacturing plants have threatened to cut down their headcounts if PT PLN continues to charge them the maximum usage rates. Workers are expected to be double-hit by the price increases. As well as job insecurity, they are expecting to face increases in the costs of basic commodities and education. Responding to criticism, the government now says 18% is the maximum price hike that electricity customers should face.


18 years’ salary returned A 51 year-old hotel employee has won praise and accolades from around the world after returning US$50,000 cash left behind by a guest. Essa Khan, 51, a rank-and-file worker with the Serena Hotel in Gilget, says he never once thought about keeping the money. That’s despite it representing more than 18 years of his current 21,000 rupees (US$235) a month salary.


issue 10.8

“My duty with the hotel and my family upbringing teaches me nothing else,” he told the BBC later. “Times are hard for everyone, but that doesn’t mean we should start stealing and taking things which do not belong to us.” Hotel manager Rajiduddin says his staff routinely return items of value but never before has there been lost property of “such

magnitude”. He says Khan has been duly rewarded by the company. Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer is also expected to bestow a gift on the honest worker. The guest, a Japanese national, was relieved to have the cash returned, saying he had not been able to figure out where or how he lost it.




New Zealand

Still waiting for the rebound

Dismissal law to continue

Many employees who took pay cuts to avoid redundancies during the recession are still waiting for their salaries to be reinstated. A survey by recruitment consultants Badenoch and Clark has found that 77% of people who accepted lower salaries during the recession have not yet seen their pay return to original levels. However, employees are choosing to stay optimistic, with 76% of them expecting to get this revision over the coming months. But that loyalty is not endless. Badenoch and Clark says employees who are paid less may already be looking elsewhere for new work opportunities. Non-financial incentives like flexible working and access to relevant training are still helping to stem some of the outflow, the company says. According to its survey, some 38% of employees (who are still working for lower pay) have accepted flexible working hours in the meantime. 16% are making do with telecommuting opportunities while 17% of them have been offered additional annual leave to make up the financial shortfall.

The New Zealand government plans to extend a 90-day probation period for all new hires. This enables companies to fire staff within the first three months of employment, with no explanation required. Introduced last year, the scheme was originally targeted at companies with fewer than 20 staff. The Government is now considering extending the regulation to all companies, regardless of size. The move is part of the government’s plans to rewrite a number of employment laws. Another change under consideration is enabling bosses to refuse union access to the workplace. Unions in New Zealand are viewing all the changes with caution. They say dismissal without a reason can be a devastating experience for some young people – and does not give unproductive or “poor-fit” workers an opportunity to improve. New Zealand’s opposition Labour Party says refusing union access to workplaces is a violation of employee rights.


Graduate tax concerns Graduates will be receiving bigger tax bills from their first jobs, if a new education financing plan gets off the ground. Vince Cable, Business Secretary for the recently elected coalition government, says he is considering a “graduate tax” that students would pay only after their studies are completed. This would replace many up-front tuition fees already in place but also some Government funding. Cable says it is only fair to move to a more “user-pays” system for higher education. “We’re going to have to develop a model in which the

balance of funding for higher education in England combines less public support and more private investment from those who benefit most from it,” he said recently. Some students are likely to pay back more under the planned arrangements. But representative groups say the scheme is “fairer”. University staff, however, have warned the plan is being used to mask overall funding cuts to the sector.


Pension and wage deal reached After months of intense negotiation and street protests, Greece’s government has passed several key “austerity” measures to help bring its budget deficit under control. Under the changes, public sector retirement policies will be brought into line with those of the less generous private sphere. Early retirement has been specifically ruled out and the retirement age of women has been raised.


issue 10.8

Wages have also been frozen for this year. Increases from 2011 will be strictly in line with official inflation figures for the Euro zone for at least two years. Protest numbers have dwindled but there is still plenty of anger about the changes. “They are tearing our social security system apart,” one unionist said. “It’s unfair for young people - if they ever manage to get a job, they will retire when

they are 100 years old.” Theodore Coloumbus, vice-chairman of a think-tank closely linked to the budget process, says the changes are vital if Greece is to stay solvent. “The measures passing through parliament are extremely painful but necessary,” he said. “The news in general creates a cautious optimism that Greece will manage to avoid bankruptcy.”




Maid conditions in the spotlight The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is discussing a set of labour standards for the domestic help industry. This could lead to the first international convention on domestic workers conditions. The convention would cover areas such as time off, freedom of movement and communication, as well as overtime work. Domestic helpers are considered to be among the lowest paid and least protected categories of workers throughout the world. The proposal for a convention has now gone through the first round of discussions. A two-thirds majority vote is needed from ILO members for an official standard to be adopted. The final vote is scheduled to take place in June 2011. If the convention is adopted, the 182 member countries – including Singapore and Hong Kong – will need to present the standards to their relevant national bodies for the enactment of legislation or ratification. Countries will be legally bound to ensure compliance. The convention is expected to serve as an international benchmark for domestic workers’ rights and protections.


It pays to get dressed A German police officer has earned himself an extra week of leave, after a court there agreed that the time he spent getting dressed for work each morning should be compensated. Martin Schauder, a 44-year-old officer, calculated that strapping on trousers, shirt, tank-top, boots and a belt – not to mention his pistol and handcuffs – took 15 minutes out of each work day. He argued that this daily ritual amounted to overtime that his employer should pay for. The court agreed, but capped the wardrobe-related leave-in-lieu at only one year’s worth, or 45 to 50 hours in total. Having served his local police force for 28 years, a retrospective ruling could have meant up to six months of paid vacation. Still, local authorities are likely to appeal the ruling, particularly as the test case is one of several hundred similar grievances from police officers still awaiting their days in court.

issue 10.8


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Ralph Kotterer Managing Director Adidas, Southeast Asia

The Adidas Group has four core values which we passionately adhere to: performance, passion, integrity and diversity. We promote high performance by the methodical engagement of our teams to drive employee satisfaction, which in turn, drives commitment, and performance. We engage our team in: » Performance Management: Our Global Performance Evaluation and Planning tools measure each team member against clearly defined competencies » Performance-driven remuneration: We reward our teams with competitive benefit packages on the basis of their individual and the company’s target achievements. We are crystal clear of what the targets are, we measure set KPIs and reward accordingly. » Talent and Succession Management: With globally-designed tools and processes, we identify talents on all hierarchical levels and actively manage their individual developments to ensure an adequate pool of successors for management and executive positions. We create an attractive and diverse work environment with adequate resources while providing flexible working arrangements to enable individual work-life-balance solutions.

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CONSULTING issue 10.8


Speeding ahead

HR’s past, present 16

issue 10.8

100th issue Special

Over eight years and 100 issues, HRM has seen plenty of events and changes in Singapore business and management strategy. From the containment of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome to the ongoing development of HR technology solutions, it’s been a tumultuous, but inspiring, period for the builders of people. This special report looks at the development of HR in Singapore since 2002, and also asks what the next eight years might bring By Ananya Mukherjee

and future


ake any HR manager of today, find a working time machine, and set the dials to April 2002 – they’ll find themselves in a whole new (or old) world. Tucked into an office corner, a typical HR day could involve browsing through hundreds of paper files, sifting the necessary from the trash. Relationships are different too – the door says “personnel manager” but there’s rarely a chance to meet the CEO. Indeed, the only people coming are there to lodge complaints. Sandwiched between the employees and the employer, it can be issue 10.8


100th issue Special

difficult to ascertain which group should be represented, or why both seem to dislike the function. Head back to 2010, and things have changed dramatically – for the better. The personnel manager is now a fully-fledged HR professional, with a key role in writing and executing business strategy. If not already part of the highest decision-making levels, there is at least access and communication with C-Suite helm. And Caroline Lim, Global employers acknowledge the significant contribution of best Head, HR and Corporate Affairs, PSA practice recruiting, talent development, performance management, employee relations and compensation strategy. Moreover, these functions are fast becoming a blueprint for survival. “Most Singapore companies have come to recognise that effectively harnessing HR is a matter of corporate survival,” Caroline Lim, Global Head of HR and Corporate Affairs, PSA, says. “It is no longer discretionary but compulsory for companies to embrace the strategic role of HR.” HR-watchers can expect just as dramatic a shift in the profession over the next eight years as well. With technology changing every day, and the talent crunch forcing employers to get the most out of each and every staff member, the focus on HR is set to continue. Even without a time machine, it’s clear HR’s role will move ever-closer to the very heart of business.

The top 5 HR challenges for 2010 to 2018 » Deploying a winning employee proposition to attain high employee engagement » Managing talent » Improving leadership development » Transforming HR into a strategic business partner » Managing work-life balance


issue 10.8

Plugging the talent gaps

This is not to say there are no challenges facing HR in the present day, far from it. At the top of the critical list on Singapore’s business landscape is the impending talent shortage that is set to hit organisations of all shapes and sizes. Elizabeth Martin-Chua, local HR expert and author, says businesses are again having to chase talent. Previously, the situation was the much more ideal reverse – with job candidates pulling out all stops to find work in their favoured organisations. Now, with the baby boom generation set to move into retirement with only smaller-sized age groups available to replace them, the talent crunch is set to move into a more permanent fixture. That means renewed importance will be placed on those HR roles directly related to employee numbers. “The ability to attract, grow and retain talent is now the most critical HR competence,” Martin-Chua says. While Singapore has seen talent crunches before, there are a number of differences with the present challenge. As well as the likely permanent nature, this shortage may be exacerbated by what is now a global market place for talent.

100th issue Special

Today, good hires can come from anywhere in the world. But on the flip side of this geographically-free reign to hire, there is the free range to roam. PSA’s Lim says this makes the attraction and retention of talent a constant challenge. “Quite paradoxically, we could say that talent has become global and yet scarce,” she says.

A foreign question

Over the past eight years, Singapore’s open door policy to foreign employment has drawn top talent from all over the globe. It’s typically a win-win situation, with the country and local business enjoying the skills and learning opportunities that such staff provide, while expatriates take advantage of the enriching lifestyle available. Research shows Singapore is one of the most attractive economies to foreign high-skilled professionals, as well as lower-paid foreign workers. However, the most recent recession caused some irreparable damage to this understanding. Foreign Workers in Singapore, 1970 to 2009 During the last two crisis-hit years in 2008 and 2009, economic growth declined to 1.1% and 2.1% Year Total labour force Foreign workers Percentage respectively. This was a noticeable slump from the 1970 650,892 20,828 3.2 % four decades of average real growth of more than 8% annually. A review of Singapore’s economy by 1980 1,077,090 119,483 7.4 % the government-appointed Economic Strategies 1990 1,537,000 248,000 16.1 % Committee (ESC) accepted an idea that many Singaporeans had argued for some time – that it 2000 2,094,800 612,200 29.2 % was no longer sustainable to grow the economy by 2009 3,030,000 1,044,000 34.4 % expanding the foreign workforce. This had been the basic strategy since 1990 Sources: Compiled from Rahman, 1999:7 (for 1970 and 1980), – when only 16% of the then 1.5 million people in Singapore Department of Statistics, 2001:43 (for 1990 and 2000), the Singapore labour force called another country and MOM Report on Labour Force (2009) home. Fast forward to today, and the ratio has climbed to just over one third of five million. The ESC concluded that this figure is close to the peak feasible proportion. “We cannot increase the number of foreign workers as liberally as we did over the last decade, or else we will run up against real physical and social limits,” it said. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong clarified the notion further. “We cannot expect to continue booming as we have done up to 2007”, he said toward the end of the financial crisis. “The world economy has changed and it will be quite some time before it picks up like this again. “We already have almost a million foreigners working here and we cannot imagine simply expanding year after year. We just do not have the space for that.”

The growing market for international skills


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100th issue Special

Low Peck Kem, Divisional Director, National HR, Ministry of Manpower

That will mean extra pressure for talent managers looking ahead at the next eight years and beyond. No longer will they be able to rely solely on overseas skills and talent for their leadership and specialist needs – the local workforce will also need to be involved and developed. Fortunately, that has already begun happening – with many organisations taking advantage of foreign talent to help upskill their local workforces over the past decade.

Changing demographics

From 2012, employers will be


As revealed above, Singapore’s workforce – both local and foreign – is now undergoing a significant change in to offer reemployment to workers demographics. Low Peck Kem, divisional director, National who have reached the current HR, Ministry of Manpower, says this has meant that statutory retirement age of 62 differentiating between generations and tailoring HR policies more closely to the individual have become a high priority for HR. “We need to create an inclusive environment which continuously motivates and challenges the workforce to contribute and work as one,” she tells HRM. “The need to groom a new generation of leaders has put the focus on developing the leadership pipeline from the new generation.” As the baby boom generation begins to retire, many organisations have responded by giving new challenges to their youngest staff. But Martin-Chua says early development of junior leaders can also backfire. “They (employers) have not taken into account that the younger leaders have certain gaps Mark Whatley, Director, Benefits, Southeast Asia, Towers Watson says: “The proposed (reemployment) legislation appears to provide employers with a flexible mechanism for retaining older employees, that experience can only fill – rather than simply mandating a higher statutory retirement age. Reemployment will enable employers (they) may make mistakes that are to continue to tap into employees’ expertise and experience, whilst employees will be able to not obvious in the short run,” she continue to contribute for longer and help prepare themselves financially for retirement. However, it is says. “The ability to use older too early to garner reactions. leaders as mentors and coaches and “Employers should be planning now to ensure their HR policies take into account the impending have younger leaders in the driving legislation. They should be thinking about how they communicate their policies to employees, seat is a smart move.” particularly those who are approaching retirement age. Employers should also be looking at the So too is keeping staff on for as benefits offered to these employees – in particular insurance and medical benefits –and, where long as possible when they close in necessary, discuss terms and conditions with their providers.” on that retirement date, or perhaps even surpass it. This is particularly true in light of new reemployment

Reemployment laws: an expert’s opinion

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HR SUMMIT 2011 26 & 27 May 2011 • Marina Bay Sands Singapore

Asia’s most popular HR event just got bigger

Official Venue

100th issue Special

Towards 2018: What are you expecting? laws that will come into effect in Singapore from 2012. From then, local employers will be required to offer reemployment to workers who have reached the current statutory retirement age of 62.

Staying fair

HR will become even more important, especially in Asia where there will be much expansion in economic activity. It will gain more professional recognition and leaders will accord it the respect and importance that it rightly deserves. This is inevitable as the company that has the right human capital will succeed. Look at Apple. With the right talent and leadership, they continue to create new products, new demands and new markets. Companies that do not invest in human capital may succeed with short term cost-cutting but they may eventually run out of steam. This trend will, however, bring to bear the competence of HR. With the new demand and rising stature of HR, incumbents will need a new vision of how they can contribute, how they can reshape corporate culture, leadership, talent, structure and processes to maximise the contribution of humans on one hand and their enjoyment on the other. The work-life balance of human beings is taking on a new meaning.

Demographics may change, but Singapore has always been a naturally cosmopolitan and multicultural society. With such variety in race, religion and age, fair employment ideals are a must for organisations looking to grow. But while most employers do now operate a purely merit-based selection regime, the benefits did need to be highlighted, a practice that is still ongoing today. Since its inception in 2006, The Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP) has worked to promote fair employment in Singapore. The organisation claims significant success – with more than 40% of employers now aware of its official guidelines. More importantly, they are learning the direct advantages that fair employment practices can offer. “A company that is known to treat its workers fairly will have a better chance of attracting and retaining them in our highly competitive labour market,” Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean says. “The outcome can be a more motivated and productive workforce, translating to lower turnover rates, which can result in real savings for the company.” Since TAFEP revamped the Tripartite Guidelines to NonDescriminatory Job Advertisements in 2006, the rate of offending notices has fallen from 19.7% to just 1% last year. Halimah Yacob, co-chairperson of TAFEP, says new initiatives over the next eight years are likely to centre on further educating the public and co-workers on their roles for enshrining fair employment practices. “The responsibility for fair employment falls on all parties,” she says. “Besides encouraging and enabling employers to adopt fair employment, we will continue to increase broad-based awareness amongst the public as part of a holistic approach.”

Contingency planning: A case in point Most companies now have proper contingency plans to screen and isolate individuals who may be a health risk to others. PSA, a shipping operation, has devised plans that allow for the possibility of the vast majority of headquarters staff to working from home if the need arises. This will minimise person-to-person contact for different teams, but still allow important work to be completed. Caroline Lim, global head of HR and corporate affairs, says the plans need to become instinctual for all stakeholders. Plans on paper are not good enough,” she says. “We have to conduct mock exercises to familiarise staff with them.”

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100th issue Special

Towards 2018: What are you expecting? Few countries at our level of development have achieved productivity growth exceeding 2% per year over a full decade. We can grow productivity by 2% to 3% per year for the next ten years, thereby taking productivity up to a level that is one third higher than where it is today. This can be achieved because we are capable of a major national effort. We are capable of doing this consistently and in a concerted fashion with everyone playing their part – the Government, the unions, businesses and individuals. We believe Singapore can achieve this. What matters to individuals, what matters to the Singaporeans, is really productivity growth. If we can raise productivity, we can raise incomes. We achieved 1% in the last decade, we can achieve 2% to 3% per year in the next decade. It will mean higher real incomes. And in particular, as we raise the skills of those at the lower end of the workforce, we help them move up.

Taking care of business

No one could have guessed that airplanes would fly into two of the USA’s tallest buildings in September, 2001, nor did anyone have an idea that seemingly harmless chickens and ducks could cause $15 billion damage to Asian economies in March, 2003. But those things did happen – and the one lesson that businesses and organisations have learned is to be prepared for the unexpected. From the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to the Severe Acute Respirtory Syndrome pandemic to the Indian Ocean tsunami to more recent Avian flu fears, the past decade has seen a rising demand for structured business continuity planning. And Extract from an Economic Strategies Committee press conference. February, 2010. it has been up to HR to advocate and implement these vital strategies. Peck Kem, says HR in Singapore is certainly well-practiced in this area now. “HR has been forced to actively explore initiatives like telecommuting and remote access,” she says. “This has made HR better understand the workforce composition and aggressively explore alternative manpower supply and workplace alternatives.”

Creative compensation

One of the starkest areas of change since the first issue of HRM landed on desks eight years ago has been centred on compensation and benefits. In essence, this is now being handled with significantly more creativity and attention to detail. From the traditional fixed and variable components of compensation, HR has introduced more flexible benefits, flexible work arrangements and both monetary as well as non-monetary benefits over the years. There has also been an added emphasis on equity rewards – shares and stock options – for senior staff. This aims to increase the sense of ownership


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100th issue Special

Towards 2018: What are you expecting?

and accountability that executives offer. But it does also mean greater variability in The one thing that will change is overall pay for many workers. the quality of HR Managers who More companies are also structuring join the workforce. In the past, HR their benefits more flexibly to meet the Managers entered the profession needs of employees from various age groups by chance and not by choice. Most and profiles. For example, PSA introduced were involved in some related functions like administration or the “Flex-Points” system a few years ago. industrial relations. But increasingly the landscape has changed. I This allows employees to use “earned” see new entrants choosing HR as a specific career of choice. They points towards a whole host of benefits, “ala have real interest in managing people and possess passion for people development. Naturally, their perspectives of HR would be carte style”, Lim says. beyond the basics. They are more in tune with the business, consciously aligning HR The innovation is set to continue over to the organisational demands and needs. Also, they can better engage, attract and the next eight years as well. As the youngest retain the new generation of workforce. generation becomes more entrenched in the workforce, so too should its particular demand for flexible work arrangements and tailored compensation become a common practice for organisations looking to recruit and retain the best talent. Peck Kem says the ability to tailor compensation and benefit packages to the individual employee will increasingly become a major part of an organisation’s employer brand. This should be a high consideration when contemplating that change.

Technology evolution

If compensation has been one of the biggest changes affecting HR over the last eight years, then technology can only be a close second. HR information systems (HRIS) have become increasingly sophisticated in that time. By 2002, such systems were able to give managers an overview of areas like recruitment, compensation and benefits, expense reporting and training. Self-service applications built on data stored in these systems enabled employees to manage their own personal records and payroll details. This evolution in HR technology is transforming the HR professional’s role from that functional process to a more strategic one. Talent management software now provides an overview of the talent pool and helps management identify and retain top performers. It can also help organisations keep track of who is next-in-line for a promotion and aid succession planning. Research from the International Data Corporation predicts that the worldwide market for talent management software will reach $2.55 billion by 2012. Social networking has also come into being – to both the pleasure and dismay of HR. While some see networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook as the world’s greatest timewasters, others are seeing a unique advantage


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100th issue Special

in the groups of like minds that naturally form on these sites. Setting up an account on LinkedIn or Facebook requires few resources but greatly increases a company’s visibility, opening up a whole new market of potential candidates. Some HR management software today offer features that enable recruiters to set up their own forums and chat groups. Moving ahead, advances in web technology are set to make applications even more intelligent, Ari Kopoulos, National Sales and Marketing Manager, Employee Connect says. “While Web 2.0 enables you to publish a position on a recruitment job board, Web 3.0 will take your recruitment request and Tommy Ng, Senior Vice intelligently match you with President, corporate the perfect candidate, services, SMRT foresees: becoming more accurate as » Broader suite of leading you use it,” he says. and lagging indicators of Research firm Garner performance to ensure predicts that the HR alignment of performance measurement with firm strategies and values technology outsourcing » More rigorous approach to adjusting compensation delivery in line with market will be worth $1.1 the risk-time horizon billion worldwide by 2012. » More flexibility for the compensation committee to assess performance This could very well mean and make incentive awards that outsourcing companies » Institutionalisation of a framework for Compensation Governance will provide the majority of » A pro-active approach to co-opting shareholders in the development of HRIS processes and compensation strategies management in the future.

Emerging compensation trends

Future trends

While the last eight years has certainly been a time of significant change for HR professionals and those in the “talent” game, there is certainly more yet to come. Industry insiders predict that the next decade will be equally tumultuous – with both challenges and opportunities for HR professionals in Singapore and the wider Asia region. But at the same time however, employers will also see greater growth constraints than they have had in the past, in particular, because of a slower-growing workforce. And with both greater opportunities and greater constraints in play, HR will continue to play a large role in building organisational cultures that can cope. Industry professionals will continue to add value and help get the most out of every situation. issue 10.8



100th issue Special

with ken blanchard

Getting resilient In this 100th issue HRM exclusive interview, Ken Blanchard, co-author of the best-selling resource The One Minute Manager, explains the importance of tenacity and resiliency in today’s organisations


One of the things we hear a lot about today is the need for an organisation to be both resilient and tenacious. Can you talk a little bit about what these ideas mean to you?


When I think about the difference between resiliency and tenacity, what resiliency means to me is the characteristic an organisation has that keeps its people going, keeps them optimistic, and keeps them moving forward in hard times. Tenacity is the capacity to drive through tough times; it’s that energy you need to keep on going.


You’ve had the opportunity to work with hundreds of organisations over the past 30 years. What separates those that deal successfully with adversity from those that don’t?


One of the things I’ve said for a long time is that profit is the applause you get for taking care of your customers and creating a motivating environment for your people. The companies that deal well with tough times don’t forget that. Less successful companies sometimes become single-minded about the bottom line, the figures, and the results – they think that’s all that counts. They forget that without their people taking care of the customers they wouldn’t even issue 10.8


hrm interview

“Profit is the applause you get for taking care of your customers and creating a motivating environment for your people”

be there. And so the great organisations keep that really straight. What we have found is that in tough times, great organisations focus on their people and they do three things: One, they are bearers of hope. They keep on sending out positive messages. That doesn’t mean they turn their back on the truth of the present reality, but they are optimistic, instilling a sense that “we can get through this”. Second, they treat their people as their business partners, because if you want people to be on your side, you have to respect them. If you respect people, listen to them, and care about them, then they trust you and do their best for you. The third key is that leaders in these companies see themselves as “servant” leaders. What that really means is that it’s not about you as the leader. It’s recognising that you don’t own any of the resources at your disposal – it’s all on loan.


You mentioned trust. What’s the role of trust as organisations look to recover well from the economic recession?

blanchard: Trust begins with respect. Are

you talking with your people? Do you respect them enough to ask their opinions? To build trust, start by treating your people as your business partners, respecting them, and recognising that they have more answers than you. One of our favorite sayings in our company is “no one of us is as smart as all of us”. And when you talk about building trust, you’ve got to utilise your people; you’ve got to involve all of your people. When you respect them like that, they trust you.


What is the role of patience and persistence as it applies to tenacity and resilience?


I was fortunate enough a number of years ago to write a book with Norman Vincent Peale entitled The Power of Ethical Management: Integrity Pays! You Don’t Have to Cheat to Win. One of the things I learned from Norman that is powerful for both individuals and organisations is that you have to have a combination of patience and persistence.


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What does patience mean? It means things don’t always work out exactly when you want them to. Sometimes God has a different plan than we do. And you have to be patient and know that if you are doing what you are supposed to be doing, eventually it will work out. But when you start to lose your patience, what do you need? You need persistence. You need to drive forward. But patience and persistence have to go together.


What happens if an organisation isn’t prepared to be tenacious or resilient?


When an organisation is not tenacious or resilient, its people start to become disengaged. They disengage because they don’t believe their future is going to be bigger and better than their past. They also start to lose their belief in their ability to make a difference. That’s why it is so important for leaders to be bearers of hope, to involve their people as business partners, and to be a servant leaders who realise that it’s not about them. If that message gets through, people become tenacious, resilient, and willing to hang in there with you so you can get through tough times together.


Alternatively, what benefits can an organisation can expect if they build tenacity into their culture?


One of the great advantages is that when trials come along – which they will, because whoever heard of everything going great all the time? – people will be joyful even when it’s challenging. Why? Because they will think “this is a good challenge and we are up to it”. People with resiliency and tenacity look at tough times as an opportunity to be at their best. It’s a toughness of spirit. And that toughness doesn’t mean “let’s get rid of a whole bunch of people”. It’s a toughness that says “we can do this together”. When that type of spirit comes out loud and clear, people say, “Bring it on – this might be tough but we are going to make it through”.

For more information on The Ken Blanchard Companies, please contact their Asia office at 65-6775 1030 or email:

Nominations Now Open

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For more information & to make your nominations please visit


What’s the

big secret? Although many websites offer first hand information on salaries, most employers prefer to stay tight lipped on their compensation arrangements. But isn’t transparency a better alternative to salary secrecy? HRM’s Ananya Mukherjee considers both sides of the coin


never heard my Dad talk about how much money he made at work. And probably, no one else did either. “Never ask a lady her age or a man his salary,” he always said. Dad is also a granddad now – and plenty has changed in the typical work environment since he retired. But talking about salaries and compensation packages is still seen, almost universally, as inappropriate or impolite.

Employers have been happy to carry on their tradition. They like to keep salaries a secret because they don’t want their staff to think that they are less valuable than their counterparts that might have more experience or come from other companies that exposed them to more. As Joydeep Bose, President and the Global Head of HR for Olam International Limited, says only natural economic forces are involved. “Salaries in competitive talent issue 10.8



Case study

Semco’s “no secrets” policy Salary secrecy is often deemed to be critical to the bottom line, as it allows important salary differentiation and performance management. But the Brazilian diversified-interests Ricardo Semlar, Semco company Semco offers a unique template for profits through openness. Among a range of “workplace democratisation” strategies implemented during the 1980s, all salaries are transparent and debatable. The division of profits between workers and managers is fixed; and even expenditures need to be approved by a committee of workers’ representatives. Far from a fiscal disaster, Semco has become well-known throughout the world for the success of these initiatives. Its CEO Ricardo Semlar is a respected HR thought leader and visiting scholar to Harvard Business School.


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markets follow demand and supply trends in talent,” he says. “Therefore salaries are often customised to individual employees’ abilities, measured by performance, competency, criticality of skills and impact on business. In such a scenario neither employers nor employees would like salaries to be transparent.” The confidentiality, Bose underlines, also stems from the fact that salary is a private contract between the company and the individual employee. Further, variable pay linked to performance has become a significant element of overall compensation across all compensation and benefits packages in most economies. “Individual employees will be reluctant to have their performances and consequent incentives shared with other employees,” Bose says.

Politeness rules

Needless to say, most individuals consider their salaries to be personal matters and do not wish for their colleagues and friends to know the minute details. “There is an element of graciousness with this mentality,” Annabel Ang, Senior Consultant (HR Division) Robert Walters, says. “When you reveal your salary, you are potentially letting people know how well your organisation thinks you’ve performed and how much your organisation values you. This pertains to information on a level that is highly personal about yourself.” That said, there are individuals who choose to share salary details with close friends and/or colleagues, particularly if they are in a similar line of work. This helps them to corroborate that they are being paid fairly. Most international organisations are willing to spend money to ensure that they are paying their employees reasonably within a certain percentile of the market rate. Hence, sharing what is already transparent, may not be such a grave issue, after all. However, experts still argue that confidentiality in compensation is an overall plus


for the health of an organisation. Most meritocratic organisations practicing differentiation follow this practice, Bose says. “It leads to less comparison between employees on compensation amounts and consequently less dysfunctional behaviours.” However, he adds, publicly-listed companies are required to officially declare the compensation packages of some key management positions – giving shareholders transparency. Many public service organisations around the world also freely publish wage brackets, as part of their transparency commitments to taxpayers and stakeholders.

Business intelligence at stake

communication. While the organisation communicates on the rationale of individual incentive payouts, it also maintains uniform, written policies pertaining to base pay, annual incentives and long term incentives. “We actively welcome employees to approach managers or HR to clarify on issues of individual compensation.”

Sunlight helps

“Salaries are often customised to individual employees abilities” Joydeep Bose, President and Global Head of HR, Olam International

In most instances, there is no right or wrong For certain positions, employers may prefer to pertaining to why individuals or companies keep maintain salary secrecy for commercial and salary information a secret. “It is more of a confidential reasons. For instance, as Ang shares, preference on behalf of all involved,” Ang says. if salary is one of the methods used to attract staff, But while experts suggest secrecy is the organisations will not want their competitors to enemy of efficiency, that hasn’t applied to know what they are offering. This is particularly salary information. so for mid-senior level Opening up of positions and fresh salary information may graduates. “Some seem more dangerous industry experts claim in many workplaces Who can forget the Singapore primarily because the that salary secrecy has National Kidney Foundation enabled corporations to structures are not easily (NKF) scandal of 2005? Whilst better protect their defended. HR may not the $600,000 a year pay bottom lines and (also) have the exact metrics packet for CEO TT Durai was certainly higher than most to discriminate against to or performance would have expected, it was revealed during a certain groups of appraisals to explain defamation trial that he had also received annual bonuses of between 80% and 100% of that amount. people,” she says. “The why one worker is paid “Peanuts”, one observer had remarked – but perhaps other school of thought more than another the real problem was the surprise and secrecy. Had NKF is that employees can and its CEO been protect and empower transparent about the pay each other by sharing and other expenses, would their salary details and the donating public have confronting HR when felt such a betrayal of trust? they find major discrepancies.” HR at Olam discourages this by providing some limited transparency on salary matters. Bose says confidentiality in individual compensation does not necessarily mean zero

Reality bite

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Looking for salary information? While individual compensation may still be considered a private affair, there is plenty of research available to show how pay rates differ between employers and roles. These websites offer first-hand accounts: »» Allows individuals to input their salary information according to both role and company »» Offers free customised salary reports, with data sorted by job role and location »» Largely US-centred database of salary information

– after all, it is well known that some salaries are connected closer to the negotiation skills of individual workers than to actual output. Any attempt to bring wages into line will create conflict and a great deal of work for HR. There


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will be financial pain for some staff, and perhaps the organisation as a whole. But it’s possible that change is still one that’s worth taking. Indeed, market forces may eventually make it an inevitable one. The rapid expansion of social networking and online databases mean even the most specialised labour markets are set to experience a new transparency (see box on left). Add to that, the now comprehensive salary research being undertaken by recruitment and HR service providers, and it’s easy to imagine a time when employees will be better able to gauge their true worth. Theory the best talent will gravitate to those organisations that recognise this, with fair and transparent pay scales for all levels and functions. If sunlight really is the best disinfectant, that may bring some long-term rewards for those employers willing to take the risk.


While every effort has been taken to carry out instruction to customers satisfaction NO RESPONSIBILITY liablilty will be accepted for errors CUSTOMERS ARE THEREFORE URGED TO CHECK THOROUGHLY BEFORE AUTHORISING PRINT RUNS

leaders talk hr


ringmaster Clowns, trampolinists, acrobats and tight-rope walkers: the skill requirements for a modern circus show are certainly unique. But for Cirque du Soleil’s Zaia production in Macau, that’s just one of several unlikely HR challenges. Simon Lupini, company manager, reveals all to HRM By Paul Howell


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leaders talk hr


elebrating just its second anniversary this month, the Zaia circus is only a baby compared to others in the famed Cirque du Soleil family. But as the first permanent show in the Asia region – with hundreds of Mainland China visitors heading to the Venetian Macau every night – it’s also set to experience some of the fastest growth among th e 20 Cirque du Soleil productions around the world. The Macau production is made up of 230 dedicated staff – all the “cream of talent”, according to Simon Lupini, company manager. Whether they are among the 75 on stage “artists”, the 100 theatre technicians or part of the supporting crew, or any of the dedicated support staff, he says Cirque du Soleil’s strong reputation in the arts industry allows it to employ only the best from around the world.

A unique role

Just as Cirque du Soleil is not your typical business, Lupini is not your typical CEO-type leader. His is a unique role comprising of a combination of business management and staff welfare responsibilities. That puts him at both the front of the organisation’s HR strategy and its overall business direction. “I’m responsible for the welfare of all Cirque du Soleil employees,” he tells HRM. “They are (typically) young and in a land far from home.” All three groups of staff hail from all around the world – with 22 nationalities and issue 10.8


leaders talk hr

Assess stAff engAgement eAsier thAn ever before!

all six of the planet’s populated continents represented. Typically, artists are in their 20s – although some musicians and clowns are older. “I’ve never had such diverse people to work with and for,” he says.

“All the artists are given the opportunity to spend a certain amount on further education” Simon Lupini, company manager, Cirque du Soleil

Building a team

So how do you find the very best of artistic talent from all over the world? Lupini says you’re unlikely to find job advertisements for Cirque du Soleil “jugglers” or “clowns” in newspapers or on the web. Rather, the worldwide company uses a systematic approach to finding the exact talents it is looking for, rather than trying to attract them and hope they come. “There is a whole department of talent scouts operating around the world,” he says. They monitor a wide range of sources, from other circus productions and theatres to busking and street performance competitions. “We link up with sports people quite a lot,” Lupini says – noting that gymnasts are a particularly good talent to look out for. These sporting careers can end at a particularly young age, and many are able to continue using their skills through the circus arts. “We liaise with many government sports bodies,” he says, noting that Cirque du Soleil is careful to only offer positions once the prospect’s competitive career has ended.

… and building teamwork

Check our website for a sPeCiAL offer:

Most artists come to Zaia on a one-year contract. Renewals are certainly encouraged and discussed at the ninemonth mark. But while most staff look to stay on in the Cirque du Soleil company, they also appreciate the chance to move to different productions around the world. This is a rare possibility in an industry populated by many small theatre companies and troupes.


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leaders talk hr

“Some of them are conscious about not but as Lupini says, that is not necessarily by staying on a show for too long but the vast choice. “Macau is an interesting territory,” he majority still want to stay within Circue,” he notes. “Social life can be limited.” says. “That’s the beauty of working with a He says achieving a healthy work-life large (international) company.” balance can be difficult but most of the team Still, having a more transient workforce do work to build a social atmosphere within does mean a near-permanent focus on the group – both at work and outside. “It’s a teamwork is necessary. Fortunately, Lupini very tight-knit group – which is good and says the organisation works hard to maintain bad,” Lupini says. “They support each other teamwork, trust and friendship in its but a lot of them also don’t get away from working group. Indeed, it has to. each other. Eight times a week, the cast and crew “We all live within a square kilometer of work together to produce one of the only one another.” shows of its kind in Macau. That, Lupini says, is the pinnacle example of organisational teamwork. “They have to Simon Lupini has lived and breathed the theatre and stage work out how to entertainment worlds all his life. He studied technical theatre at work as a team,” he university in London before going into stage management for a says – something that variety of venues and productions. develops through This included 10 years of rising through the ranks of the Royal both official on-stage Albert Hall Show Department. His roles there led to a general rehearsals and management position, overseeing and facilitating the different shows that played its famous stage. training sessions. He joined Cirque du Soleil in 2005, firstly working on one of a They also work to group of long-running Las Vegas shows. A few years later, he was build camaraderie part of the founding team that launched the company’s Zaia between both the production in Macau. on-stage and backstage talent. That can be particularly important given the nature of some stunts He says the small number of Cirque du and performances in the show. Soleil staff who have relocated to Macau “People literally rely on each other for with families seem to integrate more easily; their lives,” Lupini says, citing an acrobat as they also become part of the international and the rigger belaying him as an example. school community in the territory. “That’s the ultimate in teamwork.”

Bio Brief

Together in a foreign land

The Cirque du Soleil team also does plenty of bonding outside of rostered work hours,

Managing short careers

Lupini says his artists have career paths similar to those of sports stars. They come into their prime in their 20s, but only have a issue 10.8


leaders talk hr

me-myself-i » My hero: Anyone who believes passionately in a cause, while putting others ahead of themselves. Nelson Mandela is a prime example » My inspiration: Is the product we offer; on stage every night » I love: That I’ve turned a childhood passion into a successful career » I hate: People who complain for no reason; unjustified negativity » My strengths: Multi-tasking and multi-thinking; big picture strategy » My weakness: Caring too much on some issues » In five years time I will be: Definitely in the entertainment industry; hopefully still with Cirque du Soleil – but I have no idea where in the world that will be. That’s the fun part!

short period there before it’s time for a change. “Most are thinking about different careers by their 30s,” he says. “Injuries do happen and the older you get; the slower your body takes to recover.” This typical trajectory is at the forefront of his mind when Lupini talks about talent development and career management within Cirque du Soleil. It’s not just about building star performers and backup crew, but also about managing their exit from the organisation for the benefit of both parties. “We’re aware that artists here have a short career span,” he notes. “We want to support them in their future.” For this reason, the company offers all staff access to a career development adviser and education funding. “All the artists are given the opportunity to spend a certain amount on further education.” In Macau, that’s typically through online studies – with marketing and sales among the most popular post-artist careers. Many also go into theatre management, Lupini says.










issue 10.8

HR in Asia: Dave



n this celebration of the 100th issue of HRM, let me congratulate the publishing staff, editors, authors, and readers. HR is increasingly a major part of business success. HR practices around talent, performance, communication, and organisational design turn business aspirations into realities. Likewise, HR departments have become an important setting to turn knowledge into productivity. HR professionals who shape strategic thinking, organisation capabilities, and employee engagement become valued partners in their businesses. HRM has played a significant role in providing timely and insightful articles that guide the HR work in Singapore. Singapore is quickly becoming a center of HR expertise, not only for Asia, but the world. As Asia becomes the gateway to the next generation of global opportunity, HR professionals will be able to model what has to happen for future business success. In that context, I often get asked “what’s next” in HR? I am torn how to respond. While people want some innovative, new, and fancy insight, some things are the same: » HR must deliver value and be measured by outcomes more than activities » HR improves individual abilities (talent) » HR develops stronger organisation capabilities (culture)


issue 10.8

100th issue Special

what’s next? HR has changed a lot in recent years – and plenty more is set to change in the years ahead. But in this 100th issue HRM exclusive, guest contributor Dave Ulrich says many things will also stay the same » HR increases the quality of leadership These four principles are not necessarily new, but there are new insights associated with each one.

HR must deliver value

Recently people have advocated for “HR analytics”, which is a great move. But, the real question about HR analytics is not how to measure, but what to measure. It is easy and has been popular to measure HR activities (for example, the number of days of training, or the percentage of employees with flexible benefits). But it is increasingly important to measure the outcomes of those activities by the value both inside the company (employee productivity and ability of company to deliver strategy) and outside (customer share, investor confidence, and community reputation). When HR analytics focus on the results both inside and outside the company, HR invests in the right activities.

HR improves individual abilities Talent is another “hot” topic. We have simplified the myriad of talent ideas into a three step formula: competence, commitment and contribution. HR should ensure competence, which is the right person in the right job at the right time with the right skills. Increasingly competence models are initiated with customer expectations and match people and positions. Commitment means that employees are willing to give their discretionary energy through the employee value proposition. What we see as an emerging and critical next step in talent is contribution. This focuses on meaning and purpose. Employees who find meaning in their work (what is sometimes termed “emotional commitment”) will be more productive. In The Why of Work (published by McGraw Hill), Wendy Ulrich and I laid out seven questions leaders can address to build abundant organisations where employees translate meaning into customer value. Meaning-making makes sense (and cents) and is a critical responsibility and opportunity for issue 10.8


100th issue Special

leaders and HR professionals. Asian leaders we have talked with quickly relate to their role as meaning-makers since Asian business is often built on relationships and connections.

HR departments are turning knowledge into

organisation by its capabilities (what it is known for and good at doing) more than its structure. Organisation capabilities become the outcomes of HR, the expectations of customers, intangibles for investors, and the reputation for the community. In today’s business world, we see emerging capabilities of innovation (the ability to do something new and different), service (the ability to identify and meet customer needs), risk


HR develops stronger organisational capabilities Individual talent is not enough. High-performing teams generally outperform individual talent. We have written extensively about how to define an

Success factors for leaders in Asia Question

Action domains

Skills A leader must have competence in…

Unique Asian context Asian leaders need to manage tensions in each area…

Where are we going?

Creating customercentered actions

Anticipating, responding to, ignoring (at times), and shaping customer behaviors and needs and turning those external needs into internal employee actions

Serving traditional Asian customers while adapting services to new global customers

Implementing strategy

How do we Getting past the past get there?

What is work like when we get there?

Who stays and who goes?

issue 10.8

Folding the future into the present, turning aspirations Having a disciplines (rules driven) strategy process while encouraging into actions (knowing doing), moving from big ideas innovation to daily routines Having grand aspirations for the future coupled with daily actions for today Adapting, learning from, and improving on the past; Respecting Asian cultural norms while competing in a global market. creating new patterns (not events) of how work is done Being able to respect the past while not being bound by it

Governing through decision making

Decision making, assigning accountabilities, Holding people accountable while working in an Asian nonleveraging size and scale while maintaining personal confrontational cultural context connection, creating infrastructure to sustain change Gaining the efficiencies of scale and size while maintaining intimacy and customization of small

Inspiring collective meaning making

Evoking passion at work, creating purpose driven and affirming work cultures, melding personal and organisational identity

Creating a sense of meaning at work while making money. Connecting an organisation’s purpose with an individual’s personal meaning

Capitalizing on capability Building a culture that combines individual abilities into collective capabilities; accepting diversity and differences while maintaining unity of purpose; having exceptional people who work well as teams

Being individually proficient while working well in teams

Developing careers

Helping people set individual and organisation expectations about both specialist and generalist careers; having “T” shaped individuals and careers

Working as a technical expert (specialist) while being able to work across boundaries (generalist)

Generating leaders

Identifying and investing in next generation leaders;

Maintaining a leadership style of humility while being directive and getting things done

Source: RBL Group


Turning external customer demands into internal employee actions

Maintaining an Asian identity while adapting to diversity of other cultures

100th issue Special

management (the ability to renew and mitigate risky choices), agility (the ability to adapt and change quickly), and having a global mindset (the ability to adapt to global conditions). HR professionals who track and measure these capabilities will build a sustainable culture. As Asian organisations grow from small and medium sized enterprises into global ventures, these capabilities become increasingly critical. Large state-owned enterprises need to become more customer-centric and agile. Privately-held organisations need to develop managerial discipline for the next generation. Multinational corporations from Asia need to operate on global standards and those doing business in Asia need to adapt to local conditions.

HR increases the quality of leadership

No one doubts that leadership matters. Today, leadership requires the right motions and actions. We have documented the leadership code, or basic requirements of all leaders (setting strategy, executing for results, managing talent, developing talent, and having personal proficiency) and we have shown that leadership brand moves leaders to align their actions to customer expectations. But, in recent months, we have seen that leaders need to go from motion to emotion, from action to meaning. The economic recession has created an emotional recession. As companies recover financially, they also need to recover from leadership, organisation,

and employee fatigue. Leaders who are meaning makers create energy, shape a future, and full engage employees. We have done work with the Singapore Ministry of Manpower to identity the skills and requirements for future Asian leaders as seen in the table beside. HRM will continue to address these and other issues that HR professionals deliver value. Dave Ulrich is a Professor with the Ross School of Business, and a partner with The RBL Group. For more information, see

“As companies recover financially, they also need to recover from leadership, organisation, and employee fatigue� Dave Ulrich, Partner, RBL Group

issue 10.8


hr insider

Taking the lead at

Building a talent hub in Singapore requires leadership by example. That’s why the country’s Economic Development Board takes a strong view on its own talent practices. Alvin Tan, Executive Director – HR, outlines the organisation’s goals and strategies


ince its establishment in 1961, Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB) has helped to shape the economic landscape on the island. It has been at the forefront of plans to make Singapore a home for business, innovation and talent. These are ambitious goals, Alvin Tan, executive director of HR, admits. They require a deep talent pool to dream, design and deliver both strategies and solutions: skilled HR talent creating real opportunities for talent of all kinds throughout the economy. The work typically involves working closely with C-suite executives of global companies. “Our officers need to be able to gain credibility from the top business leaders who are usually 20 to 30 years older than them,” he says. “With this context in mind, one can appreciate the talent management practices that need to be in place to equip our officers for these demanding roles.”

Managing talent

EDB has a “lead by example” approach to talent management, the statutory agency hoping its practices will also rub off on other employers. Recruitment, Tan says as an example, is concerned with building an effective talent pipeline as much as it is about filling any particular vacant position. EDB also invests in new ways to connect with potential employees. For example, it uses personalised videos in its careers webpage to profile some of the roles its staff can take on, and the impact that they make in the organisation. “You will find lots of personal stories and experiences and it really


issue 10.8


hr insider

issue 10.8



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hr insider

Who’s who in HR? gives potential employees a good sense of the type of organisation we are and the culture we have.” Having said that, Tan points out that EDB is still very selective about who it hires. The organisation invests heavily in the screening capabilities of the whole organisation. All first line managers are trained to screen candidates in an effective, consistent and calibrated manner. The interview process is also specifically designed to look out for relevant traits and competencies critical to EDB “It is certainly not easy for the candidate. But we also make it a point that the candidate finds the whole experience a positive one, regardless of whether he or she is successful or not,” Tan says. The same commitment is given to leadership development within the organisation. “We recognise that our success in the future depends on our ability to produce the leadership talent the organisation needs,” Tan says. “We have been successful so far in that more than 90% of our leaders in the corporate management team were groomed and developed from within.”

Building internal leadership

Tan says the EDB’s leadership development practices are based on three mutually reinforcing concepts: each potential leader is asked to “live”, “learn”, and then also “teach” the management strategy. The first part is an extension of typical “on-the-job” training. To help officers grow in their careers, EDB encourages staff to The Singapore Economic Development Board explore different functional areas. “It’s not » Total number of employees: 500+ uncommon for officers to take on different » HR team: 22 people jobs in different parts of the organisation in » Key focus areas: their careers at EDB,” Tan says. • Talent development He cites himself as an example. Tan • Leadership development was previously Head of the Electronics • Talent attraction – including scholarships, cluster, which focused on developing the recruitment and internships electronics industry in Singapore. “I • Performance management needed to understand how the industry • Rewards – including compensation, was evolving, how the companies were benefits, and recognition positioning themselves for the future, and • Organisational development what Singapore could offer to entice these companies to invest and grow their presence here.” After that, he was based in Chicago as Regional Director for the Central US region. “I was flying all over to meet business leaders (and) share what Singapore offers.” He says learning first-hand what business leaders were thinking about was a powerful addition to his personal skills set, and is proving particularly useful in his current role.

At a glance

Alvin Tan Executive Director – HR

Ng Guat Hong Director

Goh Wan Yee Head Talent Performance & Rewards

Shirley Cheong Head Talent Development

Ng Ying Yuan Head Talent Attraction; Head Organisation Development

Tan Lee Sar Deputy Director issue 10.8


hr insider

“I’ve learned how important ‘people’ decisions are and the impact they have on the team and organisation” Alvin Tan, Executive Director – HR, EDB

He has led HR since 2008, but still the learning doesn’t stop. “I’ve learned how important ‘people’ decisions are and the impact they have on the team and organisation,” Tan says. In addition to its on-the-job development, EDB offers a full suite of development programmes pegged at various levels. A first-line manager (unit head), for example, will learn specifically about how best to develop and nurture the staff that report to them. Each new Head also has a mentor to provide guidance and support upon taking on these new responsibilities. Lower down the organisational chart, every new officer joining EDB takes part in its induction programme to better understand the organisation and the work it does. New officers are also put through foundational soft skills training, such as presentation and business etiquette. All the development programmes are customised to EDB’s needs. “We invest substantially in these such that they can support the growth and development of our officers as they progress in their careers with us,” Tan says. Up until 2007, Alvin Tan, now executive director – HR, Singapore The third pillar of EDB’s leadership development strategy is Economic Development Board, didn’t have any formal experience in the expectations that leaders then pass that learning on to HR. Getting up to speed quickly was a big personal challenge, he says. younger or more junior colleagues. Tan says this is particularly “I was blessed (with) a strong team of people who were patient crucial in the organisation’s induction programmes. “My with me and gave me lots of advice,” he says. “It also helped that colleagues will share their personal stories, to put what they leaders in EDB take talent matters seriously.” have learned at EDB into context for the officers,” he says. Tan also spoke with many HR practitioners from other There are also platforms for leaders to facilitate the discussion organisations to learn how and why they did certain things. At the end of case studies on topics such as leadership or business strategy.

Learning fast

of the day, he says the broad ideas aren’t too different, but the challenge is to be able to implement them well within the context and culture of the organisation. “To do this well, the HR team not only needs to be professional and be subject-matter experts in HR, they also need to have a deep understanding of our business and how we work.”


issue 10.8

Not there yet

Tan rates EDB’s HR infrastructure between seven and eight out of 10, indicating an above average organisation but accepting there is still some room for improvement. “This organisation is about talent, as it is our main asset,” he says. “EDB has been a front-runner in its practices and policies. We believe that we need to keep pushing the boundaries to make EDB an exceptional organisation.”

sleepless nights? As the Singapore market continues to strengthen and organisations again aim for solid growth, is staff productivity, motivation and retention causing you to have sleepless nights? Rest assured, you’re not alone! Randstad’s 2010 World of Work Report has revealed that “how can I ask any more of my employees?” and “how do I keep my employees happy?” are just two of the 10 burning questions keeping business leaders awake at night. To help you get a good night’s sleep, register for your copy of the report by visiting



last line The counter-offer is back in a big way but there’s little agreement about how and when to make one. HRM asks where employers should draw this last line of retention defence


cene One: A tax expert with an accounting firm accepted a top corporate position at a local manufacturer that paid $10,000 more than he had then been earning. But the in-demand talent changed his mind after his firm’s senior partner made him a counter offer. The HR team dangled a

plethora of carrots, including the promise of a partnership in the near future. Three months later, after the tax season ended, the accountant was fired. Scene Two: The HR director of a multinational organisation is burning midnight oil as one of his top performers has been head-hunted by a competitor.

After a close one-on-one talk, he realised that the new position offered only a meagre raise in terms of compensation but promised the star performer more flexibility, empowerment and work-life balance. He quickly made a counter offer. With a little tweak in the compensation and benefits package, issue 10.8



modified HR practices, and clarity in communication, he agreed to match the competitor’s promises. Six months later, when the company went through an economic downswing, the talent stayed on. Ask any HR professional and you’ll hear dozens of anecdotes involving counteroffers for those set to leave an organisation. Needless to say, there are two sides to every coin. Whilst the strategy may have worked for several organisations, many others have suffered as well. Interestingly, the inconsistency in the

What to offer? Four out of five counter offers include a base salary increase. Here’s what other perks are being offered to keep staff on side

Counter offers used to retain employees Increased base salary


Change of role/department




Training & development


Increased bouns


More benefits e.g. additional hoiliday, study leave


Other 6% 0%





Source: The Hudson Report, Singapore - Q2 2010 Note: Figures do not add up 100% as respondents could select more than one option.


issue 10.8






global economy seems to have trigged another bout of attrition challenges. Hence, employers who are operating with reduced workforce may still find it easier to sweeten the pot and retain their in-house talents, rather than look for replacements.

Fire, or rehire?

Reduced employee engagement levels are a key factor behind the increased attrition facing employers in Asia. Of those organisations on the recruitment trail, many are taking advantage of this factor, observes Mike Game, CEO Asia, Hudson. But engaged or not, employers won’t be letting their best staff go without a fight. 61% of employers in Singapore say they are open to making counter offers to certain staff if and when they find greener pastures elsewhere. According to the Hudson Report - Second Quarter 2010, the most hiring is taking place in the Healthcare and Life Sciences sector. But at 77% of employers, that’s also where the highest proportion of respondents is willing to make counter offers to dissuade talent from resigning. But the drift is just as apparent in other industries. Linnet Foo, HR director in Asia for international technology provider, Giesecke & Devrient, says highly trained and competent staff are still few and far between. “When such an individual has an offer outside, the employer will certainly counter offer,” she observes. For her part, counter offers are typically reserved for “contributors”, rather than just any senior staff member. A typical response will range from a 20% to 25% increase in compensation, but she emphasises that these offers are only based on performance standards and track record for the employee. The organisation needs to be able to weed out


The Empire strikes back


An executive from Singapore-based food and beverage manufacturer Food Empire tendered his resignation last September. The employer was quick to turn the problem around, offering a range of incentives – including an extra $1000 per month - to keep the worker on. Florence Ker, senior HR manager, Food Empire, says the employee was quick to accept, benefiting both parties. “It is rational to keep the range at 10% to 15% to keep the staff member,” she says. “An additional 10% is better than (trying) to reinvent the wheel and train another new Florence Ker, Food Empire hire.” But is there a risk staff will “make up” other job offers to see if they can get a salary increment? Ker says “yes”, but notes there are ways HR can protect itself. “We always ask for the offer letter from the prospective employer,” Ker tells HRM. Counter offers work both ways for the employer and the employee, however, it is not the dollar and cents that will keep the employee over the long term. “Job satisfaction and environment are key factors of retention,” Ker says.

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Case study

those threatening to leave in order to force a pay rise. “Some employees may try their luck through this avenue,” she says. For these, organisations may be better off calling the apparent bluff.

Bait or bet

Those staff worthy of a counter offer typically cover three groups: the high potentials, high performers – particularly those in sales or business development roles, and irreplaceable specialists. Game says the value of the offer should be dependent on the individual, the organisations and the circumstances of the competing employment opportunity. “Some companies have very strict approval protocols and limitations on counter-offers, whereas many companies will assess situations on (individual) merit,” he says.

ONE COMPANY ONE COMMITMENT Tel: 6398 8588 issue 10.8



Be on guard While HR professionals in Asia appear keen to make counter offers, experts warn not to rush in too quickly. Consider these points: » When your employee accepts a counter offer, it could indicate that they can be “bought”. This can instigate or encourage a long term bidding war with rival employers » It also shows the employee was actively in the job market in the first place. Chances are they will look again for better opportunities » Four out of five US employees who accepted a counter offer left the organisation within 12 months, according to the US-based National Business Employment Weekly

Either way, HR should act as the “conscience” of the organisation, cautioning against counter-offering. Game notes that the potential for these short-term transactions to flow on to other areas of the organisation can sometimes cause more harm than good. phone: 02 8288 8000


issue 10.8

One way to keep the conscious clear is to make counter offers around non-financial factors. Location changes, new roles or additional development opportunities may help sway a talent that’s looking to leave. A spokesman for Procter & Gamble Singapore says that is his company’s standard approach. If such incentives are not enough, perhaps it’s best to let the employee slip away. Of course, these sorts of offers are best made before the talent has the chance to contemplate a switch. By the time an employee comes asking for more money, it’s often too late to really make an impact with anything but cold, hard cash.

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Thrive in Dr Stephen



f there’s one thing that’s certain in business, it’s uncertainty. Most organisations can get predictable results in an environment that is predictable. But, there are great organisations that consistently perform with excellence, even in the most unpredictable times, which we are now experiencing. These organisations not only survive the tough times, but they thrive and set themselves ahead of their competitors. In my book, Predictable Results in Unpredictable Times, co-authored with FranklinCovey CEO, Bob Whitman, we have identified four hazards that raise trouble within organisations in unpredictable times. These include: » Failure to execute: An organisation defines its strategy but can it execute? And will it execute? Some people may understand the strategy and they are producing. Some aren’t and probably never will. Then there’s the great middle population – how much more could they contribute if they only knew how? » Crisis of trust: Levels of trust are at an all-time low. Securities markets plunge due to a huge crisis of confidence. Too many people see betrayal and are skeptical. As a result, everyone slows down, and everything slows down.


issue 10.8

100th issue Special

uncertainty The recession may have ended but there is still a great amount of uncertainty in the business world. In this 100th issue HRM exclusive, Dr Stephen Covey says the best organisations are those that can not just survive, but thrive, during such times

» Loss of focus: Many organisations are 17,000 work units in 1100 organisations, to see working with fewer resources – less what works and what doesn’t in organisations in employees and less money – which creates both the public and private sectors. The data confusion. People try to do two or three jobs collected provided the research for Predictable at once; work hours increase. A person doing Results in Unpredictable Times. So what insights two jobs has half the focus of a person doing did we gain? What are the factors that truly create one job, and half the likelihood of doing a winning company? How can you get predictable either job well. results, even in unpredictable times? » Pervasive fear: Economic recession causes Here are the four key principles we found: psychological recession. People fear losing » Execute Priorities with Excellence: Winning jobs, savings, even their companies have “simple homes. And it costs the goals”. They review these Great organisations company; just when you goals often, set clear targets, need people to focus and and they have strong followengage, they lose focus through, including clear perform with excellence, even in the and disengage. measures and tracking of most unpredictable times These conditions exist in results. All team members varying degrees depending know the goals and their on a region’s economy and roles in reaching them. They market conditions. However, as you look at these are also held accountable for getting the hazards you will find that they are foundationally results. common to most organisations. Certainly, great » Move with the Speed of Trust: Low trust organisations are aware of these hazards and they slows work down and raises costs. That’s why work in a way that minimises or eliminates them the economy, your clients and your cash flow – that’s what makes them winning companies. slow down in times of turmoil. When trust FranklinCovey has studied, to date, team levels rise, however, everything speeds up and disciplines of more than 300,000 people in costs go down. Winning companies are


issue 10.8


100th issue Special

“While no leader can be in control of market conditions, they can rely on these changeless principles” Dr Stephen R Covey

capable of quick action; they are able to keep up with rapid changes in their marketplace or in the economic environment. And they act in ways that build trust, which speeds things up. » Achieve More with Less: Everyone is trying to do more with less, but the real question is, “More of what?” The winning companies focus on what their customers want and on creating value around that. They are not just cutting back, they are simplifying, reducing complexities that customers don’t value. » Transform Fear into Engagement: When times are bad a psychological recession sets in. Staff become fearful, or feel hopeless, because they feel they have no control over what happens to them. Winning organisations help

Everyone loves being recognised for the good work they do. As a company that values its employees, you’ll be pleased to hear how Bonvo can enhance your HR incentive and retention strategy through our Lifestyle & Rewards programme. Experiential rewards leave a more lasting impression than cash or tangible incentives, which is why Bonvo continually puts together exciting and unusual experiences for employee rewards. We have a wide selection of resort and holiday packages with various activities for your employees and their families, and can help you customise your rewards, benefits, and long service awards programmes.

people break through that hopelessness and focus on what they can do. Much of the fear is caused by unclear direction, by lack of meaningful purpose. But when people have a clear, compelling mission they can believe in, they can break away from the fear and transform their anxieties into energy that produces results. While no leader can predict what will come next or be in control of market conditions, they can rely on these changeless principles. There is a proven process for executing and getting results, in good times and bad. You can even thrive in unpredictable times –that’s where winning companies and organisations differentiate themselves.

Dr Stephen R Covey is the founder and vice-chair of FranklinCovey, and author of international bestselling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

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issue 10.8

14/07/2010 3:27 PM

corporate learning

corporate learning

soft focus Technical expertise is certainly necessary in most job functions – but a business can no longer run on this sort of talent alone. More and more, employers are seeing the value of “soft” skills such as relationship building and negotiation. Fortunately, there are plenty of training opportunities available


echnical ability is great. But these “hard” skills can look sadly one-dimensional when they are not complimented by the “soft” abilities that modern businesses require. Teamwork, decision-making and communication skills are now essential at almost every level of an organisation, and in almost every function.

Fortunately, these skills can be taught – but not by your typical textbook and blackboard approach. While subjects like financial management, marketing or even HR to a certain extent may be taught in the classroom or through e-learning, soft skills need to be acquired and experienced on the spot. HR experts

agree that they require a continuous learning process that allows staff to excel in both their professional and their personal lives.

Soft skills, hard facts

Pauline Chua, HR director, Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), says soft skills are required in all manner of issue 10.8


corporate learning

institutions – but play a particularly important role in the hospitality and service fields. “We are in the people business where Pauline Chua, HR Director, service plays an Wildlife Reserves Singapore important role in enhancing the guests’ experiences,” she tells HRM. “It is crucial for our employees to respond to any situation.” For this, WRS staff are taught a standard response to unexpected events. “They are able to quickly analyse the situation, think on their feet, identify the problem and respond swiftly to it while giving a listening ear to the guest and empathising with them.” WRS has developed a series of training “roadmaps” for its different functional areas, with both technical and soft skill areas systematically addressed. Even specialist staff – those with qualifications in animal husbandry or horticulture for example – are provided with soft skills training as a

Help available A wide range of training providers offer specific soft skills training for organisations, including NTUC LearningHub, Kaplan, the British Council and the Singapore Quality Centre. » Courses cover subjects such as Personal Effectiveness, Initiative and Enterprise, Problem Solving and Decision Making, Communication and Relationship Management, and Learning and Personal Development. Vendors say each programme can be adopted for indvidual needs or at operations, supervisory and managerial levels. » These courses are available at Operations, Supervisory & Managerial levels (except Learning & Personal Development with only Operations and Supervisory level). » Most are eligible for up to 90% funding under the Skills Programme for Upgrading and Resilience (where the trainee is Singaporean or permanent resident), making the upfront cost for employers as low as S$20 (plus GST) per employee trained.


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matter of course. Specifically, the organisation trains staff in guest interaction, early childhood issues (a nod to one of WRS’ key target demographics), problem solving, and managing cultural differences. Managers and supervisors also take part in a performance management workshop to ensure effective appraisals and feedback across all levels of the organisation.

Understanding the need

Chua says all training needs to be in line with the organisation’s own ideals, even when that training is coming from outside sources. “It is important that the trainers understand our organisational culture and service mindset,” she says. “They need to make the connection with our core values and level of service experience that we want to cultivate in our employees.” Rexanna Kok, executive director of Kaplan, which offers a range soft skills training programmes, says that is the first question her team asks potential clients. “When organisations can identify the reasons and see that the value of the learning programme is directly linked to helping an organisation achieve their goals, the performance management systems and learning and development plans can be easily built to ensure we change behaviour and build the essential soft-skills needed,” she says.

Training senior management

Developing soft skills takes time, something that can be a precious commodity in an organisation. That’s particularly true among the senior leaders and those with management responsibilities. Kok says this common situation has led Kaplan to offer

corporate learning

corporate learning

Case study

Honeywell’s soft skills strategy Diversified manufacturer Honeywell has long had soft skills close to the Debashish Chatterjee, top of its organisation-wide training agenda. Debashish Chatterjee, HR HR director, Honeywell Singapore director, Honeywell Singapore, says that is because the organisation demands a great deal of interaction between its departments and its international offices. “Most of our staff here (in the Asia Pacific region) are either in the Integrated Supply Chain domain or in Sales, Marketing or Services and Operations,” she says – noting that all of these areas are essentially communication-based. “The challenges are around inter-country interactions, understanding, and (building) matrix organisations.” To smooth these paths, Honeywell provides training in a number of key soft skill areas. These include: » Communication and relationship management – emphasising on how to influence and persuade others, and building better work relationships » Problem solving and decision making – emphasising on creative thinking tools and out-ofthe-box thinking » Personal effectiveness – emphasises on the development of life skills including goal setting and time management Chatterjee says Honeywell hires principally for relevant experience and technical skills, making the soft skills development a vital ongoing task for its training teams. “The areas where we intend to invest further are in (building) an aligned workforce and a ‘One Honeywell’ approach.”


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“blended” learning solutions to some of its clients. These give senior managers the flexibility to conduct their learning anytime and anywhere, without the need for others in the group to be ready at the same time. Chua says WRS works hard to ensure its development programmes for senior managers are targeted to the individual. “We have to ensure that each training is customised and relevant to achieve the desired training outcomes,” she says. The programmes can include executive training opportunities, specific projects, study trips, to mentoring and one-on-one coaching.

Getting a good return

So how can you determine the value of these “soft” skill investments? David Burroughs, Managing Director, CommuniCorp Group, says the returns need to be measured in employee attitudes, rather than specific technical competencies. “Soft Skills are the critical capabilities that enable people to perform at the highest level,” he says. Kok considers the “happiness” index within a team. “If a leader is successful, his or her team will be exuding happiness and positivity,” she says. “This means there will be better staff retention within the team.” Chua tracks a number of metrics to consider this “happiness” level, all of which offer an insight into training effectiveness. These include guest satisfaction surveys (conducted every six months); pre and post-course reviews by staff involved; and the annual employee engagement survey.

corporate learning

corporate learning case study

Agile training It considers itself the world’s premier “measurement” company, covering everything from chemical analysis to electronic testing of new products and services. Agilent Technology’s staff therefore need to be at the top of their game in a wide variety of fields. The group’s Malaysia operations rely heavily on training and development programmes to make that happen


gilent Technologies Malaysia operates a large site on Penang Island, employing some 3000 staff. It is the largest integrated campus in the worldwide group, encompassing a wide range of “high-value” operations including business management, sales, marketing, and research. The site is also responsible for the worldwide manufacturing and supply chain activities of the Agilent Group. Led by local leaders, the team is responsible for defining and then developing products and markets for several Agilent businesses. The Malaysia HR team is certainly proud of its work – with several


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corporate learning case study

Building Leaders Agilent’s leadership development programme is a key focus of its internal HR team. Designed to help leaders at important transition points in their careers, it includes the following self-designed courses: »» Employee Essentials: As part of each new employee’s orientation, Agilent provides an introduction to the company’s culture, values and management practices. This includes a strong focus on personal accountability and self development.

international awards to its credit. Jenny Ooi, HR director, Agilent Technologies, Malaysia and Thailand, says none of these would have been possible without the company’s firm commitment to consistent learning and development.

Reality check Agilent staff pull together through a rigorous training regime

»» Management Essentials: New managers learn what is expected of them in a supervisory role and further develop their leadership skills. Participants learn tools and approaches for coaching, team performance, talent management and effective leadership in any business situation »» Leadership Essentials: Promoted middle managers develop skills in executing strategy and building organisational capability »» Senior Leadership Development: This expands on the fundamentals of leadership and business skills needed to engage a team and execute objectives. Both new and experienced Senior Managers in a business or corporate function participate

Ooi says development is necessarily »» Executive Development: Builds superior leadership and business skills that help Agilent executives address real business challenges, a collaborative process – with each develop strategy, solve their customers’ problems and create individual employee working shareholder value closely with their manager or »» Next Generation Leadership: Participants further expand their supervisor to come up with the best leadership competencies through integrated developmental work training strategy. The company experience, performance-based feedback, peer networking, allows for a range of learning styles mentoring, and periodic learning events to be accommodated – but a combination is highly encouraged. “Effective development is a Leadership development needs to stay relevant combination of developmental work experiences, performance-based feedback and and sustain its value-add for learners, she says. coaching and formal learning that can occur in That’s independent of whether they are the new the classroom or via e-learning.” generation of employees entering the workforce, or the current workforce. As time continues to be One of the most important areas of its training strategies revolves around leadership a precious commodity, training needs to be development. In particular, Agilent looks to bite-sized, but potent, for everyone concerned. develop three main competencies in its leaders and high potential staff: the ability to set and align Return on Investment strategy, skills in building organisational With a training budget worth some US$500,000 a capability, and the tools to “deliver” results. year, how well can a company like Agilent measure

In brief »» Organisation name: Agilent Technologies Malaysia and Thailand »» Employees: 3000 full-time »» Current training priorities: Leadership development and informal learning through coaching and mentoring »» Training budget: US$500,000 annually

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corporate learning case study

“We are moving to a self-pace model where we groom more content experts to form a knowledge base” Jenny Ooi, HR director, Agilent Technologies, Malaysia and Thailand

and track the returns on these programmes? Ooi says each training intervention is tracked and aligned against the company’s “Measures of Success” – which include metrics such customer satisfaction surveys, leadership audit scores, operating profit, and revenue growth. In Malaysia, Agilent’s half yearly leadership audit scores are consistently in the top 25% of the wider industry, she says. At the same time, the company’s attrition rates for these sorts of roles is well below (less than half) the industry average.

Still more to be done

Despite the awards, Ooi says there is still more to be done when it comes to Agilent’s corporate learning strategies. One area in need of improvement is its informal teaching procedures, she volunteers. This is all of the coaching, mentoring and self-paced learning programmes that extend beyond traditional classroom training. “We are moving more of our training to a self-pace model where we groom more

content experts to form a knowledge base that employees can tap on as a community.” Ooi says these need to be tailored to the individual learner as much as possible. “In addition, we can also further enhance posttraining interaction and (develop) an even more robust feedback loop to ensure training efficiency,” she says. Further, Agilent subscribes to a “training-bydesign” view, rather than a focus on passing trends in the corporate learning world. “We focus on the fundamental process of understanding the organisation’s and learners’ needs and making sure that our training is addressing these,” she says.

University days

Agilent also keeps close ties with local and international universities. It provides scholarships to employees who wish to upskill and pursue academic qualifications. In partnership with local universities, these accredited degrees are customised to the needs of the industry. Agilent also opens its doors to university lecturers, with many choosing the company for short-term “sabbatical” assignments. This promotes a healthy exchange of technology and development ideas within the company, Ooi says.

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or the past decade we have been studying employee engagement. We wanted to know why some people work so hard and smart and others … well, don’t. We’ve surveyed more than half a million employees, and in late 2008 conducted a study of Singapore working adults. And after all this research? What we have found about motivation, effective management, and the role of the “carrot” is actually quite remarkable. What is a Carrot? In short, it is employee recognition – appreciating the great work of your team members. And for a successful leader, it’s an acceleration tool. Our Oxford English Dictionary calls a carrot: “something enticing offered as a means of persuasion.” In business, a carrot is something used to inspire and motivate an employee. It’s something to be desired. In fact, it tops the list of things employees say they want most from their employers. Simply put, when employees know that their strengths and potential will be praised and recognised, they are significantly more apt to produce value. Yet some will ask, “Isn’t money the most effective carrot? Aren’t the allure of bonuses and increases in salary what really motivate our employees?”


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100th issue Special

orange What really gets employees out of bed in the morning? In this 100th issue HRM exclusive, recognition experts Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton say many Singaporean HR professionals might be surprised that it’s not cash. Instead, they say employers should “think orange”

Cash is no king To begin with, the fact is that money is not as powerful a reward as many people think. While pay and bonuses must be competitive to attract and retain talented employees, smaller amounts of cash – anything short of US$1000 – will never make the best rewards because they are so easily forgotten. In fact, one third of the people you give a cash award to will use that money to pay bills. Another one in five won’t have any clue in a few months where they spent the money or even how much they received. Just ask yourself, did you save the bank deposit slip from the last time someone gave you a $100 cash bonus? Is it tucked away in a scrapbook of memories? Of course not! But what about something useful and tangible that was given to you as a reward? Not a t-shirt, sleeve of golf balls, or canvas tote bag – but something useable and valuable. Chances are, even years later, you still own it and can picture the award in your mind. However, the more prevalent problem with cash is that the supply is limited and strictly controlled, and your people know it. Now, for many of the managers reading this book that

might not be the case. Many of you in middle and senior leadership roles are indeed motivated by the allure of a large bonus or increase in salary. Hefty sums of cash may in fact be motivating to you. But realise that for the majority of the people in your charge, that’s just not a possibility. And here’s why: No matter what they do, your employees know you only have so much cash to share with them. Pay, for example, is determined by the employee’s experience, job type, higher corporate policy, location, and other external factors outside your and your employees’ control. If an employee is doing a fantastic job, you might be able to get them a 5% raise at the end of the year. Not much motivation there. As for large bonuses tied to personal performance, they are typically reserved for mid- to upper-level leaders. Lower-level employees and professional staff typically receive a standard bonus amount, with very little variation from person to person. Not a lot of motivation to excel there either. Benefits, too, are locked in. As a manager, you can hardly offer an excellent employee a better dental plan. So it’s time to learn what you do control: The Carrot supply! issue 10.8


100th issue Special

Working carrots “When people join us, they obviously have agreed on the pay,” Elizabeth Martin-Chua, former vice president of Philips Electronics in Singapore, said. “What they are hoping for is a good environment where they can use their capabilities and talent to good advantage and then be recognised for it.” Martin-Chua’s comments are backed up by a study by HRM Singapore, which in December 2005 interviewed 3000 people. When asked, “What do you really want from your job,” employees ranked “pay” number three on the list. Number one was “Career and Learning Development Opportunities.” And number two? “Recognition”. According to HRM: “The economic success of Singapore means that employees need more than pay to be motivated.”

And that leads us to the key finding of our global studies: the central characteristic of truly effective management is a manager’s ability to recognise employees’ talents and contributions in a purposeful manner. Our study results show that when recognition is considered effective, managers have lower employee turnover, achieve enhanced business results, and are seen as stronger in other areas of leadership such as goal-setting, communication, trust and accountability. In other words, recognition accelerates a leader’s effectiveness. Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton are the authors of the global bestseller The Carrot Principle. Their new book The Orange Revolution: How One Great Team Can Transform an Entire Organization will be published by Simon & Schuster in September 2010.




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Measuring performance Singapore is pushing for substantial gains in productivity over the next ten years. Getting an accurate assessment of employees’ work is a crucial step in ensuring an organisation is on track for future success By Sumathi V Selvaretnam


oth Peter and David come in to work at the same time, clock in the same amount of hours and are generally competent with their assigned tasks. On the surface, both sound equally talented but as a manager, how do you gauge who is more productive and therefore possibly next-in-line for a promotion? It’s in situations like this that a comprehensive and well-oiled performance management system comes into play. Measuring performance should be a critical part of the long-term strategic plans of any organisation. It forms the basis of the employee appraisal process and helps identify, develop and monitor talents. And the more detailed and accurate the measurement, the better and more strategic are the decisions that can be based on that information.

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Finding the right metrics There are many ways to measure performance at the workplace and organisations need to find metrics that are the most meaningful to them. Measuring labour productivity is probably the easiest and most common method of assessing the effectiveness of work. Typically, it is the ratio of output to the input of labour, and is often measured by the amount of hours worked. Organisations can study the trends and establish highlevels of productivity versus low-levels of productivity. They can then analyse what was happening during each of those peaks and troughs and make strategic decisions accordingly. Of course, some industries demand a much broader definition of productivity. Ang Chong Lye, CEO, Singapore General Hospital (SGH) says it is harder to pin down the exact productivity levels in his organisation, as no two patients are the same. In the past, financial performance was used as a crude measure of how well the hospital performed, Ang said. “However, that was not ideal as hospitals that do badly in terms of their financials may be Failing to address and rectify issues as they arise providing very good care for patients.” Reserving feedback until the annual review SGH, which clinched the title for Best Giving employees a higher rating simply to avoid negativity in the Performance Management at this year’s HRM workplace Awards, has therefore extended its definition of Failing to explain how individual performance can affect the performance to include non-financial indicators bottom-line including clinical quality, patient safety, waiting Not explaining the business reasons behind decisions times, research output and employee retention. Improper preparation or poor documentation Ang explains that the hospital evaluates its Not keeping a lookout for high-flyers productivity levels by comparing the increase in demand for its services and the time patients Being critical without providing constructive advice need to wait for their first appointment. Barring any change in profile or patient demographics, a slower increase in waiting time is a sign of good productivity levels. Similarly, if the cost per patient-day is stable or declining, the hospital knows it has provided more services with the same amount of input, he says. Performance management systems can also be customised to meet the needs of different groups of employees. For example, Generation Y workers might have a different attitude towards work compared to more mature workers. “What is worth noting is that while older workers may not be able to ‘output’ the same quantities as younger workers, their level of quality can be much higher,” Lynne Ng, Regional Director, Adecco Southeast Asia, says. At SGH, a diverse workforce requires that performance appraisals are customised for different job categories. “There are parts of the hospital

Recipe for a performance management disaster »» »» »» »» »» »» »» »»


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8 HR tips where output is more uniform and higher productivity is required to better serve patients’ needs,” Ang says. “On the other hand, in some parts of the hospital where the focus is on research and patient care, output is less uniform.”

Rewards and recognition

Performance management and employee recognition will often go hand-in-hand. After all, having that data at HR’s fingertips means rewards can be tailored and targeted toward specific workers and contributions. Employees who are recognised and rewarded for their good work are more likely to continue making valuable contributions in an organisation. Ng says organisations are becoming more creative in the way they reward their employees. Apart from attractive salaries and bonuses, there are other incentives that can motivate workers. These include additional vacation days, further discounts on company products and services, or supporting employees with their plans for further education. Examples of “softer” rewards include company outings, gym privileges, and earlier starts to the weekend on a Friday afternoon. Paul Sakrzewski, vice president of HR, SAP Asia Pacific, says accurate and effective performance management will enable an organisation to not just evaluate employee productivity but also the quality of their accomplishment and potential. “With the economic uncertainty present in today’s markets, it’s increasingly important to have visibility in to your workforce and a clear succession plan – ensuring your company never misses an opportunity,” he says. At SGH, bonus payouts are dependent on the fulfilment of key performance indicators as well as individual performance. Employees are also eligible

When it comes to performance measurement and management, HR needs to be on the ball from earliest possible time. HRM offers these important survival tips: » Come up with objective performance measurement metrics and ensure that employees are accountable for them. The “balanced scorecard” is a popular method – apart from financial measures, it also looks at customer perspectives, business processes as well as learning and development » Set a policy on how frequently appraisals are conducted and what procedures need to be followed when conducting an appraisal » Evaluate the performance of a new employee in the first month and then a few months after. This helps you to monitor their progress and them to understand their role better. » Implement quality control checks to assess how an employee is carrying out his duties. Those in the customer service industry can, for example, record phone conversations between employees and clients. » Get feedback from clients through comments cards and phone surveys. This creates a fuller picture on how the employee is doing » Use peer reviews to find out how your employee is viewed by colleagues. This can help identify future leaders and also weed out unproductive players » When delivering an evaluation, make sure that your employee understands what you are talking about. Offer clear and executable follow-up actions » Observe trends. If there has been a general dip in the performance of several employees, investigate further and get to the root cause

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“Hospitals that do badly in terms of their financials may (still) be providing very good care for patients” Ang Chong Lye, CEO, Singapore General Hospital


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for a variety of benefits, recognition schemes and learning and professional development opportunities. They are encouraged to pursue Masters or PhD programmes to further advance their skills. As managing a hospital is a team effort, some rewards are given to employees of all levels. For example, when the hospital successfully achieves accreditation or re-accreditation for international quality standards, employees are taken out for a meal and presented with gifts. Ang says even the most simple recognition efforts can go a long way. “Many a times, a pat on the back by the direct supervisor is the most effective recognition.” In addition to boosting performance, issuing the right rewards and recognition could also help organisations retain good talent and attract new skills. “Productive employees who are rewarded are often happier employees- and news quickly gets around by word of mouth. People want to work for companies where the workforce is happy and motivated,” Ng says.


Many choices; same challenges It doesn’t matter which countries are involved, international relocations are rarely smooth sailing. Organisations and their HR need to consider a number of challenges that can see an international hiring experience go bad, even before it begins


lobalisation and technology have certainly brought the world closer together over the last decade or so – and increased the mobility of labour both within the Asian region and beyond. It’s now relatively simple to hire your next recruit from the other side of the world, and there are plenty of organisations now doing just that. The advantages are many. Not only do international labour markets offer a wider pool of candidates and talent, they also help to internationalise even smaller businesses – giving them an important edge when it comes to selling their goods and services on the world stage. But while it’s now easy to email out a job offer to just about anywhere in the world, the actual process of relocation still holds many challenges issue 10.8



for employers and expatriates alike. Meeting expectations and ensuring foreign staff can assimilate and prosper in the new location can often come into conflict with the other all important consideration – keeping the process cost-effective.

Balancing the costs

One of the biggest problems many employers face is keeping some continuity in the salary packages of their relocating staff. Volatile exchange rates, double-tax regimes and differing costs of living can mean workers

Tough destinations According to the 2010 Global Policy and Practices Survey, by Cartus, emerging markets pose particular mobility challenges for relocating staff. More than half of its respondents identified one of the well-known BRIC group of countries as the most challenging destinations to move to.



25 25 20

Which is the most challenging destination for a relocation assignment? 16%

15 10





5 0 China


expect much higher compensation than employers have budgeted for. “One of the biggest challenges employers face is the cost of employment in terms of a more expensive expatriate compensation package versus a local compensation package,” Joanne Chua, Manager (HR division), Robert Walters, says. While these issues can be stark, they are always best dealt with early and thoroughly. “Employers can best control the initial costs of a relocation assignment through constant two-way communication with the assignee,” Chua says. She also advises HR to engage help from specialist relocation service providers. One way to keep costs down is to promote the value of “local plus” packages and permanent transfer programmes. Agnes Woo, a spokesperson for Cartus, a global relocation management service, says these options are fast-becoming popular on both sides of the relocation equation. “These assignment types are less expensive alternatives to supporting employees on traditional assignments and they (also) conform to companies’ changing mobility strategies,” she says. It’s not just assignment structures that are changing however. “Cost pressures, even prior to the recent economic downturn, have also generated less expensive and more flexibly-structured policies,” Woo notes. Ideas such as extended business travel – where international assignments are worked as part of the worker's home job – have increased in proportion to traditional long or even short term moves.

The cultural question

It’s not just about getting that high-value


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performer from one country to another. The success or failure of an international assignment is most often tied to the ability of that expatriate to assimilate and work effectively in the new location. Unfortunately, this part can often be left off the budget and planning agenda. “Many employers still fail to recognise the impact of culture on an assignment,” Andrew Soon, Regional Director, Corporate Services, Southeast Asia and India, Crown Relocations, says. That can lead to the most expensive relocation cost of all – assignment failure. “This can prove

very costly should the Employers need to assignment fail or be continue support even prematurely terminated as a result of the assignee being ineffective in a the assignment is completed different culture or a multicultural business environment.” Most experts advise employers to provide specific cultural training – either before an assignment begins or on arrival at the new location. “Investing in a one-day intercultural coaching programme at the start of the


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“Many employers still fail to recognise the impact of culture on an assignment” Andrew Soon, Regional Director, Corporate Services, Southeast Asia and India, Crown Relocations

assignment can help control other costs,” Soon says. “Business intercultural training at the destination for the local team will (also) help prevent culture conflicts.” Woo says pre-departure training should cover both language, and intercultural and business communication skills. “With this integrated approach, assignees gain confidence more quickly and, as a result, perform better,” she notes.

care of Immigration requirements and managing expectations on education and housing options are some of the best ways to visibly look after expatriate families. Chua says an early visit to the country can help to identify problem areas early. “Employers can best handle integration by encouraging employees and their families to visit the new country a couple of months before the move,” she says. “They could also speak to colleagues and friends who have been working (there) to get some first hand advice on the market, the people, the environment and the experience – stuff that you will not usually find in a country brochure or travel guide.” Importantly, support needs to be Families matter too ongoing – not just at the beginning of Some training and investment should an assignment. Woo says the mid-way also be put aside for the families of parts of a relocation are often the most relocating expatriates. Even if things neglected. “The assignee needs go perfectly during the working part, proactive an unhappy support in spouse or child continuing can still cause an Predeparture issues of major early, and potentially importance,” expensive, end to she says. the international “(These) can training helps make a smooth transition assignment. include home Soon says this and emergency is a very real leave, tenancy concern for many employers. advocacy, children’s education and “Relocating to a foreign country, changing allowances and uprooting the family and sometimes disbursements.” with a spouse who has sacrificed his or Support should ideally continue her career in the process, is often an even after the assignment has ended emotional experience and can add and the family has returned to their immense strain to the whole family,” home country. “Although technically he notes, adding that employers need to back home, the assignee will face new be seen to be taking care of these sorts challenges associated with the of issues. Actions such as taking quick transition,” Woo says.



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mice profile

Asia's Convention


It’s the heart of Asia’s “Convention City”. Suntec Singapore offers some of the best MICE facilities and services in the region 90

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mice profile


ou’d be hard pressed to find a more ideal venue than Suntec International Convention & Exhibition Centre. Centrally situated in Singapore, the island-state that’s the heart of a very vibrant Asia, it offers seamless connectivity to 5200 hotel rooms, 1000 retail outlets, 300 restaurants, six museums and a world class performing arts centre, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay. That’s all within a 15-minute walk. And with 100,000 square metres of versatile event space, you’re assured of a world class event, regardless of whether you have 10 or 20,000 guests.

A stellar record

The IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings 2006. The 2009 APEC Leaders’ Week. The FDI Annual World Dental Congress 2009. These and many other landmark events were flawlessly hosted by Suntec Singapore. In fact, since our inception in 1995, we’ve hosted more than 15,000 exceptional events of every nature and scale. Our ability to anticipate and find creative solutions to any need has not only made us the venue of choice for event organisers, but also resulted in a multitude of awards and accolades such as “Asia’s Leading Conference Centre” (World Travel Awards

2006-2009), “Best Convention & Exhibition Centre” (TTG Travel Awards 2007-2009), “Best Overseas Conference Centre, Silver Award” (Meetings & Incentive Travel Industry Awards 2008-2009) and “Best Business Venue Experience” (Singapore Experience Awards 2009).

From business suits to tracksuits

Landmark business and diplomatic meetings aside, Suntec Singapore is proud to be the Official Convention Centre Partner for the inaugural Youth Olympics Games 2010, hosting a total of six exciting ground sports. More than 100,000 athletes and participants across ten other YOG venues will also have a taste of our culinary skills, as we have been chosen as one of the official caterers for this historic event.

A hidden gem

A successful event is seldom complete without excellent food

and beverage (F&B). When it comes to playing host, Suntec Singapore offers one of the best gastronomic treasures that few venues can live up to. A little known fact is that it has the largest commercial kitchen in Singapore, with the ability to cater for up to 20,000 meals at any one time. Be in a Chef's Table for 10, a coffee tea break for 50, or a lavish gala dinner for 5000, we always aim to impress even the most discerning guests with creative menus that cater to the needs of each event and the dietary requirements of each guest. + Sales hotline: +65 6820 3883 + Email: + Website:

issue 10.8




Down under


atives might tell you there’s no such thing as Australian cuisine; that it’s all just pieces borrowed from the wide range of cultures that now call the country home. But while that may be true, the result is still something unique – as a visit to The Moomba restaurant, at the edge of Boat Quay, shows. The two-storey dining room offers a stylish but still relaxed atmosphere, with indigenous Australian artwork and a colour scheme reminiscent of the outback. And if that’s not enough to bring out your inner-“Aussie”, a quick look through the menu will certainly make you feel like Crocodile Dundee. The popular executive lunch options include such meat-eating options as Tasmanian Salmon (grilled on an eggplant caponata, with asparagus and vine-ripened tomatoes) and Kangaroo AGS FW Singapore_HRM Mag_186x119.5_eng HiRes.pdf










issue 10.8



Loin (char-grilled with an apple-soya glaze on roasted pumpkin). The Moomba grills its kangaroo meat to perfection, keeping what can sometimes be a dry meat fully tender and flavoursome. But it’s not just Australian wildlife on offer; the country’s abundant fruits, nuts and cheeses also have an impact on The Moomba’s menu. In fact, the restaurant claims 90% of its produce is imported directly For more information: from Australia. Try the The Moomba Roasted Beetroot and + Address: 52 Circular Road, Singapore 049407 Pumpkin Salad – or the + Tel: (65) 6438 0141 Crispy Pork Belly with + Email: watercress, pomelo and + Website: green mango. Whether it’s a group function, or a special reward for that individual or team that has done the organisation proud, The Moomba offers a unique – and delicious – dining experience, just a short step from the Singapore River.

05:10:39 PM


New hotspots S

ingapore’s Central Business District (CBD) is bursting at the seams with new and exciting venues for corporate events. A lot of the action is unfolding at the Marina Bay waterfront where a slew of conservation buildings are being transformed into hip food and beverage destinations. One of the most recent additions is the Fullerton Bay Hotel which offers spectacular views of the bay and the Singapore skyline. Its rooftop bar Lantern caters to corporate groups of up to 150 people. Guests can enjoy poolside cocktails inspired by the Caribbean islands and Latin America while listening to the tunes of a live Latin band. The hotel also offers three meeting rooms for more formal business events. Located right next to the Fullerton Bay Hotel is Customs House, the former home of the Singapore Customs Police. The restored building boasts a number of new restaurants to tantalise your taste buds. Check out Kinki, a Japanese restaurant with a modern twist. Featuring walls emblazoned with Japanese style graffiti art, the restaurant serves classic dishes like sashimi, sushi and customised makis. It caters to corporate events and seats 60 people comfortably. There is also enough standing room for a gathering of up to 90 guests.

Book, Music & Lyrics by Dick Lee

Or head to the hill

Ann Siang Hill is another lively area in the CBD. The newest kid on the block is The Club, a new design hotel by Harry’s Hospitality. One of the latest places to be seen is its new rooftop bar, Yin Yang. Offering both indoor and outdoor seating, the bar caters to corporate events for approximately 100 people. Guests can take their pick from an extensive list of cocktails and finger food.

Lantern The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore 80 Collyer Quay Singapore 049326 Tel: +65 6333 8388 Fax: +65 6386 8388

Kinki Restaurant + Bar 70 Collyer Quay #02-02 Customs House, Singapore 049323 Tel: +65 6533 3471 Fax: +65 6533 3473

Yin Yang The Club Hotel 28 Ann Siang Hill Singapore 069708 Tel: +65 6808 2188 Fax: +65 6808 2189

issue 10.8


SISTIC 6348 5555 Commemorating 50 years of Bringing People Together * With Mandarin Subtitles

Major Sponsor


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Embracing social media

Employee engagement

Businesses are normally based on the concept of control but the new world order demands openness. Young people today are more like to gravitate towards companies that embrace social media as a way to build initial relationships. Companies that are not present and conversational could see their future leaders slipping by. Open Leadership looks at how companies can use social media technology to be “open” while, still maintaining control. In the book, author Charlene Li explains how popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Jive can improve efficiency, communication and decision making for leaders and their organisations. She does this through step-bystep instructions as well as illustrative case studies and examples from a wide range of industries and countries. In one chapter, Li introduces readers to the idea of “crowd sourcing” and how it can be used to solve everyday problems. “Crowdsourcing” websites today create a marketplace for design, where clients can submit design requirements and designers submit their ideas. This innovative system enables the client to choose from potentially hundreds of options, but only the chosen designer gets paid. Open Leadership also offers guidelines, policies and procedures that successful companies have implemented to manage openness while ensuring that their business goals are still at the centre of it all.

Employees who find meaning in their work are more likely to be competent, committed and eager to make a contribution. This translates to a winning performance that is favorable to an organisation’s bottom line. However, employee engagement levels are currently at an all-time low in many organisations. In The Why of Work, authors Dave and Wendy Ulrich examine the factors that drive employees to do their best. They introduce the concept of an abundant organisation. In this work setting, people want to work because they find meaning from it, and customers and investors want to connect because of the quality of employees. The book takes readers through seven questions that drive abundance. In the chapter, How Do I Build a Positive Work Environment, the authors examine 10 attitudes that underlie an abundant work environment and what leaders can do to foster them. In one example, nurses who worked in a friendly environment that included safety, control, professional development, recognition and accountability were found to offer better care to patients. The Why of Work also includes targeted checklists, questionnaires, and other useful tools to help organisations turn aspirations into action.

At a Glance Open Leadership: How social technology can transform the way you lead Written by: Charlene Li Published by: Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Imprint Recommended price: $38.50

Employment Law CONGRESS



issue 10.8

Looking to hire in China? Or fire in Vietnam? Or develop skills and talent elsewhere in the region? None of that can happen without a strong knowledge of the current legal regimes in each jurisdiction. Employment laws in Singapore and around the region are constantly changing. In order for HR practitioners, in-house legal counsel and senior business professionals to stay informed, regular detailed updates are vital. Brought to you by both the HRM Congress Series and Asian Legal Business magazine, the third annual Employment Law Congress 2010 is a special two-day event for all those involved in managing a labour force.


No more excuses

At a Glance The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organizations That Win Written by: Dave Ulrich and Wendy Ulrich Published by: McGraw Hill Recommended price: $38.50

A lack of accountability can be detrimental to business. In every office, there are employees you would trust your life with and others you wouldn’t count on to feed your pet fish. Leadership Without Excuses looks at how managers can take control of the situation and launch a leadership programme that focuses on engaging employees, executing strategy, and managing ethics and liability. Authors Jeff Grimshaw and Gregg Baron believe every organisation comes with three types of employees. The “Saints” are always accountable, whereas the “Sinners” never are. Luckily the majority of employees fall under the category of “Save-ables”: essentially people whose performance depends on the quality of their leaders. The authors teach managers how to reach out to this group and instill a sense of accountability. The secret is to communicate clear and credible expectations, create compelling consequences, and lead conversations grounded in reality. Cypress Communications, one of the companies featured in the book, had sales staff showing up at meetings with fake forecasts in an attempt to appease executives. To turn things around, its CEO Steve Chilling asked his sales managers for a 30-day sales forecast and had them pledge that they have actually talked to each of those

prospects, validating that things are on track. This new system increased accountability and improved sales forecasts. Managers no longer have to put up with excuses and shoddy work. Leadership Without Excuses aims to help them get their employees on track and on the road for success.

At a Glance Leadership Without Excuses: How to Create Accountability and High-Performance (Instead of Just Talking About It) Written by: Jeff Grimshaw and Gregg Baron Published by: McGraw Hill Recommended price: $41.30

Marina Bay Sands

Congress 2010 Scheduled for next month, delegates will hear firsthand from a panel of employment law experts from throughout the region. They will receive specialist advice on the legal intricacies of hiring, firing and retaining workforces in Singapore, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia (Day One), China, South Korea, the Philippines, and Vietnam (Day Two). In addition to the practical know-how, delegates will enjoy real-life case studies from organisations that have traveled some of the most difficult roads in employment law. There are also priceless opportunities to network and brainstorm solutions with colleagues.

28 and 29 September, 2010 Earlybird specials from $599 plus GST For more information call Eka at 6423 4631 or email at

issue 10.8


twenty-four seven

1.30pm Work on outstanding items, such as salary and policy reviews.

Tan chee keon Deputy Director, HR, Agency for Science, Technology and Research

6.30am Leave for office. Send my wife to work along the way. 7.15am Have breakfast in one of the many hawker centres along the way, and read the papers.

8.00am In the office. Review the day’s to-do list.

8.30am Check and reply to emails. 9.00am Run through CVs of job applicants

and make shortlists for interview.

10.00am Check and approve payroll for the month. There’s absolutly no room for error here!

10.30am Discuss with staff any outstanding matters and issues, including those arising from annual performance reviews.

12.30pm Lunchtime, I also run some personal errands.

2.30pm Attend different committee and project meetings. 4.30pm Concentrate on recruitment and exit interviews. The job market is certainly hotting up! Its important for A*Star to get its share of the talent. 6.15pm Check and update my to-do list. It’s often longer now than it was at the start of the day. 6.45pm Leave the office and head to the National University of Singapore Society Guild House for my weekly swim. 8.30pm Head back home, have dinner, unwind and watch some football highlights.

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JackMagik wows audiences around the world with his charming inimitable style, performing with cards, coins and other everyday objects. He does the impossible right before their eyes, and even in their very hands. JackMagik has years of experience performing magic in corporate events, product launches and privates parties. A mind-blowing experience for many who have never seen magic up close before! For booking enquires or live demonstrations, contact JackMagik at or drop him an email at .

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creating wonder. manipulating reality. one mind at a time.


issue 10.8

twenty-four seven

issue 10.8


talent ladder

Adeline Ng HR Specialist, APL Co

Irene Teo

Senior HR Manager, Cengage Learning Asia

Grace Wong VP, HR – Asia, Flextronics

Lilley Tern

Manager – HR and Administration, Sabre Holdings


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issue 10.8

Adeline Ng was with United Parcel Service Singapore before joining APL Co Pte Ltd as an HR Specialist (South Asia). Ng has around 10 years of HR experience, both in a generalist role as well as specialising in compensation and benefits. These roles have given her different expertise, focuses and insights into HR. Companies she has worked with in the past are Waters Asia, MTV Asia and Buckman Laboratories (Asia).

Irene Teo has recently joined Cengage Learning Asia Pte Ltd as its Senior HR Manager. She was with Keppel Telecommunications and Transportations for almost 11 years as an HR Manager before moving on to this new role. Teo has more than 15 years of work experience spanning a wide range of functions across the full spectrum of HR. She’s currently working on harmonising HR policies across 12 territories in Asia

Grace Wong has accepted the role of Vice President of HR, Asia, for Flextronics, leading a team of HR professionals spanning all of its operations in Asia. With over 95,000 employees in China, Wong spends a lot of time building the HR capability there. In particular, the team is learning to handle challenges relating to the changing demography in the work environment. Prior to Flextronics, Wong has worked for IT and High-Technology multinationals in the capacity of Head of regional HR for Asia.

Lilley Tern has been appointed as Manager, HR and Administration, at Sabre Holdings. She was previously an HR executive at Genesys Conferencing. Aside from HR and Administration, Tern was processing payroll for seven entities across Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Japan. Having had more than a decade’s worth of experience working in the full spectrum of the HR and Administration function, she now looks forward to even more challenges with Sabre.

in person


Boon Hun

Director, Rewards and HR Services, Aviva

Years in HR? 15 years Why HR? I have always had a comfort and interest in compensation and benefits Why Aviva? Aviva is a compelling company with a meaningful purpose Delivering Prosperity and Peace of Mind Biggest achievement? Deploying an international performance management system for a US multinational for all non-US employees Family? My wife and two young boys What happens after hours? I spend time relaxing with my family

issue 10.8


talent challenge

Personalised learning How can HR individualise learning and development programmes for staff? Alessandro Paparelli

Some time ago, at a seminar, a delegate told me during a break: “Coming here is ok for status, but we should never ask for training. It shows weakness.” I rarely heard a more stupid comment. Regional HR Director, Willingness to learn, on the contrary, shows maturity and confidence in one’s Asia/Pacific, potential. Just like encouraging it, on the company’s side, shows a correct Ferragamo understanding on how the value of its human capital is built, maintained and Hong Kong increased. A proactive approach from both sides is particularly important. Corporate training programmes are excellent in improving general skills, but if someone takes the initiative to highlight a specific need, that’s where organisations have an opportunity to really let someone shine. To spot these opportunities, HR professionals should know the profiles of their people well, and have a clear understanding of their current roles. Internal training from expert colleagues is an option that is often underestimated in individualising learning and development programmes.

Chandrani Chakraborty

At Citi India, we champion the “Personalised Organisational Development” plans that engage high potential employees to deal with three pillars: » Job Challenges: What are the aspects of the current and future aspiration role Head of Organisation and Talent that challenge the individual? Our belief is that as long as individuals are Development, challenged, they continue to learn out of those challenges and engage in the role. Citi South Asia » Assessment: 360-degree assessments form the key of a personalised assessment programme. Our belief is that self awareness and matching of self perception with peers is a powerful point to initiate any need and motivation for development. » Support: This is the culmination point of challenges and learning needs of the role and development needs of the individual. This is where a detailed personalised plan is drawn out and has a committed sign off from all stake holders. The three pillars are brought together by creating “learning value” for the individual with commitment to the development plan.

Vincy Ng

We are building up our leadership bench strength, part of Brady’s plan to quadruple in size over the next ten years. The vision that I have is that every employee will have the opportunity to be trained to ensure that they have maximum effectiveness and they can reach their potential. This will be achieved through four separate training areas: » Foundation: Looks at orientation and new hire training. This is a key building block for the next two areas. » Professional: Looks at key functional areas including HR, Finance and Marketing » Personal: Looks at soft skills development and individual effectiveness. These both lead to the final area. » Leadership: Looks at relationship and people development skills, and getting the most out of the people that work for you. These are the building blocks for a comprehensive matrix of training options that give all Brady staff the chance to be their best.

HR Director, Asia Pacific, Brady Corporation

issue 10.8


talent feature

Skills shortage threats Singapore businesses are in growth mode again – bringing talent attraction, development and leadership training to the forefront of the HR debate. But Karin Clarke, Randstad, warns the ever-present skills shortage will be a major obstacle to long-term prosperity


clarke Regional Director, Randstad


ingapore’s successful navigation through the global financial crisis has enabled a sharp economic recovery. What this brings, however, is a rise of issues such as attracting and retaining talent, and expectations of better remuneration packages – posing a great leadership challenge for organisations. That’s the verdict of the annual World of Work report from global recruitment and HR services company, Randstad. With total employment on the increase, 2010 has already brought the return of critical skills shortages. Singapore employers are again competing in the war for talent. 26% of respondents believe the biggest challenge for the next year will be attracting top talent, while retaining talent is seen as the next major leadership challenge. The single biggest workplace challenge in Singapore will come from increased turnover creating vacancies (36%) and the realignment of job roles to match business needs after the downturn (31%). The report highlights a fundamental risk to Singapore’s return to economic growth. Urgent action is needed to

address the issue of attracting the right talent to alleviate critical skills shortages in this country. As the economy continues to improve and employers gain greater hiring confidence, we will inevitably see a tightening of the skills market, as “hungry” employees seek greener pastures. What is concerning for a large number of employers is searching for the best talent to help fuel the renewed economic growth. Singapore’s navigation of the global financial crisis has been highlighted as an example of economic resilience and sound fiscal management. But this hard work could be wasted with three key forces now at play: a lack of employees with the skills required by businesses, an ageing population impacting on the availability of talent, and the misalignment of skills-sets due to the changing business environment following the restructures of last year. 68% of surveyed organisations rate their ability to attract talent as “strong” or “fair”, and this is driven by strong company reputation and brand (44%).

Attracting the right talent has always been a priority amongst Singapore businesses, and visionary leadership and effective communication will continue to play important roles. 37% say the biggest focus of their employer brand is to reinforce their employee value propositions with both current and prospective employees, and 48% of respondents believe the most important attribute of effective leadership is the ability to create and share an engaging vision for the future. 79% rate their leader’s ability to communicate a strategic vision “highly”. While 23% of employers think the main reason employees are motivated to stay is salary, 23% of employees say they are also motivated by a strong understanding role that contributes to organisational goals. What is encouraging is that 67% of employees are either “happy”, or “very happy” in their role. So as many organisations across Singapore quickly steady themselves following last year’s unprecedented change, the role of HR is back in the spotlight with effective people and leadership strategies critical to business growth. As competition for talent heats up, the most successful practitioners will win through effective change management, a focus on workforce productivity, and by leading the market in creative talent attraction, engagement and retention strategies. For insight into the burning questions driving this year’s HR debate, request a copy of the Randstad 2010 World of Work report by visiting issue 10.8


executive appointments The Biomedical Sciences Institutes (BMSI) Business Centre, a shared service provider for corporate services encompassing Finance, Procurement, Human Resource and Office Administration to various research entities, seeks a suitably qualified candidate to join the team as:

Deputy Director (Human Resource) Key Responsibilities: Reporting to the Director of the Shared Services, you will be responsible to lead, plan, develop and implement Training and Development solutions in a newly formed training unit: • Develop and implement a Competency-based Training and Development Framework • Analyse training needs and recommend solutions • Explore opportunities to streamline processes through information technology • Conceptualise and deliver a Talent Management Framework • Recommend and implement Organisation Development and improvement programmes, including the Employee Engagement Survey, to enhance organisation performance and effectiveness Requirements: • Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resource, Arts or a related discipline; postgraduate qualification in Human Resource would be advantageous • Minimum 15 years’ of working experience preferably in both public and private sectors, with at least 10 years experience in managerial role • Excellent problem-solving and communication skills, with a track record in building effective working relationships, especially at the senior management level • Self-starter who is hands-on and results-oriented

Interested applicants should send their CV including their current and expected salaries by to We regret that only shortlisted candidates will be notified.

Searching for HR professionals? Look no further than hrm

Number 1 Media for Reaching HR Audited at 14,287 copies per month - HRM Singapore’s HR job listings reach more HR professionals each month than any other media. And with our competitive pricing you can increase the number of quality responses - whilst saving money!

Please contact us on (65) 6423 4631 for full details


issue 10.8

executive appointments

CONNECTING GREAT PEOPLE TO GREAT OPPORTUNITIES SENIOR TOTAL REWARDS CONSULTANT Leading Asset Manager Reports to Head of Total Rewards This role provides research, analytics, consulting and communications support for the Total Rewards programs in Asia. The role partners with HR, payroll and corporate groups to implement and administer Total Rewards initiatives. You will also participate in salary surveys, administer the year end process and support stock, pension and benefit programs in regional offices and ensure compliance with established compensation and company policies. Role responsibilities include job evaluations, market analyses/data reporting, support year end processes, liaison with payroll/corporate accounts, addressing C&B-related queries, C&B program administration, and support implementation of new benefit programs in Asia. You are tertiary qualified with min. 5 – 8 years of C&B experience in a MNC environment, with regional exposure. You have managed Total Rewards projects independently and able to work autonomously to resolve routine department or customer issues.

HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER, MALAYSIA Leading Organisation People Management Role Based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Listed on NYSE, our client is a global industrial engineering organisation and now seeks a dynamic HR Manager to join its Malaysia operation. You will be responsible in leading and coaching a team of HR staff in providing quality service to the business and regional office. You will work closely with business leaders and corporate HR in driving and implementing HR Policies and Processes, and talent plan to ensure adequate and effective resources are available for the business and build capability and develop positive employee relations continuously. You should have at least 10 years of HR generalist experience including 5 years at managerial level in MNCs. You must have strong customerorientation, demonstrated exceptional skills in the areas of interpersonal, communication, negotiation and problem solving. You will be able to communicate effectively in English and Malay.

Contact Kenneth Gan quoting HRMP/28369A/KGN.

Contact Maureen Ho quoting HRMP/28562/MH.



Leading Organisation Challenging and Rewarding Role Based in Singapore A global multinational company, our client is recognised as a leading player within its industry sector, and renowned for its strong focus on discovering, developing and innovating sustainable product lines. This role is ideal for an experienced Compensation & Benefits practitioner who enjoys designing and implementing strategic best practices to support rapid business growth and expansion in the Asia Pacific region. You will work closely with in-country HR teams and corporate to link global C&B policies to the region.

Leading Companies Seeking HR Generalist and Functional Experts Exciting Career Development Opportunities Exceptional opportunities await HR Professionals who seek to enhance their experience and knowledge in leading companies. Our clients seek strategic, hands-on and performance-driven individuals who are dedicated to contribute to overall human resources development. The successful candidates will drive initiatives and activities to support HR strategies. You will proactively invest in people resources and competency development, and cultivate a corporate culture attracting people to grow within the business.

You should possess a Bachelors degree and professional C&B certifications. You must have 10 years of MNC C&B experience with 4 years of regional exposure. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills are crucial. You must be hands-on as well as strategically-minded and capable of operating well in a fast paced environment.

The ideal candidates must have at least 8 years experience as HR generalist in leading or business partnering roles, or functional expertise with regional exposure. You should be experienced working in highly matrix, multinational working environments and possess strong interpersonal and communications skills.

Contact Maureen Ho quoting HRMP/28579/MH.

Contact Maureen Ho quoting HRMP/27868/MH.

Hudson is proud to be a winner of HUMAN RESOURCES MAGAZINE’S HR VENDORS OF THE YEAR AWARDS 2009: Preferred Recruitment Firm – Roles over $10K PM Preferred Recruitment Firm – Roles over $10K PM (Government & Personal Services) Preferred Recruitment Firm – Roles over $10K PM (IT & Telecommunications) Preferred Recruitment Firm – Roles over $10K PM (Headcount size 201-500) Preferred Recruitment Firm – Roles over $10K PM (Headcount size over 1,000) To apply please enter the relevant reference number in the ‘Job ref number/keyword’ section of Alternatively, email your resume to quoting the relevant reference number.

HRM_july_01.indd 1

7/8/2010 2:09:26 PM

issue 10.8


executive appointments

Returning the Human to Resourcing

HR Director, South Asia

Senior Assessment Psychologist

Human Resources Generalist

Highly Visible Role

Premier Global Bank

Premier Asset Management Firm

Senior Management

Senior Manager

Singapore Role

Strong Business Partnering

Excellent Career Progression

Business Partnership

Our client is an established multinational with a strong global footprint. An opportunity now exists for a strategic business partner to join them in this generalist role.

Our client is a major bank with a strong and long established presence in the region. It is recruiting a dynamic and highly capable Senior Assessment Psychologist.

Reporting to the Regional President and working closely with senior management, you will ensure that HR policies, practices and resources are in alignment with overall business and corporate objectives. This also includes leading and implementing key long-term and short-tem HR initiatives that impact overall compensation, succession planning and recruitment strategies.

This premier global asset management firm has a strong presence in the US, Europe and significant footprint in Asia. As a result of an internal progression, it is looking for a high caliber HR Generalist.

Reporting to the Head of Selection within the Group HR, you will provide direction and advice to the business and senior stakeholders on matters related to assessment and selection. You will provide input on the assessment for selection strategy, consult on assessment needs, and design and implement assessment projects in line with the selection strategy. You will train the resourcing and hiring managers on selection processes, tools and mechanisms.

Ideally, you should be degree qualified with at least 10 years of HR experience, of which half should be in a team management role. You possess strong working knowledge of HR practices across the region as well as have a broad overview of certain specialist functions. You are excellent in managing client relationships at senior levels and have the ability to articulate and implement these initiatives on the ground. To apply, please submit your resume to Cecelia Koh at, quoting the job title and reference number CK2428\HRM, or call (65) 6333 8530 for more details.

With a Degree in Industrial and Organisational Psychology, you possess a strong knowledge of occupational assessment tools and processes, including psychometrics and simulations, and competency model design and implementation in large organisations.

Degree qualified, you will have 5 - 8 years of relevant experience gained in a major MNC or bank. With excellent interpersonal and communication skills, you are independent but also a strong team player. You are analytical, mature and proactive in your approach.

To apply, please submit your resume to Adnan Atan at, quoting the job title and reference number AA2544\HRM, or call (65) 6333 8530 for more details.

To apply, please submit your resume to Adnan Atan at, quoting the job title and reference number AA2294\HRM, or call (65) 6333 8530 for more details.

banking | ďƒžnance | human resources


issue 10.8

Reporting to the Head of HR, you will provide a full spectrum of HR services to various business units. You will align HR practices and solutions to business objectives, and ensure that the firm remains competitive in attracting, developing and retaining talents. You will interact with global counterparts on policy and its implementation, and have the opportunity to participate in HR and business unit projects.

executive appointments HRM Awards 2009 Sponsor of the Best HR Manager of the Year Award Asiamoney Headhunters Poll 2009 Best Headhunting Firm - Middle/Back-Office category No. 2 in Asia

C&B Manager (APAC)

Business HR – SVP

HR Director (East Asia)

Diversified US MNC Globally Well Respected Progressive Organization

Progressive Global Bank Group Technology & Operations Highly Visible Role

Strategic HR Succession Planning Strong Business Partnering

Globally respected as one of the world’s leading and innovative chemical companies, there is now an opportunity for a high caliber C&B Manager to join them.

This premier bank enjoys a strong reputation within the industry and is known for its innovative product offerings. It is recruiting an HR Business Partner for its Group Technology & Operations division ( T&O ).

Highly respected FMCG with a significant global footprint, there is now an opportunity for a high caliber, self-driven HR professional to join them in their regional office in Singapore.

Reporting to the HR Director, you will guide business leaders in developing and implementing compensation strategies aligned with corporate needs. You will lead annual salary reviews and develop compensation plans that are both equitable and competitive. Additionally, you will manage cross border assignments in APAC.

Reporting to the Global Head of HR for T&O, you will drive and align the people agenda for T&O division across the region. You will provide leadership to senior T&O leaders in enhancing business performance. You will perform a diverse role including performance management, talent management, leadership development and change management so as to align people objectives with strategic agenda. You will ensure that HR strategies and policies are constantly benchmarked against best practices and appropriate changes are implemented.

To apply, please submit your resume to Cecelia Koh at, quoting the job title and reference number CK2473\HRM, or call (65) 6333 8530 for more details.

Degree qualified, you will have at least 10 15 years of experience gained in a major MNC. With strong interpersonal and communication skills, you will be proactive, mature, strategic and credible. Culturally sensitive, you are able to influence priorities and build relationship at all levels.

You are HR qualified and have worked at least 10 years in a progressive multinational, preferably in FMCG/services. Exposure to operational in-country roles as well as strategic positions at the regional/global level is advantageous. You are strategic in mindset and operational/detailed in execution. You are excellent in building relationships and are a strong business partner.

To apply, please submit your resume to Adnan Atan at, quoting the job title and reference number AA2543\HRM, or call (65) 6333 8530 for more details.

To apply, please submit your resume to Cecelia Koh at, quoting the job title and reference number CK2521\HRM, or call (65) 6333 8530 for more details.

Licence No: C690801Z

Ideally, you should be degree qualified and have at least 5 years of experience in C&B. Good knowledge of compensation practices, legislations and trends is highly advantageous. You are a proven leader with strong communication and influencing skills. You are confident and have no issues dealing with senior management.

Reporting to the Regional President and working closely with the senior management team, you will implement the global HR policies and practices whilst ensuring local and regional business needs are met. This is a generalist business partnering role encompassing issues pertaining to compensation and benefits, international mobility and assignments, talent management and succession planning as well as training and development.

issue 10.8


executive appointments


issue 10.8

executive appointments

issue 10.8


executive appointments


issue 10.8

executive appointments

Our client is well-established Luxury European MNC under Retail Sector is inviting suitably qualified candidates to fill in as an ASSISTANT HR MANAGER to be based in Malaysia.


MAJOR DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES: Reporting to the Managing Director, manage the full spectrum of HR functions for Malaysia, which include: • Compensation and benefits – 30% • Recruitment and Selection – 20% • Payroll administration – 20% • Training & development – 10% • Employee Relations – 10% • Expatriate Management – 10% Undertake Regional HR projects from their subsidiary in HK. To meet project objectives and deadline and ensure smooth implementation of regional HR project in Malaysia. Compensation & Benefits • Communicate HR policies and procedures in accordance with legal and company guidelines. • Maintaining of confidential staff records and personal files. • Monitor leave, medical and insurance coverage, overtime payment, sales Incentive etc. • Helping Managing Director to ensure head of department(s) carry out the Management Potential Performance (MPP) exercise accordingly. Recruitment • Recruitment through the completion of the related administrative functions including pre-screening and short listing of candidates. • Arrange head of department(s) for interviewing and selection processes. • Manage the new hiring process. • Administer staff resignation, termination process and conduct exit interviews. • Maintain staff headcount. Payroll Administration • Administer monthly payroll, including overtime and allowances. • Ensure payroll accuracy and timely payment to employee. • Update, coordinate and compile relevant monthly government reports and survey as requested by the regulatory bodies. • Prepare payment to remit appropriate funds to the relevant statutory agencies for EPF, SOCSO, and Income Tax. • Prepare monthly headcount report to Company Subsidiary in HongKong. • Monthly update company information to Peoplesoft system. Training & Development • Conduct competency gap analysis for all staff. • Identify within Company catalogues the appropriate training programs. Alternatively, source appropriate 3rd party training programs. • Coordinate and monitor the training plan in line with regional and company directives and budget.

Regional HR project • Undertake ad-hoc regional HR projects as assigned and when necessary. Trade Union • Dealing with the National Union of Commercial Workers (NUCW) and the Commercial Employers’ Association of Peninsular Malaysia (CEAPM) Others • Administer day-to-day operations work, like staff claims, invoices etc. • Organise Company Incentive Trip on yearly basis. • Organise sport club activities, to promote good staff relations. REQUIREMENTS: • Degree holder in any discipline • Fluent in both spoken and written skills in English • At least 5 - 8 years solid working experience in Human Resources with MNC • Team player, reliable and dependable. • Good problem solving, analytical and interpersonal and communication skills • Ability to work under pressure to deliver target within tight deadlines. • Strong knowledge of local labour laws and regulations • Strong skills and knowledge in compensation and benefits is preferred • Good organizational, problem solving and analytical skills. • Computer literacy • Mature and able to work independently with minimal supervision. • Proactive approach to getting things done Successful candidates should be dynamic, self-motivated, proactive, and results-oriented with a proven track record in MNC environment. Other pre-requisites are excellent team spirit, strong technical competence, good interpersonal skills and with a “can-do” attitude as well as strong commercial and business acumen. Interested Applicants to submit a detailed and updated resume in MS Word format to issue 10.8


executive appointments

make your mark in human resources Talent2’s thriving Human Resource practice across Asia Pacific can work with you to develop your career both in Singapore and around the region.

Practice Lead, Rewards

Senior HR Business Partner/s

Our Client is a leading HR Consulting Firm that’s seeking a senior, Compensation & Benefits Specialist to join their expanding team of Total Rewards and Talent Management strategists.

We are seeking talented HR Professionals for a Generalist, Full-spectrum, Business Partnering role in a variety of multinational companies, across multiple industry sectors.

As Practice Leader, you will manage large and complex projects on rewards, linking performance management and measurement systems; design and implement innovative strategies and solutions to meet client requirements and business objectives; lead project teams and contribute to staff development; contribute to intellectual product development; take on a significant role in client management and ensure lasting and continuous relationships with clients.

We are looking for individuals who will: (1) contribute to the development and accomplishment of the company’s business plan and objectives, be able to think and act for the business, and be accountable for cost reductions and the measurement of all HR programmes and processes; (2) help establish the company culture and climate in which people are motivated to succeed and, (3) champion the company’s mission, vision, values, goals and action plans.

Job Reference: 29133/SW

You must have a strong understanding of compensation and benefits; exceptional numerical and analytical skills; demonstrated ability to manage senior level clients and the ability to contribute in a high performance environment. Must have – at least 8 years work experience in Compensation / Consulting.

Job Reference: 23471/SW

If you possess a Degree, have between 8 – 10 years of HR work experience as a Generalist, can demonstrate capabilities to perform HR Strategy-cum-Operational roles, and you have a CV that exhibits growth/tenure within a company, I would like to meet you to ascertain your suitability for any one of these active roles.

Australia > China > Hong Kong > India > Japan > Malaysia > Middle East > New Zealand > Singapore > UK > USA


issue 10.8

executive appointments

Senior Assessment Psychologist

HR Manager

Our client is a global bank. As part of its efforts to hire and retain the right people, it is now looking for a Senior Assessment Psychologist.

Our client is a leading global player in the FMCG industry. It is looking for a HR Manager to strengthen its HR fundamentals and to partner the business to achieve business targets. This is a critical role which will be responsible for developing best practices in a results窶電riven culture, attracting and retaining the best performers. Key responsibilities include creating training and organizational development plans to meet personal, professional, and organizational needs of employees and handling compensation and benefits programs to ensure regulatory compliance and market competitiveness.

Job Reference: 29148/SC

This is a critical role which will provide direction and advice to business and senior stakeholders on matters related to assessment and selection including consulting with internal stakeholders on assessment needs, designing and implementing assessment projects, training resourcing and hiring managers on selection processes, tools and mechanisms. The right candidate must have a post graduate qualification in I/O Psychology. You also have an in-depth and up to date knowledge of occupational assessment tools and processes including psychometrics, simulations, situational judgement, thorough knowledge of research methodology and statistics and knowledge of competency model design and implementation in large organisations.

Job Reference: 28992/SC

We are looking for a young, dynamic and all rounded HR person - operationally strong in all HR processes, able to connect and communicate with people from all levels and able to understand business challenges and align HR programs to business goals.

To apply please email your resume to, or contact our HR specialists Ms Foo Siew Chin on +65 6511 8525 or Ms Sharon Wong on +65 6511 8552 for a preliminary confidential discussion.

issue 10.8


executive appointments

MAxiMiSE yOuR POtEntiAL it wiLL tRAnSfORM yOuR LifE Regional HR Director (SEA) Regional focus. Global organisation.

Strong HR Manager South East Asia remit. Global luxury fashion brand.

This trusted and respected brand within the manufacturing industry is looking to recruit an HR Director to focus on South East Asian countries. This newly created role will require a strong focus on organisational development, talent acquisition and succession planning. You will lead and supervise the HR functions across the remit, building strong relationships with management teams to develop, communicate and implement the strategic direction of HR operations. Furthermore, you will provide detailed HR support to the regional leadership team in the form of talent management, acquisition, organisational development, rewards management and L&D.

This is an exciting opportunity for an HR Manager to manage Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand. This retailer has expansion plans to increase their presence across SEA over the next 18 months. The company is seeking an HR Manager to integrate new systems and roll out brand awareness by L&D, training and competence. Using creative flair and innovative methods to search for talent into the business, the focus would be on talent management and succession planning. You must be ideally from a fashion retail background, however, luxury, cosmetics and high end hospitality industries will also be considered.

Strategic Business Partner (Director Level) Multinational organisation. Pan Asian exposure.

Leading HR Manager HR across a large division. Oil and gas.

With their APAC regional headquarters based in Singapore, this company is a leader in property development/investment. They are well known within the industry and are experiencing strong, continued growth. An outstanding opportunity has arisen for a senior HR professional to look after a number of business units that cover Asia Pacific. You will be an outstanding business partner with a good track record of working within a global organisation within a similar capacity. One of the most important aspects of this role is to work closely with the business, transforming its strategic objectives into specific human resources programs.

Working closely with the HR Director, you will build a partnership with management whilst ensuring all HR programs are delivered in the most effective way. Using the best approach, you will champion the full HR spectrum. Key areas such as recruitment, compensation and benefits, review and implementation of existing HR strategies and writing policies will be the initial focus. Working in a hands on, operational role and accountable for translating business and HR strategies into the HR roadmap, you will ideally have been an HR Manager from an oil and gas background.


issue 10.8

executive appointments

training & Development Manager Deliver training programmes within banking.

Senior Manager/VP HR Operational and regional responsibility.

Working closely with the learning and development function, this exciting new role will encompass the strategy of an outsourced, stand up trainer aligning with HR to monitor what is happening within this financial services organisation. You will then be required to create bespoke training programmes handling the training cycle from planning, designing and delivery over the next three years. Candidates who are existing trainers with a minimum of five years experience of delivering stand up training within the banking sector are preferred.

This leading retail conglomerate is looking for a Regional VPHR to look after a portfolio of 100 staff within HQ operations (Singapore), coordinating and driving regional HR activities including C&B, manpower planning, succession planning, talent management and HR policy review/alignment. Reporting to the APAC Head, you will provide training, guidance and professional HR advice to HR teams in each country using your strong operational and regional experience. You will be confident to engage senior management independently and possess positive energy to lead cross-cultural teams within a fast paced environment.

Compensation Consultant Consult in total rewards across South East Asia. This is a fantastic opportunity for a technical compensation and benefits specialist to work within a leading human resources consulting firm. Your main task will be to assist clients in improving and executing talent management, competency based KPI driven, performance management systems and specialising in total rewards solutions. This will encompass the development, implementation and communication of total compensation and talent management strategies, including salary structure evaluations, incentive bonus plans, share-based compensation plans and employee benefits studies. Contact Ash Russell at or +65 6223 4535 or Mamta Shukla at or +65 6223 4535.

issue 10.8


executive appointments


issue 10.8

Does finding the perfect candidate remind you of a root canal? What do you do? Advertising. Interviewing. Rejecting. Approving. Interpreting labor laws. And all while you simultaneously run a business. Wouldn't it be great to have a local hiring expert on your team who understands your industry and its regulations, knows who you need, and can even save you up to 50% of the total recruiting costs? There's a thought. Call us at +65 62328811, or visit

HRM 10.08  

Celebrating 100 issues