The Snitch

Just a little of everything HR

Archive for June 2012

The Office Snitch: I can’t wait to be boss

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A new report has emerged to add more proof that being the boss is one sweet gig.

Not only are they paid more and can, you know, boss people around, it turns out they get more vacation time as well.

The report released by found 81% bosses have no problem at all pencilling in a vacation, compared to 65% of full time employees. Gee whiz.

Now, I’m not saying bosses are skiving off work to play golf by the beach but it does make me wonder how they can get so much time off when they’re supposedly running a company.

I did a bit of digging and I think I’ve figured out their million dollar (or however much it costs to play golf by the beach) secret.

Two words: time management.

Every single business leader or CEO I’ve spoken to has a pretty solid plan down when it comes to managing their time. After all, as they say, time is money.

Png Kim Meng, MD of Dimension Data Singapore, said in an interview in May that setting priorities is key to better time management. “When there is too much on your plate, people tend to lose focus on the tasks at hand, so it’s good to have your priorities right from the start,” he said.

On the other hand, Scott Price, CEO of Walmart Asia, said in an older interview that he makes a conscious effort to clear out his inbox every time he hits 100 unread emails. “I find staying on top of things is a very important part of time management,” Price added.

Personally, I am a mega fan of to-do lists. I try and get the next day’s to-do list sorted before I leave the office or first thing in the morning. One thing I’ve learnt the hard way is to not list EVERYTHING you need to do, but just what’s important that day. Everything else falls under my “kinda gotta do” list, which I attack after 5.30pm.

So excuse me while I tidy up today’s list before we shoot off for the weekend, and slowly but surely work my way towards better time management and a mojito by the beach in a few years.

Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

June 29, 2012 at 10:45 am

Posted in Uncategorized

The Office Snitch: Show me the money!

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So here’s the deal: If you’re going to promote me, I expect a little bump or two in my pay.

Unfortunately though, it seems not everyone agrees with my point of view. In fact, we ran an article last week about how HR managers in Singapore are the third most likely in the world to promote with pay increment.

My simple question to them is why?

I mean, come on, let’s face it. I, like many others, love my job and the non-monetary benefits I get. Flexible working hours? Check. Ability to work from home? Check. Cool invites to media parties? Check.

That being said, it’s nice to be recognised and rewarded for all the work invested into any job. Above that, being promoted means bigger responsibility. Where I come from, that just means a bit more remuneration for what you do.

However, 68% of HR managers responding to a survey by Robert Half said they don’t give pay rises with promotions, with more than half offering a performance bonus instead.

“Employees like a challenge, but there are risks for companies offering a promotion without a pay rise. While pay is not the only factor employees consider, if companies do not provide adequate compensation either through pay or other benefits, then they may lose their top performers to the competition,” Stella Tang, director of Robert Half Singapore, said.

Well, at least someone’s with me on this one.

“I think it’s only right for employees to be given a salary boost when they are promoted because it’s a show of recognition on the employer’s part that the work they’ve done so far is valued,” Sarah Lee, a first year lawyer who declined to reveal her firm’s name, said. “Plus, people will be more motivated to continue their good work if they know they will constantly and consistently be rewarded.”

Tang also said while certain benefits such as flexible working hours may have more value to some employees, it is important for both bosses and staff to find that balance.

I reckon it comes back down to understanding your employees, their needs and what drives them, and then tailoring a package that fits them. I know it may sound like a ton of work, but in today’s competitive job market, where a $500 pay increment offer from a competitor could mean you saying bye-bye to your superstar, it is definitely something worth keeping in mind.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts, so leave a message and I’ll get right back to you. Have a super weekend!

Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

June 22, 2012 at 9:45 am

Time to get your hands dirty

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When I received an email about this week’s latest Bizarre HR, I was in the middle of a conference and had to muster up a bit of self-will to not giggle out loud.

While my initial reaction was to laugh, I suppose a translation problem such as this could do some serious damage to a company’s reputation and brand (which ironically was the discussion topic of the conference I was at).

I know I’m going to sound like a broken record, but as businesses get increasingly global, cultural sensitivity becomes all the more crucial – and IKEA’s story reminds us of this, albeit in a bit of a tongue-in-cheek manner.

Cultural sensitivity doesn’t have to be as intimidating as it sounds. Let’s bring it in to a local context: a predominantly Chinese company employs a foreign talent from Malaysia. There will be issues of different working cultures, language and even religion to consider and manage. And that’s really just the start of it.

I met a new friend recently, Marc. Now Marc, whose degree is in engineering, decided in his final year to intern on a factory line instead of taking an office job. Marc, who is French and grew up in Paris, and had, at that point, only been in Singapore for about three years, then flew all the way to Guangdong, China to work on the production floor of a small factory. His colleagues were mostly Chinese ladies who had little grasp of the English language, but he wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.

“Yes, I could have gotten a white-collar job but when else will I be able to experience something like that?” he reasoned.

Marc’s foray into the blue-collar working was an uncomplicated step that allowed him valuable insights into the grassroots working experience. It gave him a new level of cultural understanding he may have otherwise missed had he been sitting in a fancy swirly chair behind a desk in an office barely overlooking the factory line.

Besides, isn’t that also the concept behind that TV show my parents are addicted to, Undercover Boss? (Fine, fine, I’ll admit I love it too.)

I know not every leader has the luxury of working shoulder-to-shoulder with those under them, but any effort invested into understanding the everyday concerns and experiences of their staff could alleviate cultural misunderstandings and ensure amazing employee satisfaction and productivity.

So start with something simple. Let senior managers and junior staff alike job rotation opportunities. Spend a lunch or after work drinks with the new recruit from Thailand or Germany. Read up on a foreign sport the new guy in accounting was talking about the other day (Have you guys heard of Gaelic football? Genius idea!)

Like I said, managing and understanding cultural sensitivity isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. Besides today’s a Friday. When better to plan a long, casual lunch, or a beer after work? Bottoms up!

Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

June 8, 2012 at 9:34 am

Posted in Leadership