Goh Siew Yem, director for human resources, People's Association of Singapore
We believe in the grooming and development of our staff from the start of their careers and as such, we've implemented several innovative team-building activities through experiential learning such as bouldering wall, mazes and record-breaking challenges. Following these activities, overnight discussions are held for the teams to present key recommendations on improving work processes to the management.
Participants respond well to this form of experiential training where they are fully engaged throughout the session. There is certainly more ownership in the learning process on the part of the participants as compared to conventional modes of delivery such as a lecture. As employees are fully involved in the learning process through their participation, they also tend to retain a lot more of what they have learnt.
Besides engaging external trainers for these sessions, we also get the existing staff (what we call seniors or peer training) to share knowledge and expertise with the newer and younger officers. This is especially effective for grassroots work where there are no textbooks on what we do. Peer training also serves to encourage leaders in the group to lead by example.
Yeo Chet Tern, vice president of human resources and administration, Canon Singapore
One of the programmes that all of our employees undergo is the induction programme. New employees are introduced to our regulations, the different departments and how they work together. An innovative method that we have come up with to facilitate this process is a mini treasure hunt where participants form a few small groups to solve some riddles. The answers may be related to information about the company's departments, products, personnel as well as anything under ‘the Canon sun'. We believe it's a great programme because participants have to work together to find the answers, and in this manner, are able to learn and retain the knowledge longer.
In my experience, training conducted for working adults should differ from classroom-style methods. More focus should be on experiential learning where role plays are involved. This beats having only theoretical lessons.
Other innovative methods of training include programmes that help participants improve their planning, organisational, and supervision skills. We also conduct training to build confidence and trust between colleagues. Most people are familiar with the ‘free fall' exercise. This is where a member of the team has to overcome the fear of height as well as trust that his or her team member will catch him or her when he or she falls back. It is through active participation that those undergoing the training can understand and remember the training's themes and messages.
Smita Mishra, regional director for human resources, Equant
I believe in on-the-job training. You don't have to restrict yourself to regular, theoretical training methods. At Equant, we employ a "buddy system" where a newcomer is attached to an existing employee for initiation and skills improvement. Monthly feedback sessions are held, and a manager will decide which aspects of the employee require further training or if he or she needs to extend the mentoring period.
We have also implemented a programme called Skills Training Empowering People (STEP), which is available on our intranet. Employers are strongly encouraged by their respective managers to go through skills tests available on STEP. Not only can they ascertain the level of current skills, but can choose a position within the company they aspire to be in and learn about the associative skills required for that position. Employees can then go through online training and development or other forms of training to bridge the skills gap. The employee will also receive ongoing feedback to ensure that his or her skills and knowledge are continuously upgraded.
Peggy Koh, human resources business partner, Merck Sharpe & Dohme
Our New Hire Orientation programme is a must for every new employee. Previously, the HR department organised one-to-one induction sessions where a new hire was attached with a senior employee, but this was time-consuming especially when there was more than one new hire. Currently, the orientation programme is computer-based and available on our intranet. We developed our own software which introduces the employee to our company culture as well as provide other information such as our finance policies and emergency evacuation procedures. This training process is faster, easily accessible and more convenient.
However, we still believe in the effectiveness of conventional learning methods such as classroom-based training. New employees are given formal training sessions lasting three to four weeks where there are written tests and exams to be completed. Training is all very theory-based because most of our practical training is conducted on the job. For example, our sales employees will have to undergo three weeks of structured product training before they formally take on the role. The sales person has to have complete knowledge of the products before he or she is able to convince others to buy them. That said, training and development cannot be spoken in isolation as they form an integrated part of our performance and learning and development process.