The Snitch

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Archive for the ‘Retention’ Category

Love them or risk them leaving… In style.

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Over the past few months, I’ve sat comfortably at my desk and watched with bemusement as the world tripped over itself trying to find new ways to quit – and leave a mark.

Let’s face it – the economy isn’t really rocking right now, so to quit a job in certain industries takes courage as it is. But when you top that up with an open letter published in the New York Times, jumping off a plane or getting a marching band playing your resignation, then you’ve got a winner – and the attention of the world.

Greg Smith, a Goldman Sachs executive director, made headlines this week after publishing an opinion piece in The New York Times, declaring that after 12 years, he’s had it with Goldman Sachs’ “toxic” culture.

“To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money. Goldman Sachs is one of the world’s largest and most important investment banks and it is too integral to global finance to continue to act this way,” Smith wrote. “The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.”

The piece, which was published the same day Smith handed in his resignation, revealed intimate details of what Smith claims happens in the corridors of one of the world’s easily recognisable investment banking and securities firm.

“It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as ‘muppets,’ sometimes over internal e-mail,” Smith said.

But while Smith’s dramatic – and extremely public – exit got heads turning, a personal favourite of mine is Steven Slater’s resignation. (Granted, when I said he jumped out of a plane, it was already safely on the runaway and not 30,000 feet in the air. Now, that would be something.)

In 2010, Slater, a JetBlue flight attendant, was so fed-up with his job that when a female passenger refused to stop unloading her carry-on luggage from the overhead compartment because the passengers haven’t been given the green light to do so, the luggage falling on his head was the last straw.

The passenger refused to apologise and instead hurled a couple of vulgarities at Slater, causing him to react accordingly. He promptly got on the plane’s public address system and said, “To the passenger who just called me a m*****f***er, f*** you. I’ve been in this business 28 years, and I’ve had it.”

He then grabbed a couple of beers off the aisle (you know he means business), released the emergency exit slide and made his unforgettable departure from the plane – and his career.

And who can forget Joey DeFrancesco, a Marriott Renaissance hotel employee, who was done with the “horrendous” working conditions that he ambushed his boss, announced, “Jared, I’m here to tell you I’m quitting,” and walked out of the hotel as the marching band started to play triumphantly behind him.

Oh, and did I mention the whole thing was caught on video and promptly uploaded onto YouTube, garnering over 3 million views at last count?

I call him the pied piper of disgruntled employees.

Which leads me to the point of all this. Employees these days need you to care – fair and simple. There aren’t really two ways about it, especially in current business climate where a bit of TLC can do a lot more than an extra couple hundred dollars of pay.

Speaking at the first Ogilvy Do debates in Singapore last night, So-Young Kang, founder and CEO of global leadership development and experience design firm Awaken Group, said the one thing missing from the workplace today is love.

But while I won’t go so far as to agree with her and urge you to give your employees a hug right now (you can if you want to), I will say that a bit of recognition and a lot of listening to make sure they’re happy and fulfilled is critical.

Businesses these days cannot afford to be focused on just the bottom line. With employees often more than eager to jump ship at the next best opportunity (fellow Gen Y-ers, I’m looking at you – but I’m generalising), leaders need to step up and make sure they’re not just bosses, but colleagues.

Many have waxed lyrical at the near-magical effect of employee recognition, but as a captive audience of the HR world, I have to admit I’ve seen it do wonders. So go ahead, ask about your employee’s day, take an extra minute to listen to them and find out what drives them in the morning and keeps them awake at night, and who knows what that emotional investment might bring you in terms of business results.

It’s worth a shot, and it’s definitely easier to manage than a public embarrassment should they pull a resignation stunt.

Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

March 16, 2012 at 11:30 am

Small Talk on smartphone addiction and respecting employees

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Singapore – While smartphones are helping people stay connected 24/7, the mobile devices may actually be doing more harm than good when it comes to productivity.

A survey from the UK revealed that two-fifths of respondents admitted to using their mobile phones to text, email and take calls when in a face-to-face meeting. Employees who are constantly glued to their mobile devices are also more likely to be distracted by work, even during weekends or when on vacation.

While some may argue the dependency on smartphones helps them stay connected, the survey reported that 36% of employees found the distractions made it harder for them to complete work. Another 22% said they suffered from information overload and more than a fifth are unable to think creatively.

Small Talk this week also discusses why respecting your employees and peers can lead to higher retention rates. A new report by Regus showed 72% of Singaporeans believed a good working environment stemmed from managers showing respect to their employees.

But managers have to be aware of why certain staff will still choose to leave a job. The latest Kelly Global Workplace Index 2011 showed that Singaporeans listed career changes, evolving personal interests and better work-life balance as the top reasons to jump ship.

While on the topic of career progression, Small Talk reports how having good presentation skills can improve your chances of getting a promotion. Employees who show confidence when presenting are more likely to be “visible” to the top level management, said Hazriq Idrus, a corporate trainer with Firefly Horizon.

Additionally, Small Talk explores how an open office concept is actually distracting employees from their work and how more local companies are moving into the suburbs to cut cost.

With office rents skyrocketing in prime areas such as Tanjong Pagar and Raffles Place, more companies are heading towards locations such as One@Changi City, Changi Business Park and Mapletree Business City.

Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

August 12, 2011 at 12:40 pm

HRTV: Happy managers boost staff productivity

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Singapore – Organisations that can promote positivity in the workplace will find an increase in staff productivity levels, especially if every employee is moving towards the same objectives.

Aneta Tunariu, consultant and principal lecturer at the University of East London, sat down with HRTV at the recent Innerpositiveness Leadership Conference to discuss how productive working relationships involved optimistic leaders.

“Good working relationships stems from clarity of working towards a common goal,” Tunariu said.

However, the onus is on leaders to set a safe platform from which team members can engage each other and share their views about the project they are working on. Tunariu said, “It is more than just teamwork, it is also about having a forum of open discussion where the task at hand can be approached with curiosity and positivity.”

Tunariu said the key to increasing personal positivity at work was to address each employee’s basic needs such as the desire to belong, to be understood, and to have trust between their peers and managers.

According to Tunariu, when employees feel their personal needs are taken care of, they can interact with their colleagues better and focus on producing results for the company.

“The employee will then have more motivation to effortlessly maximise their skills and join in on [achieving] the common goal,” Tunariu said.

Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

August 3, 2011 at 10:52 am

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: 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

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

HRTV: How to spot toxic managers

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Singapore – Bad managers who manipulate and bully their teams will, not only corrupt an organisation’s culture, but also destroy workplace relationships, causing high employee turnover.

“Every employee under that bad manager will become ineffective and inefficient,” Terry Sheridan, managing director of executive consultant firm Guardian Angel, said. She explained the political and toxic nature of the organisation will cause productivity to suffer as employees will “spend more time watching their backs than actually doing their work”.

Sheridan said bad managers are a poison to the organisation as they bring down the morale of their colleagues and can cause many of them to resign. “People don’t leave just leave jobs, they leave bad managers,” Sheridan said.

According to Sheridan, bad managers fall into two categories – tyrant and mediocre. A tyrant, who believes he is superior to the rest of the organisation, tends to bully and overwork his employees. They would also use the organisation’s resources for their own needs, and a “master of office politics”.

While tyrants are easy to spot, Sheridan said mediocre managers are the harder to recognise as a problem in the company. “Mediocre managers are the tricky ones to find because they are the appeasers and the ingraciators.”

“They’ll use flattery to get what they want, and they’re very clever. They’ve been doing it for a very long time,” Sheridan said. She added these managers do the bare minimum at work, and “prefer to get on well with others than getting the job done”.

Sheridan added both types of managers are inconsistent with their work, and being aware of those inconsistencies can help HR identify leaders who should be dismissed.

Read the full article on our website.

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HRTV: Small Talk on sugar-coating employees’ stories

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Singapore – Human resources (HR) leaders must be careful not to embellish employees’ stories when using them for recruitment purposes.

According to Paul McGrory, head of regional resourcing at Royal Bank of Scotland in Asia, HR should only help employees reflect on their work to tell their own stories.

McGrory said HR can ask employees “questions which reflect on what they have done that is representative of the brand, culture and values of the company” as a start.

In this latest episode of Small Talk, Sabrina Zolkifi and Lee Xieli further discuss how public relations are one of the most stressful jobs in the market, and why more Chinese employees are looking to switch jobs.

They also shared what HR can do to facilitate more flexible working arrangements, and had a candid discussion on why the Asian culture of saving “face”, and the fear of line managers can be detrimental to job satisfaction.

Glenn Tan, executive director of motor vehicle distributor Tan Chong International, used to host “power breakfast” meetings to allow his staff to share their problems in a more casual setting. However, he has stopped hosting them as some managers had begun picking on employees they thought were ratting them out.

“After a while, people didn’t want to say anything at the meetings,” Tan said.

HRTV: Why HR shouldn’t sugarcoat employee stories

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Singapore – While having employees share their personal experiences in the company is a great way to enhance employer branding, human resources (HR) leaders have to beware of over-refining their stories.

Paul McGrory, regional head for resourcing at the Royal Bank of Scotland, said employee stories are the most “authentic” form of employer branding as they share the true spirit and culture of the organisation. However, companies must be careful not to script or sugar-coat the stories in hopes of projecting a better image to potential jobseekers.

“This is about real-life employees talking about their real-life experiences with the company,” McGrory said. “Don’t lead them and tell them what to say. It’s their story.”

Therefore, HR has a key role to play in helping staff articulate and promote their stories “internally and externally”.

McGrory said HR can help employees by asking them “questions which reflect on what they have done that is representative of the brand, culture and values of the company”.

To read the full article where McGrory shares what HR can do to when writing or taping a testimonial, click here:

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Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

April 20, 2011 at 1:26 pm