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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.


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: Kellogg humanises HR shared services

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Singapore – ­When Kellogg Company rolled out a shared services model for its human resources (HR) function, its main concern was ensuing employees could still feel a human connection with the organisation.

“The big challenge was getting people to accept the idea that they may not have that tap on the shoulder anymore,” John Gigerich, senior director of application solutions at Kellogg, said.

The new HR shared services model meant that employees no longer have to approach a business leader or the HR department to obtain or clarify information about their work.

“Before, if the [HR] generalist was out for two weeks, employees will have to wait two weeks for a response,” Gigerich said.

Gigerich explained an effective shared services model is about “getting questions answered quickly or escalating that to someone who can answer it faster”.

Since implementing this centralised structure in 2008, the cereal company has witnessed an 18% return on investment in the first year. Currently, 65% of staff queries are answered within the first call, and 75% of requests are replied within the day.

Another advantage of using a shared services model is that as companies continue to expand, it becomes challenging to have functional experts “spread around the locations while maintaining consistency”.

Gigerich said having information that is easily shared and accessed at one location narrows the gap between employees based in different countries and offices. Business leaders are also better equipped at making faster and more informed decisions because they have “data at their fingertips”.

As the shared service model only completed its final implementation for the US, Canadian and Latin American operations this year, Gigerich said Kellogg has no plans to roll the programme out to Asia just yet.

Gigerich sits down with HRTV to talk about other pros and cons of an HR shared services model, and how it can further support HR. To watch the full interview below.




Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

September 14, 2011 at 2:36 pm

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

Review of HR-friendly iPhone/iPad apps

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Mobile technology has made information available faster and more conveniently. These days, you no longer have to spend hours reading the tiny print of job classifieds in order to secure a job interview. Several recruitment firms have set up mobile apps which make searching for a job a breeze.

Aside from job postings, many of the current apps also feature tips and advice for both jobseekers and employers. Barclays Capital has even come up with a simulated interview game that human resources (HR) professionals in the finance sector can use to better prepare and ask relevant questions.

Under no pressure from my editor, I decided to finally use my iPad for something work-related, and downloaded a few of the HR-friendly apps available in the market. I’ve listed out the pros and cons of each, and awarded them points, with five points being the best.

Here they are, listed in ascending order of preference.

Robert Walters salary checker


  • Tailored to the Singapore market
  • Information from 21 countries available
  • Includes nine disciplines, such as accounting and finance, IT, secretarial and support, and legal
  • Caters to executives and professionals with a minimum of three years of job experience
  • User can receive updates, and international contact information is readily available
  • Employers have the opportunity to feature job vacancies
  • User can share information on Facebook and Twitter


  • Job functions under each discipline could be broader. For example, there should be more sub-divisions under the HR, engineering and IT categories, such as recruitment, IT engineering, and software design.
  • While some of the other apps reviewed allowed users to make calls to the company, RW’s app only featured double tapping on the email address to the compose an email.


A potentially useful app for HR professionals, but it has to be a little bit more in depth in terms of sectors and discipline. It might also be useful if the “contact via email” function leads straight to an email service provider for faster access. 3/5

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Barclay’s Interview Skills


  • Provides tips and sample questions for recruitment professionals
  • Useful for both jobseekers and employers
  • Provides a simulated job interview with three candidates, along with video advice from real Barclays Capital employees
  • Videos are also downloadable


  • Only relevant to finance sector professionals


The simulated interview process is very useful and easy to navigate. Users get to rank each job candidate, and a Barclays employee will share his take at the end of each question. However, aside from the tips, this app is only relevant to those in the finance industry. 3.5/5

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  • Clean user interface
  • Information from 11 countries are available, including Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia
  • 25 jobs sectors available, including media & advertising, health & fitness, medical services
  • User can search by position or company, and the results sorted out by date
  • Job details are extensive, and user can easily download and save the information
  • There is a quick apply button for the job vacancies, with cover letter and resume options for users
  • Users can access their JobsDb account quickly through the app


  • User can only share information via email
  • Resume and cover letters have to be saved prior on the JobsDB website


Overall, a straight-forward job search app I would recommend. Excellent for those on-the-go, and for those trying to discreetly look for a new job while at the office! It could be better if users could share information through social media networks as well. 3.5/5

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Towers Watson


  • Information from more than 55 countries are available
  • Beautiful and interactive user interface
  • Provides information such as budgeted pay increase and talent mobility
  • Information is divided by country
  • Able to take screenshots of information and send it as a mail attachment directly from the app
  • Quick link back to Towers Watson’s website for more information


  • Detailed information isn’t available for all countries


While the app was nice to look at and relatively easy to use, exhaustive information was not readily available to the use. However, the app made it easy to be redirected to the website for more details. 3.5/5

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  • Quick refresh button for “latest jobs” is very useful
  • Pleasing user interface
  • Users are able to share job listings on Facebook and Twitter
  • Job details and information are extensive
  • Easy for users to apply for jobs
  • Useful snippets of articles such as “Choosing your right recruitment partner” and “How well are you paid?” are provided
  • Videos are viewable directly on the app
  • Articles providing advice for graduates and job seekers are available
  • User is able to call Adecco offices through the app (provided you’re on an iPhone)
  • User is able to receive “push notifications” for preferred job functions


  • Some of the articles, while still relevant, were old
  • Only two to three new jobs are posted daily


Extremely user-friendly, with a lot of useful information available right at your fingertips. The articles posted were also interesting, but the app could really have more job postings on a daily basis. 4/5

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Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

April 4, 2011 at 12:53 pm

HRTV: Small Talk on how social media affects your job

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Singapore – Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have become extensions of our real lives, so it’s no surprises than that they could affect people’s work decisions as well.

According to the quarterly Randstad Workmonitor, nearly 60% of 405 local respondents use social media to research on a potential employer. Another 60% also added they would not consider working for a company if there have been negative comments made about them on social media.

Lee Xieli and Sabrina Zolkifi discuss the influence social media has on today’s employees, as well as why letting employees go can turn out to be a good thing for some organisations.

They also talk about the possibility of bringing pets to work, and what human resources can do to help welcome more workers with disabilities into the workplace.

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