Through a focus on upskilling and mentorship, the firm saw a four-fold decrease in monthly staff attrition rate in 2021, Daniel Chew, General Manager, Metropolis Security Systems, shares.
As an industry on the frontline of keeping Singapore safe, the security sector has only grown in importance over the years. It has, however, often been stigmatised – an issue that was further accentuated during the COVID-19 pandemic, Daniel Chew (pictured above), General Manager, Metropolis Security Systems (Metropolis), shares. “The challenges and work scope changes affected our pool of reliable and committed security officers, resulting in high turnover with considerable additional effort required to train our new officers."
Thus, came the need for the company – and the industry - to evolve training and upskilling efforts in order to remain relevant, competitive, and have better knowledge transfer and retention, he elaborates. This prompted Metropolis to embark on a ‘Workplace Learning’ journey with the National Centre of Excellence for Workplace Learning (NACE) in September 2020, in order to improve its practices, address existing gaps, and promote learning at work.
The results? Low attrition rates and high customer satisfaction scores, as the Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment (TAFEP) learns in this interview with Daniel. Read on for more.
Nurturing a resilient workforce
As Daniel proudly points out, Metropolis’ vision and mission encapsulate its organisational goals and values – to drive a highly committed and motivated team of employees to deliver quality security services to clients. "Our management team truly believes that the most important quality to nurture in a resilient workforce is empathy. Creating a culture of empathy allows our management team to seek first to understand the wellbeing of our employees through a holistic range of employee engagement programmes to upskill and motivate them," he highlights.
Our engagement programmes are regularly reviewed to meet the employees’ needs especially during the global outbreak of COVID-19. This has led to improvements in employee productivity and organisational performance.
Taking a closer look at COVID-19's impact on the business, not only was high turnover an issue, but the introduction of safe distancing measures also posed additional challenges on the jobs of security officers. In mitigating these, Metropolis’ emphasis on continuous talent development and upskilling allowed the business to transform swiftly in four areas digitally:
- Digital repository/learning,
- Digital analytics,
- Digital marketing, and
- Digital technology such as the operations technological security solutions.
Along the same lines, the firm has made it a point to equip its employees with the latest technologies – for instance, its Visitor Management System with Licence Plate Recognition. It allows for quicker registration of visitors’ information, while also reducing processing time, storing identification information securely, and tracking visitors’ time spent.
"The licence plate recognition system provides an additional layer of security and enables our employees to monitor and perform surveillance of the vehicles with ease. With a suite of video analytics to detect anomalies, our employees are better equipped to spot intruders, unattended baggage, early signs of smoking, illegal parking of vehicles, illegal dumping, and more," Daniel adds.
Investing in professional development
To be equipped with the relevant skills to tackle these advancements, employees took part in various professional development programmes.
One significant milestone was the formation of the Metropolis Training Academy in 2020, which ensures that the firm's officers are continuously keeping themselves updated with the necessary skills and knowledge to do their jobs well and meet clients’ needs, amidst the constantly changing challenges in the industry.
Apart from that, Metropolis has, over the years, found mentorship to be a key contributor to its employees’ growth. Its in-house coaching and mentoring programme comprises two mentoring models:
- Group mentoring, which enables heads of departments (HODs) to be better able to coach their staff who encounter various operational issues on the ground. These HODs are also involved in weekly leadership sharing sessions.
- Peer mentorship, through which employees are encouraged to learn from each other.
These efforts have not been in vain. For one, productivity levels have increased. Daniel tells us: "We have seen higher customer retention, with zero attrition for existing projects in residential and commercial areas, schools, shopping malls, protected places, public-listed companies, gaming industries, and more in the first half of 2021.
At the same time, attrition levels have decreased.
We also observed a four-fold decrease in monthly staff attrition rate in 2021 (January to June) compared to 2020 (June to December).
The volume of compliments has also increased, "with a 70% increase in the first half of 2021 compared to the second half of 2020.”
Daniel adds: "It was also fulfilling to have received awards that recognise our efforts in progressive workplace practices – the Silver Award for Coaching and Mentoring at the Singapore HR Awards 2021, HR Award by Singapore Human Resources Institute, and the Learning Enterprise Alliance Award.
"I’m proud to add that we are the first SME to have received a National Workplace Learning Certification, in recognition of our efforts in our workforce’s continuous learning and skills development in 2022."
How leaders can inculcate a culture of learning
As is often affirmed, instilling a mindset or culture of continuous learning begins at the top – and this is no different at Metropolis, as Daniel shares. "Our leaders must walk the talk to show conviction and commitment that having a lifelong learning work culture is critical to continued success."
It is also important that leaders act as positive role models for continuous learning and motivate employees to learn, he stresses. For example, Metropolis’ senior management team members have taken up professional development courses, as well as regularly attend training with their colleagues.
Beyond setting an example, we also focus on building a culture of empathy. On top of enhancing communication across the organisation, such an environment helps us build a good foundation for a coaching mindset across supervisors and management staff.
Keeping the above learnings in mind, Daniel concludes the interview with these words of advice for leaders who may be unsure about committing time and resources to their talents: "At Metropolis, we believe in focusing on three business objectives and priorities - people, performance, and process. Of the three, our people are our greatest asset."
He adds: "It is of paramount importance for organisations to be committed to retaining best practices and build competencies through a lifelong learning workplace culture.
"By doing so, it strengthens an organisation’s workforce, giving the organisation skilled, reliable, and committed manpower to meet different business needs. This will ensure businesses remain competitively relevant and sustainable in this ever-changing environment, especially in a post-COVID situation."
Metropolis is an exemplary employer under the Human Capital Partnership (HCP) Programme - a tripartite initiative that brings together a community of exemplary employers in Singapore who have progressive employment practices in their organisations and are committed to developing their human capital. Visit tafep.sg to find out more about the HCP Programme.
Photo / Provided (Featuring interviewee Daniel Chew)
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