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HRTV: EB Live Asia 2012

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Singapore – HRTV is back for its first episode this year. Catch up with HR leaders from Marriott International, Facebook, Starbucks and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) at Human Resources’ recent Employee Benefits Live Asia 2012 conference.

Sabrina Zolkifi speaks to Marriott International’s CHRO Jim Pilarski as he shared trends he is witnessing in the hospitality industry. Madan Nagaldinne, head of HR for Facebook in APAC and Paul Lam, head of partner resources for Starbucks in APAC, also discussed how technology, communication and Gen Y management all come together to create a more dynamic and productive workforce.

Low Peck Kem, divisional director of national human resources at MOM, talked about the labour challenges Singapore can expect in the coming months.

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Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

August 15, 2012 at 11:50 am

It’s 6pm? I’m barely getting started

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We’ve all had bosses who would drop the sarcastic “Thanks for dropping by!” when we leave the office at 6pm on the dot.

In the wake of the financial crisis, where layoffs mean more work per employee, people are getting better at doing the jobs of more than one person. But while being able to multi-task well is one thing, managing work-life balance is another.

Unfortunately, a lot of people I speak to still work in an environment where if you’re not at your desk putting in those extra hours, it’s equal to you being an unproductive staff member.

Of course, this isn’t a belief I subscribe to and, thankfully, that mindset is starting to shift; I think a lot of it starts with the big guys at the top. When I popped by PR agency Waggener Edstrom a few weeks back for a catch up, Matt Lackie, the firm’s Singapore general manager, said he actively tries to herd his staff out of the office at six.

“I have two kids. I come in early but I have to leave by six, six-thirty. On my way out the door, I’m always telling people to get moving and wrap it up, because it’s important,” he said.

“We know that if people have a life outside of work, the time they spend in the office will be more productive and they’ll be much happier.”

I was discussing work-life balance with Bruce, an operations executive in Hong Kong, when it suddenly occurred to him he works 14 hours a day on average.

“That’s crazy,” I said, to which he nonchalantly replied, “But it’s normal.”

In doing research for this post, I came across a pretty dated article on the Harvard Business Review blog by Ron Ashkenasm, a managing partner of Schaffer Consulting. He wrote the more people extend their normal working hours, the more going home at the usual knock off time seems like under-working.

With technology, it’s become easier to work anywhere and anytime. I’ll confess that if an email comes in from a client in the States at 9pm at night, it takes a bit of willpower to say, “You know what? That can wait until morning”. I’ve been able to respond to emails and even edit articles during commutes, waiting in line for coffee, and while sitting in  the foyer watching birds with my fat cat.

My friend Pam, who works in communications, agreed that my cat is fat and that it can be hard to separate work from life some times.

“I find myself doing a lot of research on weekends or when I am on the bus, thinking up news headlines and constantly conjuring pitch ideas in the middle of a social conversation,” she said.

But this flexibility may be a double-edged sword because being able to work anytime can mean working all the time.

Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg turned heads earlier this month when she said she leaves the office at 5.30pm everyday. One of the most powerful people in one of the world’s biggest tech set-ups works 9 to 5? Blasphemy, you would say!

Not quite.

However, in reading her interview with Mashable, I found one of her statements slightly discomforting.

“I walk out of this office every day at 5:30 so I’m home for dinner with my kids at 6:00, and interestingly, I’ve been doing that since I had kids,” Sandberg said in the interview.

“I did that when I was at Google, I did that here, and I would say it’s not until the last year, two years that I’m brave enough to talk about it publicly. Now I certainly wouldn’t lie, but I wasn’t running around giving speeches on it.”

Just the fact that it’s taken her this long to come out and admit to having a work-life balance is upsetting. Some time in the last few years, many corporate ladder-climbing, paper chasing, eager beaver employees have tricked themselves – and probably us in the process – that late hours and little sleep have become badges of honour.

Well, I say it’s time that ends. Structure a realistic to-do list, manage your time, prioritise your responsibilities, delegate, and learn to say, “No, not now”. These are just but a few of the simple things you can do to make sure you’re out that door and on your way out to a healthy social and family life at 6pm.

This weekend, I’m happy to say I’ll be switching off my work PC, and deactivating work emails on my phone. And come next Monday, let’s try and manage work and life a bit better so we can get more out of both worlds. I’m not saying it’s something that will happen overnight, but put in enough effort and the pay offs will be worth it, trust me.

Like Lily Tomlin says, “For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.”

Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

April 20, 2012 at 11:10 am

When Facebook isn’t your friend

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So, you’ve just scored the job interview of your dreams (or at least something close) and you’ve done your research on the company. Right about now, I’d bet you’re feeling pretty confident and prepared for any curveballs they may throw your way.

And then your interviewer asks: “Can you please log into Facebook right now so we can have a look around?”

This week, we ran a Bizarre HR about just that – companies that ask for Facebook logins to access potential employee’s profiles to gain a more, let’s call it “holistic”, understanding of the candidate.

I don’t know about you, but that’s sort of a deal breaker for me. Sure, there are a couple of things on Facebook I wouldn’t want my colleagues to find out about, but there has to be some kind of moral law (or actual law) against this. Right?

If you’ve been following The Snitch for a while now, you’d remember my attempt at staying off Facebook (obviously I went crawling back) so trust me when I say I understand the cheap thrill in venting about the co-worker who wouldn’t stop singing National Day songs in March, or how painful my last work trip was thanks to obnoxious cab drivers and inconsistent meeting times.

However, in the corporate world, a little discretion can never hurt. In the upcoming April magazine, editor Rebecca Lewis writes about the potentially disastrous effects a pissed off employee can have when they go on an online rampage.

Think about it. Here is someone with potentially sensitive information who believes they have been disengaged/insulted/mistreated (delete where appropriate) and has decided the best way to cool off is to broadcast their woes online.

Even something as simple as “Can’t people tell I’ve only got two hands?!” (I’ll admit I’ve tweeted that) can give the wrong impression. And this is if your profile is public.

Is anything even sacred anymore?

I’ve spoken to a couple of HR heads, and while most are against banning social media at work (“They’ll access it on their phones anyway,” one lamented), they do recognise the need to manage it.

With technology progressing faster than you can say Zuckerberg, and Gen Y’s who practically come out of the womb with an iPhone, there is no escaping the fact that social media is part of life.

While I am not a fan of potential bosses requesting access to my personal Facebook or Twitter pages (it would be timely to note I hardly ever accept friend or follower requests from colleagues), I do think HR has to determine how they intend to manage social media and its impact.

Let me know what you think and how your company manages social media both inside and outside the office.

PS: I just realised the irony of this post, considering I am the office snitch after all. C’est la vie!

HRTV: Staying effective with social media

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Singapore – HR leaders can utilise technology and social media networks as an internal collaboration tool to become even more effective in their jobs.

Ram Menon, executive vice president for worldwide marketing at TIBCO, said that HR professionals would typically use social media to communicate with third parties such as potential job candidates, vendors and recruiters.

However, Menon suggested that a savvy HR practitioner can use social media to improve internal communications, as well as increase collaboration between different departments. He added that having an effective social media strategy can help connect diverse business divisions in a global company, especially if they are located around the world.

“HR is the primary lifeline through which an organisation communicates its vision, the way in which they hire and retain employees, or career development opportunities,” Menon said.

If adopted properly, social media can streamline the information sent out to different stakeholders without spamming everyone. “Technology eases the flow of communication and filters outs what is irrelevant to you.”

For example, Menon said a healthcare package for eye insurance can be programmed to be disseminated through social media groups to those with eye problems within the organisation. This helps employees manage the information they receive regularly and ensures important data is not lost in the mix.

To find out more about how technology can improve the HR landscape, click here:

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Written by Human Resources

August 31, 2011 at 10:31 am