The Snitch

Just a little of everything HR

Archive for July 2011

Small Talk on racist staff and Gen Y’s expectations

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Singapore – Employees in Indian call centres have been told it was okay to hang up on “dumb” Australian clients while senior leaders in Singapore worry over their Gen Ys’ high expectations.

One trainer at the call centre even went so far to tell staff that Australians are racist towards Indians and did not begin attending college until recently. These demeaning stereotypes were brought to light after a journalist from news magazine Mother Jones underwent a three-week training course at the Delhi Call Centre last year.

This week, Small Talk discusses the irony of that story, as well as how employers can manage the expectations of their Generation Y (Gen Y) employees. According to Richard Lai, chief executive officer and managing director of logistics company Mapletree, younger staff want more money and opportunities but also a good work-life balance.

Lai said employees have to be more realistic in order to be happier at work. “At the end of the day, it is up to the individual to find their own level of contentment in their jobs.”

Also, find out more about how getting a team to cook together can help with bonding as HRTV heads down to The Sentosa Resort and Spa for a first-hand look at a new “Iron Chef” team building programme.

“It takes a break from the normal corporate retreats which usually involves teams being in seminars all day and talking business,” Ryan Sonson, the hotel’s executive chef, said.

Additionally, learn how companies are supporting older workers, along with their concern over rising wages as Singaporeans become increasingly pessimistic about their job opportunities.

HRTV: Engage employees through their senses

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Singapore – Learning programmes are getting increasingly creative, as companies strive to find interesting ways to engage staff while training them.

In an interview with HRTV, Gareth Poh, owner of The Training Company, said unique learning environments can help improve engagement levels in a class.

Poh said by providing a novel yet comfortable setting, participants would be more willing to take part in activities and “let their guard down”. That’s when the employee will be able to absorb the information presented best as the relaxing atmosphere allows them to be more receptive.

Likewise, his training facility has been decorated to look like the beach, complete with wallpaper designs, wooden lounge chairs and piped music. Poh also uses aromatherapy to create a holistic seaside experience for learners.

He shared that adding scents like lavender and oranges along with soothing ambience music to a training venue will trigger more senses which help participants retain their new knowledge better.

According to Poh, training programmes are becoming more interactive and many encourage employees to go on a journey of self-discovery and reflection.

Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

July 27, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Small Talk on lying employees and coffee addicts

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Singapore – Some employees are so determined to not go into the office that they would spend days faking symptoms to appear more credible when taking sick leave.

A new report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has found that two in five employees would fake symptoms before calling in sick. Worryingly, 5% even said they would resort to using things like crutches and make-up to be more believable.

The report suggested employers have to hone in on the underlying reasons behind why their staff are willing to go to such measures to miss work.

“Rather than a sign of laziness, unwarranted absence can mean people are under-used,” Neil Roden, human resources (HR) consulting partner at PwC, said. “Employers need to think creatively on how they can get people back in gear.”

Another top story that Small Talk is discussing this week is the top companies business graduates yearn to work for. According to a survey by Universum, Google earned the top spot for the fifth year running, with technology companies and consulting firms deemed most desirable employers as they can provide challenging work.

Russ Hagey, worldwide chief talent officer for Bain & Co, said young talent are concerned about “where they’re going to be challenged and excited”.

Additionally, Small Talk explores why Unilever’s HR boss says Asia’s supply of talent has to keep up with economic and business growth. John Nolan, its senior vice president of HR, suggests that companies have better chances of retaining their workforce if they hold a longer term view on investing in talent and coaching them.

Small Talk also reveals why coffee addicts are more harmful to a company’s productivity than smokers.

HRTV: Google and Sony on job satisfaction

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Singapore – Managers at Google are encouraged to help their staff achieve at least one non-work related goal in their life so every employee can foster better work-life balance.

Known as the “One Simple Thing” programme, Google employees are urged to focus on one personal target, such as an exercise regime or mastering a new language. Their managers then show their support through easy steps like keeping the employee’s schedules free or giving them time off for classes.

Sarah Robb, head of people operations for Google in Asia Pacific (APAC), said this helps staff feel that they can be equally successful in achieving both business objectives and personal goals.

Narihiko Uemura, managing director for Sony Electronics in Singapore and APAC, said it is important that companies engage their employees by listening to their needs.

Robb added when employees believe that the company is genuinely invested in their interests and makes them feel valued, attrition levels will fall.

The search giant also has a quarterly budget set aside for “fun” activities. “For us, it comes down to a culture of fun,” Robb said.

Other engagement initiatives Google has include activities such as after-work drinks on Fridays, and regular town hall meetings where senior leaders field questions from staff.

At Sony, employees would be asked to participate in regular surveys to help senior management determine job satisfaction levels and identify gaps within the organisation.

However, Uemura said companies should allow employees to write their own opinions or give honest feedback in the surveys if they genuinely want to improve their engagement processes.

Yet Uemura, who reads every single feedback form received, did once ask his staff to write about the “good things” in the company. “I need to read good things too so I will feel happy,” he joked.

Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

July 20, 2011 at 11:00 am

Small Talk: Pay rises, perfect leaders, wooing talent

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Singapore – While employees in Singapore and Malaysia can celebrate about their high pay rises this year, leaders are warned to avoid being perfectionists and Facebook shows us the best way to woo talent.

According to recruitment consultancy Robert Walters, four out of five Singaporeans saw a rise in their salaries this year. Some 40% received an increase of between 1% to 5% while a fifth took home an increment of between 6% and 10%.

Malaysians too have good reasons to rejoice. Based on data from the Kelly Employment Outlook and Salary Guide 2011/2012, those working in talent-deprived industries can look forward to a pay rise between 15% and 20%.

This means managers who strive to be perfectionists may be heading off in the wrong direction if they want to prevent good employees from joining their competitors.

Rich Wellins, senior vice president for DDI, says perfectionism is not a good thing because it could mean they are “micro-managers”. Worryingly, he said, “Singaporean leaders rocked the charts on that [trait].”

However, Wellins got one thing right when he said there are certain attributes that leadership programmes cannot fix. “Some leaders do not succeed because of their personality. There is no way to design a programme to take out arrogance.”

Or tactfulness, as a matter of fact, with one CEO in New Zealand recently fired for making sexist comments over national radio.

Alasdair Thompon, head of New Zealand’s Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) commented that female employees received less pay because menstruation and family issues hinder their productivity.

He said, “Who takes the most sick leave? Women do, in general. Why? Because once a month, they have sick problems.”

Thankfully, there are some CEOs who still manage to retain a certain element of charm, especially when hiring top talent.

Small Talk unveils how Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire brainchild behind Facebook, woos potential employees by inviting them on an intimate stroll with him. One lucky interviewee described Zuckerberg’s approach as being taken out for a date.

Written by Human Resources

July 15, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

HRTV: Best coaches on diverse cultures

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Singapore – Instead of using classroom training to help new leaders learn and manage intercultural differences across diverse offices, the best coaches are found within the company.

It is important that companies find the right coaches to help leaders on understanding cultural differences, according to Fons Trompenaars, one of the top 50 most influential management thinkers alive as identified by Thinker 50.

The good news is Trompenaars says the best coaches are already available within the company. They would be senior leaders who are familiar with the business scope, who understand the depth of cultures they have worked in, and had experience managing both intercultural and international teams. Pairing them up with new leaders will help the newbie learn far better than in a classroom setting.

However, the managing director of Trompenaars Hampden-Turner Intercultural Management Consulting says improving a manager’s intercultural people skills is similar to grasping a foreign language. Both require the learner to invest time and effort in to learn and practise the skills on a daily basis.

“You cannot learn a new language in half a day. For some, it takes a lifetime,” Trompenaars said. “[It is the] same with cultural differences.”

Trompenaars suggests using a “modular approach” to help leaders understand cultural differences when they are posted to a new country. Breaking up the learning process into bite-sized modules will give them opportunities to apply what they have learnt in their everyday life.

The module should also include a process that allows leaders to exchange feedback with their internal trainers and the local teams. Trompenaars says leaders can then create their own case studies and share that information with others when it’s their turn to coach on cultural diversity.

Small Talk: Leadership tips from most admired companies

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Singapore – Senior managers seemsto share two things in common – recognising the value of engagement and a common distrust of emails.

The annual list of the world’s most admired companies by FORTUNE magazine was announced this week, and leaders from those organisations shared their secrets in motivating and engaging staff.

“What we’re trying to foster at Google is a culture where you speak up if it’s not going the way you thought or if you think there’s a way to make it better,” Sarah Robb said. She is the head of people operations for general and administration at Google in Asia Pacific (APAC).

Narihiko Uemura, managing director for Sony Electronics in Singapore and APAC, added that bonding with employees over lunch or at out-of-office activities can help leaders understand their teams better.

Google and Sony Electronics practise seeking feedback from employees to ensure they are inspired and motivated to work by conducting engagement surveys and engaging them in regular dialogue.

However, while still on the topic on conversations, executives in the US are finding emails a waste of time.

According to the Jive Social Business Index 2011 conducted by research firm Penn Schoen Berland for Jive Software, two thirds of them believe that social networks will “fundamentally change the way people share, connect and learn at work”.

This week, Small Talk also explores why a British banker decided to ditch the corporate world and become a witch doctor instead. Additionally, find out why employees in the US are afraid to leave their jobs.

This is despite nearly half of them reporting they have been working for a bad boss, or managers who make their working environments tough.

Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

July 8, 2011 at 12:42 pm