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Small Talk on marrying marketing with HR

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Singapore – As the HR function within organisations continues evolving into a more strategic role, HR practitioners are beginning to see the benefits of incorporating marketing techniques.

Matt Eaton, group editor of Marketing Magazine, co-hosts this episode of Small Talk and discusses with Sabrina Zolkifi how HR can use marketing techniques to improve their processes. Some areas HR can add a marketing focus on include recruitment, policies and development programmes.

Small Talk also highlights a study from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and research firm Penn Schoen Berland that revealed bosses in the US admit to playing favourites in the office. Business leaders were found to base their decision on who to promote on “factors unrelated to a person’s abilities, such as background, ideology or gut instincts”.

Lamar Reinsch, a management professor at McDonough, said favouritism can cause stress and affect productivity and relationships within the company. “They’re now playing office politics instead of focusing on organisational objectives.”

On the topic of leadership and meritocracy, another top story discussed in this episode is on how most managers in Asia are “tall and skinny”. According to business school INSEAD, talent in Asia rise through the ranks quickly, but lack proper managerial skills.

Guy Saunders, director of open enrolment programmes for executive education at INSEAD, said employees identified as top potential leaders must be given adequate leadership development programmes. Without sufficient support from the organisation, new managers will face challenges in aligning their functional expertise with leading a team.

“From being an expert [with technical skills], you now have to manage or help other people to become experts,” Saunders says.

Small Talk also talks about the mass fainting incidents at retail chain Hennes & Mauritz’s (H&M) Cambodia factory and why employees in Italy refused to work after claiming their workplace is haunted.

Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

September 9, 2011 at 2:45 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

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: 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

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.

HRTV: The top three L&D challenges in 2011

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Singapore – With the talent war still raging in Asia, companies are focusing efforts on developing and retaining talent, but some are struggling to overcome challenges within the learning and development area (L&D).

Additionally, organisations that do not have a chief learning officer (CLO) will find themselves lagging further behind as they wi lose out on developing employees to help align their talent to the business goals.

Mary Sue Rogers, general manager at IBM’s global human resources (HR) learning and recruitment division, said the function of a CLO is just as important as payroll or compensation and benefits.

She added having a senior executive focused on L&D opportunities for employees will ensure the budget set aside for staff training is properly maximised.

Yet CLOs in Asian companies will face three top L&D challenges this year. They are namely budget issues, adapting to generations X and Y, and ensuring that the ageing workforce transfers their knowledge before they retire.

Besides predicting the learning trends for 2011 in the exclusive interview with HRTV, Rogers said companies based in different markets will face new sets of challenges in developing talent. According to her, hiring and managing talent are tough in hyper-growth markets such as China and Vietnam due to high turnover rates.

“Companies from those markets have the challenge of onboarding and skill acquisition, and if that employee is still there in a year, start thinking about leadership development,” Rogers said.

On the other hand, companies in mature economies like Singapore and Australia have to overcome the challenge of structuring professional development programmes and incorporating blended learning into L&D initiatives.


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Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

June 15, 2011 at 11:43 am

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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HRTV: Reaching out regionally

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Singapore – As more companies choose to set up their regional headquarters in Singapore, managers have to keep communication flowing smoothly between employees based in different offices.

Andrew Tay, president for Zebra Technologies in Asia Pacific, advised managers with regional responsibilities to make a constant effort to connect with their team members who are based in different locations. He said this can be done through weekly calls and emails.

Tay said staying in touch regularly will help leaders understand what’s happening in a particular office despite not being there physically. Tay added that managers have to be aware of the different work practices and cultures in different countries, and tailor their leadership style to address the local needs and growth opportunities.

But communication aside, companies have to first find the right talent on top of creating “a proper vision and business strategy for the organisation”. Tay said, “You can have the best plan in the whole world, but if you don’t have the best people to execute it, it will just remain as a plan.”


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Written by Sabrina Zolkifi

June 1, 2011 at 9:03 am