The Snitch

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Archive for June 2011

HRTV: ControlCircle on effective staff engagement

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Singapore – With staff retention a rising concern among companies, the CEO of ControlCircle says implementing cross-function projects and groups is one strategic way to engage employees effectively.

One key engagement strategy technical services company ControlCircle uses to engage its employees is implementing cross-function groups and cooperation whenever appropriate. Carmen Carey, the firm’s CEO, says doing so provides a platform for employees to understand and empathise how other parts of the business work.

“Our intellectual property resides within our people, so we need to make sure that they are fully engaged with the business, and they understand where we are going and their part in achieving, realising that destination.”

ControlCircle also has continual development and training opportunities for its employees, which allows them to take “more pride” in their work.

In addition, Carey believes in recognising and rewarding staff in formal quarterly reviews as it helps to “facilitate a sense of achievement for individuals and teams”.

As a female leader in the tech industry, Carey says women who aim to rise to leadership roles ought to engage their managers and senior executives to be part of their “success journey”. She adds that the individual has to clear about one’s eventual career goal, while staying engaged in the business.

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Written by Human Resources

June 29, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Small Talk: Jobs and wages go up in Asia

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Singapore – The positive economic outlook in Asia is cause for celebration for many employees as they can now expect salary increases this year.

Senior executives in Asia can anticipate a pay rise of up to 7% this year, as revealed in Mercer’s Global Executives Remuneration Trends report.  It added the shortage of executive talent with the ability to innovate and think globally are a couple of the many factors driving the salary increase.

Closer to home in Malaysia, there has been a 33% increase in the number of job, which the logistics, engineering and business development industries leading the growth. According to the Robert Walters’ Asia job Index, hiring activities within the financial services, retail and telecommunications have also been steadily rising.


Locally, human resources (HR) professionals can look forward to a pay rise of between 6% and 9% this year. The Michael Page Employee Intentions Report added that 40% of employees will only stay with their current employer if the financial rewards offered are sufficient.


Besides discussing what Generation X and Y employees think are the strongest retention strategies, Small Talk looks at why the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) might take legal action against a recruitment agency. The firm had posted a job ad which asked for only permanent residents and employment pass holders to apply. MOM has said the agency acted in “a manner detrimental to public interest”.

“This reiterates the need for fair play when it comes to hiring, and the need to hire on merit,” Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister for State for Manpower, said in a blog post with regards to the incident.

Sabrina Zolkifi and Kylie Ng also reveal this week’s top Bizarre HR story about a new transport a businessman in China is taking to work.

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Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

June 24, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

HRTV: PwC on the importance of work-life balance

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Singapore – Employers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of providing staff with a good work-life balance, and the impact it has on employees’ productivity.

Deborah Ong, human capital partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), said companies who are able to provide their employees with a healthy work-life balance will see an increase in their staff’s productivity. This is because organisations will be helping employees develop holistically through work and play, and make the staff feel valued and taken care of.

In an interview with HRTV at the recent JP Morgan corporate challenge run, Ong added it is essential human resources (HR) get support from senior leaders and the upper management in the organisation in order to effectively execute work-life balance programmes.

“HR will not be able to do it alone,” she said, adding that management buy in will ensure the proper “integration” of work-life balance initiatives within the organisation.

She also advised HR to look into providing more creative and innovative engagement plans, such as holiday subsidies as a remuneration, to better engage and retain staff.

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Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

June 22, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Small Talk: Getting fired for tweeting, falsifying resumes

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Singapore – Despite having more jobs flooding the labour market, some employees have decided that falsifying their resumes will increase their hiring chances while some were fired from tweeting about work.

A survey based on pre-employment background checks by global risk mitigation firm First Advantage found that many job candidates in India have been giving inconsistent information about their work experience this year.

Education, real estate, travel and hospitality industries have seen the most number of cases of dishonest job applicants. Entry level staff and junior managers tend to be the groups found guilty of falsifying their resumes.

Employees who own Twitter accounts are also at risk of losing their jobs. One worker in the US was asked to leave after tweeting on her company’s account that her colleagues knock off work early to play golf.

In this episode of Small Talk, Sabrina Zolkifi and staff writer Kylie Ng explore why employees are getting fired over social media updates.

In Singapore, there has been a rise in the number of jobs available as the local economy steadily returns to pre-recession figures. Local unemployment is now at a three-year low of 1.9%. The latest quarterly review by Ministry of Manpower also revealed that fewer workers were being laid off in the first quarter of this year.

Additionally, a separate survey by Manpower Singapore found hiring levels have gone up locally, with the country’s seasonally adjusted net employment outlook holding steady at +28%.

The demand for HR professionals has risen as a result of the increase in hiring activity locally. Robert Water’s Asia Job Index showed an 18% rise in job ads for HR specialists with technical or training and development skills.

Also, find out what HR can do to overcome the top three learning and development challenges organisations will face this year.

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Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

June 17, 2011 at 10:41 am

Posted in Uncategorized

HRTV: The top three L&D challenges in 2011

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Singapore – With the talent war still raging in Asia, companies are focusing efforts on developing and retaining talent, but some are struggling to overcome challenges within the learning and development area (L&D).

Additionally, organisations that do not have a chief learning officer (CLO) will find themselves lagging further behind as they wi lose out on developing employees to help align their talent to the business goals.

Mary Sue Rogers, general manager at IBM’s global human resources (HR) learning and recruitment division, said the function of a CLO is just as important as payroll or compensation and benefits.

She added having a senior executive focused on L&D opportunities for employees will ensure the budget set aside for staff training is properly maximised.

Yet CLOs in Asian companies will face three top L&D challenges this year. They are namely budget issues, adapting to generations X and Y, and ensuring that the ageing workforce transfers their knowledge before they retire.

Besides predicting the learning trends for 2011 in the exclusive interview with HRTV, Rogers said companies based in different markets will face new sets of challenges in developing talent. According to her, hiring and managing talent are tough in hyper-growth markets such as China and Vietnam due to high turnover rates.

“Companies from those markets have the challenge of onboarding and skill acquisition, and if that employee is still there in a year, start thinking about leadership development,” Rogers said.

On the other hand, companies in mature economies like Singapore and Australia have to overcome the challenge of structuring professional development programmes and incorporating blended learning into L&D initiatives.

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Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

June 15, 2011 at 11:43 am

Small Talk: Work-life balance high on global agenda

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Singapore – Local employees worry about achieving work-life balance, while workers in China fear overworking to death.

A new Nielsen Global Online Survey revealed 15% of Singaporeans are concerned about their work-life balance. This is slightly ahead of the Asia Pacific average of 12%. But Singaporeans are not the only ones fretting about work.

Employees in China are afraid of overworking to death after a staff member of PricewaterhouseCoopers died. Although her death was attributed to meningitis, blog posts prior to the tragic incident revealed her work pressure was beginning to affect her health.

Based on survey results by Beijing-based recruitment website, 45% of 5,000 Chinese employees claim they were suffering from work fatigue and high stress levels. Over 70% also said they were overworked, and 40% were prone to flaring up in the office.

Sabrina Zolkifi shares her thoughts on why providing employees with work-life balance is key, as well as why Johnson & Johnson is revamping their global compensation model. She also explores how annoying office quirks can be affecting your work relationships.

Additionally, Sabrina revisits this week’s video interview with Shelly Lazarus, chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide. Lazarus spoke to Marketing Magazine’s editor Deepa Balji and discusses how smart bosses use work-life balance as a retention strategy.

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Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

June 10, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Which is your chosen work personality?

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Find out how the demands of your chosen career have a major impact on shaping how you behave in a meeting. By Kathryn Ellis

With work taking over the majority of our waking hours, it is not surprising that the unique demands of a career can play a major role in shaping one’s behaviour in the workplace. These tendencies tend to be more obvious at meetings and other professional interactions as these sessions are such a crucial part of getting things done. Here are the top six distinctive personalities found in a meeting and the types of professions they are likely to match:

1.       If you are a project manager, an event planner, an advertising executive or a public relations consultant, you’re most likely… The Multitasker.

You are not only a whiz at juggling multiple clients, vendors and projects simultaneously, but also one who thrives on the adrenaline rush of racing from deadline to deadline. Hands up, all those guilty of scribbling notes during a conference call while responding to emails on your Blackberry.

While you may be blessed with the gift of being a consummate Multitasker, do exercise caution.  A major requirement in your line of work is the ability to listen to clients and draw out important information. To keep your multitasking tendency in check, make it a point to keep your computer and mobile phone out of sight and pay attention instead.

2.         If you are a businessman, investment banker, stock broker or property agent, you’re most likely… The Mobile Meeter.

As your job requires you to be constantly on the move to find the next business lead, you probably spend your work day travelling from customer meeting to sales presentation to industry seminar. As a professional who is always on the go, you are likely to be familiar with dialing in to conference calls and web meetings from a hotel room, a roadside café, a taxi or an airport lounge.

As a Mobile Meeter, it is critical that you always have on hand an up-to-date calendar of meetings with indication of time zones. Every considerate Mobile Meeter should also invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones to ensure the background noise in any location will not get in the way of a productive meeting.

3.         If you’re an artist, an inventor, an advertising creative or a talk show host, you’re most likely… The Disrupter

Your job is often an unstructured one which requires you to explore the full potential of your imagination and truly think out of the box. Does the mention of one thing tend to ignite 10 related ideas in your head? Do you find it impossible to hold back on sharing those ideas? If so, say hello to the Disrupter, for that is what you tend to become in a meeting.

While your ingenuity is a valuable trait, do make sure you are not derailing a meeting from its intended objectives. Wait until the most appropriate section in a meeting to share your thoughts. That way, you will not only be recognised as a creative genius but also an effective and considerate team player.

4.         If you’re an analyst, auctioneer, doctor, strategist or CEO, you’re most likely to be… The Maestro.

The unique demands of your career mean that you have the killer combination of a commanding presence, a razor-sharp mind and a results-focused approach. Your natural ability to look beyond complexity to get to the root of a problem means that you are probably The Maestro of meetings.

You are able to lead meetings towards concrete outcomes effortlessly, and inspire confidence and respect from others. However, despite the Maestro’s effectiveness at meetings, you have the tendency to get frustrated with personalities like The Disrupter or the Socialiser. Take care not to dampen their creativity by creating an appropriate time for them to speak and by considering their views seriously.

5.         If you’re an ambassador, a financial consultant, an insurance advisor or journalist, you’re most likely to be… The Socialiser

To reach the very top in your chosen career path, one needs to possess a charismatic personality, a vast network of contacts and the ability to draw critical information from these contacts.  Not only are you a master at networking, but you’re also capable of building trust with others very quickly. This is critical for getting that bit of political insight, signing another customer or achieving that exclusive headline.

Your likeability and skill at building rapport are likely to influence the way you behave during meetings too, making you The Socialiser. Even before the meeting begins, you are greeting each participant and chatting away with some of them like old friends. Your ability to put participants at ease, especially in a high-pressure environment, is highly valued.  While you usually create a positive impression, do exercise self-awareness so as to remain professional and avoid encroaching on personal boundaries.

6.         If you’re a digital strategist, technology analyst and communications professional, you’re likely to be… The Social Networker.

Find yourself itching to check Facebook during a meeting? Find yourself unconsciously tweeting about what an ugly tie the colleague sitting opposite you in the meeting is wearing? You’re probably the Social Networker.

As a social media pioneer whose work description includes Facebook-ing, Tweeting, blogging and Foursquar-ing so you can counsel clients about these platforms, you are probably connected 24/7.  You are also likely to feel the constant urge to update your networks about what you are doing, eating and seeing at all times of the day… even during meetings.

Take care not to get carried away, as not everything should be posted on a social network, especially if it concerns corporate matters. Don’t let your passion for the job land you in hot soup.

Kathryn Ellis is the communications manager for PGi in Asia Pacific. She is part of the team that drives PGi’s communications strategies throughout the region. More articles on engaging staff during meetings can be found here.

Written by Lee Xieli

June 9, 2011 at 9:00 am

HRTV: Ogilvy & Mather on providing work-life balance

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Singapore – If you’re a smart boss, you’ll understand why it is critical to help your employees achieve a work-life balance.

According to Shelly Lazarus, chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, smart bosses are those who are willing to listen to the needs of employees and providing a work arrangement suitable for their needs.

“We have to take people on their own terms or we don’t have them,” Lazarus said, adding that organisations that are not willing to adapt to the specific needs of employees will risk losing them.

Especially in light of the current war for talent raging, she said companies who refuse to accommodate the needs of employees by providing incentives such as flexible working hours, put themselves at a disadvantage.

She said companies have to assure women that they are willing to tailor their working arrangements to suit employees’ needs. Lazarus shared a story of a female employee who requested to work only three days a week after coming back from having a child.

On the topic of women employees, Lazarus added “anyone who would deprive himself of 50% of the talent pool is insane”. She said with female employees, the challenge lies in retention and not attraction, reemphasising the importance of providing an ideal work-life balance to keep top women talent.

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Small Talk: Marketer’s HR challenges [Special 20th episode]

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Singapore – To celebrate the 20th episode of Small Talk, Sabrina Zolkifi sat down with group editor for Marketing Magazine Matt Eaton and discussed trends in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Based in Hong Kong, Eaton shared insights on how some recruiters there conduct team poaching, where entire divisions are lured over by competitors. He added this is especially true in emerging sectors such social media, where there is a clear lack of senior talent.

“People who have talent may realise that there is a shortage in the market, realise their worth and are going after some pretty big bucks,” Eaton said.

However, on the other end of the spectrum, there are people who switch for very little money, as the Hong Kong economy returns to pre-crisis standards.

To combat the problem of disloyal employees, Eaton shared advertising firms in Hong Kong are using training initiatives to retain their top talent. Because the advertising industry has to keep up with technology and be “on top of a lot of these new things”, he said it  “makes sense for them to continually train their staff and bring them up to speed”.

Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

June 3, 2011 at 2:55 pm

The horse that nudged me into leadership

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When I got a call inviting me to breakfast at the Saddle Club and a media preview of the Equina Horse-Assisted Leadership Coaching, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t stoked out of my mind.

I love animals (my six visits to the zoo in the last year is testament to that) and the thought of spending the morning hanging out at the stables while still being able to get some work done seemed to be the ideal “killing two birds with one stone” situation.

Nancy introducing me to GG

However, what I wasn’t prepared for was the depth and eye-opening experience I was about to go through. Hosted by Nancy H. Verhoeven, founder of Vincere Coaching, she explained how herd and hunted animals such as horses can sense a person’s energy, and their reactions to humans can be very telling of the person’s personality and leadership style.

Walking up to the arena with GG the horse, I was rather sceptical. Nancy had explained one of the activities we would have to do was to try and make GG walk around the arena with us without touching her.

“How are we supposed to do that?” I thought. Was I supposed to tap into telepathic abilities I did not know I possessed?

I decided to sit out the first few rounds and observe the other reporters have their go at interacting with GG. As Nancy stood watching like a hawk, she began pointing out traits and personality styles of each reporter – and nailing them all on the head.

Commenting on how GG kept gently nudging and pushing one reported, Nancy said the horse was disrespecting the reporter’s personal space. “Is this something you find happening in your life as well?” Nancy asked the reporter, and to my surprise, he said he did find that sometimes, it was hard from him to assert his authority, and preferred to be a peer, rather than a leader.

After most of the other reporters had their time with GG, and were clearly just as surprised and overwhelmed at the accuracy of the comments Nancy was giving, I decided it was time to step up to the plate. As I approached the arena, Nancy said she was going to bring it up to the next level and have me do a more challenging activity.

Oh boy.

“I am going to make a circle and have you stand in the middle,” Nancy explained as she led GG towards the centre of the sandy arena. “What I need you to do is to try and get him to walk around you without coming into the circle, because that is what he wants to do.”

As she handed me the reins, I began gently tugging at it to make GG move forward. No such luck as he kept insisting on standing in my circle.

Trying to keep GG out

“No GG, stay out,” I said, wondering internally if horses even understood English. But GG was adamant we hang out together in the circle.

“Assert your authority,” Nancy said.

“GG, stay out,” I said in what I thought was my most commanding voice. But GG had other plans. Feeling slightly uncomfortable as I remembered everyone was watching, I was beginning to feel more disheartened by the second.

Sharing a personal moment with Nancy

Nancy picked up on that and pulled me aside, making an observation I wasn’t expecting to hear from someone I had just met over breakfast an hour ago. “You don’t get angry often, do you?”

“No, I don’t,” I told her honestly.

“Everyone has anger and I need you to find that from inside you and use that assertiveness to make GG stay out of the circle.”

I closed my eyes and tried to summon anger – or at least something close to it. After a few moments, I stepped back into the circle, and to my amazement, GG walked around me outside the circle, maintaining a comfortable distance between us.

That felt pretty darn awesome.

The sweet, sweet taste of success

A while later, over a quick debrief with the rest of the group, Nancy shared that she was once unable to do some of the activities as well, and found that her lack of authority was causing her to be over-accommodating to people. Hearing that hit a nerve for me, and I made a mental note to stop thinking about having super powers to communicate with different species, and work on communicating better with humans instead.

Looking at the other reporters who had gone through that brief assessment by both GG and Nancy, I knew they were taking more away from the experience than they had expected at the start of the session.

I like to think of this as GG giving me a hug

Who would have thought 15 minutes in the arena with a retired racehorse would allow us to learn a little bit about ourselves to better our working and personal relationships? I’m not saying everyone should rush out to find a horse and try to lead it around a circle, but if you do have the opportunity, I would suggest you have a go at it. You’ll never know what you can learn.

Those interested to find out more can head on over to

Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

June 3, 2011 at 12:32 pm