Head (Organisational Excellence),
Corporate Development and Emergency Preparedness Division,
Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore
Let me give you some background. Our organisation had developed a new innovation framework aimed at building up an innovation culture, and this required full participation and involvement from all levels of the company. However, it was met with resistance from many rank-and-file staff, as well as most of the middle and senior management.
For rank-and-file employees, poor previous experiences, such as having their suggestions rejected without reason, led to their resistance.
While middle and senior managers were generally supportive of the scheme, many saw it as additional work that might distract them from their primary goals. Others deemed the initiative as “non-critical” and were reluctant to get too involved in championing the innovation movement.
In order to help staff understand and accept the change, we turned the innovation movement into a “journey” with three distinct phases: the awareness phase, the contribution phase and the entrenchment phase.
We began by providing a list of reasons why the initiative was introduced and how it would align to the vision and mission of the organisation.
Next, we revised and enhanced existing employee schemes to incentivise staff and generate participation. For example, we decided to make participation in each of the various schemes voluntary.
To ensure sustained staff interest and participation, we developed new activities to keep the movement “fun” for employees. We also regularly reviewed and updated the existing schemes and processes so that they remained attractive and easy to use.
To get further buy-in and ensure sustainability of the initiative, organisations can also employ the following strategies:
- Create value for the various divisions by explaining how the new initiative will be able to help them achieve their own goals.
- Identify activists from each division to assist management in championing the movement.
- Develop a sustained publicity campaign to increase staff awareness.
- Simplify existing processes to make submission of suggestions hassle-free, and also ensure suggestions are evaluated within a reasonable period of time.
Head of HR Business Partners, Group HR,
Using social media for business communication, other than social engagements, is now the norm. When employees use their personal social media accounts to communicate their perspectives, lifestyle choices, personal stances on politics, company issues, and so on, it can potentially have a direct or indirect impact on the company’s branding and credibility in the industry.
If an employee’s negatively expressed opinions are further propagated through the general public, it can have a deep and long-lasting impact on the company’s reputation. All employees are ambassadors of the organisation they work for, whether during or outside of work.
Any organisation must keep their employees informed of the reasons and policies for the need to monitor their social media accounts, including how this is implemented. It is therefore best to keep these policies open and transparent in a continuous effort to maintain the trust between the company and staff.
Adopting and communicating a Code of Business Conduct can help provide a guide about acceptable behaviours that comply with the company’s guidelines.
It is important to establish the boundaries upfront so that employees can understand the reasons behind the monitoring of their internet usage, including social media platforms.
Alternatively, some companies may prefer to communicate the same through their employee handbook, which may include additional or specific rules of engagement for social media.
Not complying with the established policies may result in disciplinary actions.
Senior HR Manager
CÉ LA VI Singapore
Organisational change can produce ambiguity. In order to minimise this, leaders must be able to listen to employees’ concerns. HR should conduct frequent communication and discussions that provide a humane touch and focus on addressing the issues of employees. Recent studies have showed that communication has a positive correlation with many organisational outputs, including organisational commitment, performance, and job satisfaction.
Meaningful communication requires a degree of “cognitive organisational reorientation”, including comprehension and appreciation of the proposed change. Employees who feel more invested in the process of company change show higher levels of motivation and internalise new methods of operation more quickly. This allows for a smoother transition and helps the company increase overall productivity.
Aligning the business goals of the company with the personal goals of employees can help HR to increase motivation through an organisational change. Transparency goes a long way towards assuaging employee doubts about a change, and allows workers to feel more involved with the company's new initiatives.
Employees are the key sources to bring about change in any organisation. To encourage them, the business must address any apprehensions and issues related to the change. Job insecurity should be decreased and a sense of community should be created so that employees may feel their responsibilities. The need for change and the advantages will motivate the staff to participate in the plan and help execute it.
Director – Global Talent and Organisation Development
United Test and Assembly Centre
HR has a catalyst role to play within the organisation to help employees manage and drive their careers. Initiatives should focus on changing employees’ mindsets to current realities:
- Mindset I: A shift from a sense of “secured employment” to one of “secured employability”. Where previously careers and job security were with the organisation, now employees need to take personal accountability for developing and shaping their own careers.
- Mindset II: A shift from learning on an as-needed basis to life-long learning. Employees need to proactively identify current and future career requirements. They are required to “stay in school” and keep learning to continue to add value to their business.
HR also needs to manage the core people processes to support employees driving their own careers. This includes:
- The performance management process to drive individual development plans for career development. Managers and employees should collaborate on career plans, development areas and goals.
- Learning and development initiatives that are aligned to both the business and the career needs of employees. Staff should reskill themselves with specialist and transferable skills while having a broad industry knowledge. These goals can be achieved through both formal and informal development initiatives, including direct education, self-learning, and networking.
- A talent management strategy and succession planning process that’s supported by an internal job opportunities programme (IOP). While talents have differentiated development initiatives, an IOP programme provides opportunities for all employees to apply for internal positions.
In managing careers, HR’s role has shifted from being the driver of career development to a facilitator. Various communication channels including career counseling and workshops would be helpful to educate employees. If done successfully, employees will see this as a value proposition and recognise the organisation as a great place to work, learn, and grow careers.
Regional HR Director, Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa
It is good to start by making sure that you have a very clear understanding of how the current policy works for employees. Then, with traditional benefit schemes, you would typically find that the utilisations of the different benefits are uneven among staff. Employees depending on their age, family situation, health conditions and interests utilise the various benefit options differently. Most employees do not utilise all of the options available to them. However, some staff may over use and even overspend beyond the budget.
It is important to understand how the actual spend looks against the set budget, and then to decide which one you want to use as the basis for defining the new framework. I believe the crucial element is to have clear and transparent communication with employees to clearly spell out the objective of the flexible scheme. This could, for example, be to recognise and satisfy the different situations, needs and preferences of each employee by empowering them to design their own benefit package within the given framework.
On the other hand, you also have to be transparent and highlight that this will also help the company to allocate benefits in an equal and fair way. Likewise, you should clearly demonstrate how the change impacts the individuals based on their past utilisation.
Another small technical point is to consider possible taxation changes to any of the benefits within the flexible scheme. HR should define and communicate the individual budget as a gross amount, therefore any future taxation change will not impact the total cost.
HR Director – Global Travel Retail
The conditions a working interview provides can be really effective in assessing a candidate, as compared to traditional interview methodologies.
It may not always be easy to replicate the “real” work environment but what a working interview provides is a real-time opportunity to explore both functional skills and leadership traits in a dynamic environment where both can be observed together.
In a traditional interview process, you typically assess skills and leadership traits through an isolated line of questioning. A candidate with minimal qualifications and exposure to the field can perform well in such a setting with the right level of preparation and training. It also demands a high level of proficiency from interviewers to make the right judgments and it takes time to build such a proficiency.
Therefore, the closer we can get to creating a “real” work environment during the interview process, the better. Recruiters can use that platform to observe the candidate demonstrating their functional capabilities as well as their personality and ability to interact with others.
Most of us already use various aspects or adaptations of a working interview approach. We see it in the following forms: hiring on the basis of internship; assessment during a probationary period; and inviting prospective employees to certain meetings. A careful consideration to including more elements of this working interview approach in the hiring process, and allowing more opportunities to observe the candidate in such an environment, can really help to increase the effectiveness of hiring decisions.
On a lighter note, a “working interview” is to an employer-employee relationship, what “dating” is to a relationship of marriage, it’s really effective in assessing the “fit” at a point in time.
Director, HR, Asia-Pacific
Starwood Asia-Pacific Hotels & Resorts
As age demographics become more diverse in the workforce, HR professionals can focus on five areas to better manage the different age groups and be ready for the smart workforce.
Effective workforce planning: Map the age structures of teams and integrate the average age of new hires into a simulation to determine short-to-medium term workforce planning. This helps identify potential skill deficits that guides sourcing, leveraging on both the older and emerging workforce. Identifying the best position for this will be a critical HR task as harnessing the productivity of both groups is key.
Flexible work arrangements: Offer and promote a variety of work arrangements to meet customer demands as well as motivate and retain employees. These include part-time employment to attract new entrants who seek flexible work and retain experienced employees, or telecommuting to allow employees to work effectively from home.
Rewards: Customise rewards as a strategic incentive to lure talent. Typically, reward packages are performance-oriented and age-independent. Customising to be relevant to varying workforce ages will offer choice and place responsibility on employees to choose the best plan to meet their needs.
Learning and development: Deliver training and development solutions to sustain corporate performance, productivity, and employee motivation. Generations learn differently and companies should offer a range of solutions for learning preferences such as formal training, on-the-job training, and e-learning.
Corporate culture: Nurture a corporate culture that promotes diversity and knowledge management. Successful integration of different age and social groups helps combat age-specific prejudices across generations. Nurturing transfers of knowledge and experience from the exiting workforce will also guide succession planning.
Analysing workforce areas that will be affected by retirements and new entrants, then developing strategies to understand these changes and proactively managing these demographics realignment is, essentially, “smart workforce management”.
Head of Group HR
Commonwealth Capital Group
Employer branding is commonly defined as the process of promoting a company as an employer of choice to two groups of people – those already within whom the company wants to retain, and those outside which it needs to recruit. The activities that take place as a result, are linked for both groups. When line managers are able to create positive experiences that their team members appreciate and treasure, the employees start believing that they are working for the right company, teams and leaders. This translates to happy employees serving happy customers.
The effect then rubs off on customers who feel that they want to be part of this amazing culture, which eventually helps with recruitment.
So where does HR sit in this whole process? Like an architect, HR is able to provide the best-in-class and most sophisticated design blueprint to the builder. But what really matters is how the builder ensures that only the highest-quality finishing and materials are used to create the eventual living experience. HR can help with employer branding by designing the right programmes and leveraging on the right channels, but true employer branding is best delivered by the company’s brand ambassadors – its line managers and employees.
At Commonwealth Capital Group, our internal referrals are testament to how powerful employer branding can be. Many teams in our different business streams (retail, production and logistics) are filled through word-of-mouth and referrals. This not only helps us to hire the right people into the company, it ensures a great fit between team leaders and new hires. After all, current employees will only refer those they know who will be able to succeed in the company. And when this happens, it’s easy to see why. With the right employer branding, retention becomes the best source of recruitment.
Assistant Vice President of HR (Talent Management)
Coaching is about helping individuals to achieve specific outcomes, be they performance improvement or enhancement of a particular issue at work. Coaching helps to identify the issues impeding excellence and provides solutions to improve the outcome. Coaching usually has specified performance objectives, and the relationship may also end upon the achievement of those objectives.
Mentoring is more holistic in nature. Looking beyond excellence in certain areas, mentors have a vested interest in the overall development and career progression of their mentees and will take a longer term view of the person as a whole. A mentor is usually someone more senior who can offer a great listening ear, provide good advice in return and, if the need arises, open doors for the mentee. The engagement is driven by establishing a trusting relationship, as compared to the performance of a specific task.
From a talent management perspective, it is important to discern these differences as they apply to a fairly unique set of circumstances for staff. If we’re looking to increase the performance of a particular team or individual, coaching could very well be adequate. The selection of the coach could be a subject matter expert within the organisation who could offer their specific expertise.
Mentoring on the other hand will require more commitment and planning. Nurturing identified high potentials would be a good setting for when mentoring would be effective. Caution however, must be taken to ensure that the right mentor-mentee fit is in place.
Things to consider could include personality styles, work experience, and the backgrounds of both parties. If a rapport cannot be established between them, it would be extremely difficult to build a fruitful mentoring relationship.
Vice President and Head, HR
State Bank of India, Singapore
Employee engagement is a strategic tool that can add real value to top-line growth and bottom-line performance. Employees who are thoroughly engaged in their work and who demonstrate true commitment are the best investments any company can make.
The first step that HR departments can take in improving employee engagement level is understanding where they are in relation to a known standard. There are many pathways to foster engagement, with no one-size-that-fits-all strategy. While most companies have tried various out-of-the-box initiatives, there are few evergreen” strategies that would suit most organisations.
Big or small, the work people are putting in has meaning. Providing clear and meaningful projects that are key to an individual’s and organisation’s growth are some of the key engagement factors for employees. Refill their energy tanks with some recognition schemes and celebrate their hard work; this will create a performance driven and rewarding culture, keeping the workforce engaged and happy.
Managing relationships is another critical skill. HR departments must ensure regular interactions by way of formal and informal chats, town halls, get-togethers and one-on-one meetings. This will not only ensure that HR knows the pulse of its people, but that it will also find ways to identify gaps and work with business leaders to design solutions. This will provide employees with a high level of trust and a sense of value.
While each company may define employee engagement differently, ultimately, the key to effective engagement will be rooted in the flexibility of approach most appropriate for each individual firm. Many organisations focus on engagement strategies without evaluating their effectiveness. Having an engagement strategy is key. However, you must also determine whether it is making a difference.