How 3 leaders are embracing progressive talent development practices
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How 3 leaders are embracing progressive talent development practices

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A virtual amazing race, capability transfer programmes, and even complimentary attraction tours: MatchMove, Rohde & Schwarz, and Merlin Entertainments share how they are committing to developing engaged and well-performing workforces.

For some organisations, being progressive means a deeper focus on employees’ wellbeing, for others, it is a greater emphasis on career development. We find out exactly what it means to three Singapore employers, in interviews led by Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP).

Case study: Matching and moving talent into the right roles with the right support

MatchMove’s Chief of People, Nicole Poon believes in consistently improving collaboration and employee engagement, especially in a virtual-driven environment.

At fintech company MatchMove, hybrid working was long in place before COVID-19 hit — to cater to varied workforce needs impacted by traffic, commuting time, time differences, and more, across all its offices in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. In addition, flexi-hours allowed employees to attend to home matters when needed, says Nicole Poon, Chief of People, MatchMove.

As such, videoconferencing was frequently used to conduct meetings, interviews, and employee activities virtually. “At times, we could even hear the roosters crow while having virtual calls!” Poon remarks.

So when the pandemic hit, Poon and the team agreed to look beyond business continuity planning – and into ways to improve the employee and job candidate experience. For instance, to increase collaboration and innovation while employees worked from home, the company introduced bi-weekly learning sessions, built up the learning library, adopted a new HRMS, and enhanced digital tools, in addition to new virtual team activities such as its very own ‘Virtual Amazing Race’, ‘MatchMove Got Talent’, tech hackathons, and more.

MatchMove also relooked at its overall talent strategies to align with the new way of work and expectations. “We understood that our employees faced COVID-19 and work-from-home challenges, and placed high importance on empathy and extending our support to them. Therefore, we also increased their insurance coverage and provided extra allowances for them,” Poon shares.

All these interventions bode well for MatchMove, allowing its diversified teams to “go global and act local”, Poon shares. “Having a diversified team has helped the group grow the business through local expertise and language, and made it more inclusive and respectful of cultural differences.”

Ultimately, the management and HR team live by one core message — One ‘MatchMove’ — that permeates across its hiring, recruitment, and selection strategies. “If a talent has the skills and is the right fit for the company, we want them to work with us,” Poon adds.

Lessons learnt in the process

As with every journey, MatchMove’s was not short of its own challenges — and during the pandemic, talent attraction was one of them. With high demand for tech- and digitally-savvy talent all around the region, the talent war was well and truly underway.

This was a good impetus for MatchMove to review its talent acquisition strategies to ensure it could attract the top talent for its business expansion needs, whilst standing up to other industry players. The newly-launched HRMS came handy, enabling Poon and team to study the data and analyse gaps to help with better and timely recruitment strategies.

What also helped the employer branding was MatchMove’s promise to “cultivate an innovative and knowledge-sharing environment”, driven by bi-weekly learning sessions that activated cross-departmental learning opportunities. Poon elaborates: "By doing so, our employees are more aware of the functions of various departments, but more importantly, we want to build up understanding, empathy, and collaborative spirit across teams and departments. Recent survey results on our learning sessions also showed that about 94% of staff have acquired new knowledge and more than 87% found these sessions useful."

With recruitment, engagement, learning covered, next is retention, for which its ‘Marvels Appreciation Programme’ recognises employees with a choice of a gift that commensurates with their tenure, starting from one-and-a-half years.

Further, growth opportunities are provided for both horizontal (multi-skills) and vertical growth. In fact, MatchMove is also working with agencies such as the Singapore FinTech Association, Institute for Human Resource Professionals, and Institute of Banking and Finance Singapore to groom and grow Singapore’s local talent pool.

Navigating to the future

According to Poon, “the pandemic has taught us different lessons but what stands out the most is the need to be agile, timely, and flexible in our arrangements.”

“As we grow and expand to different geographies, talent acquisition becomes even more crucial. While our headquarters will remain in Singapore, we are looking to expand our product offerings and offices in multiple geographies globally,” Poon adds.

Incorporating this multi-fold growth, MatchMove is ensuring that the human capital challenges of growing into a multinational company globally are identified and addressed. Thus, the employees in Singapore can look forward to gaining more exposure to the new growth initiatives in existing and new markets as the organisation expands overseas.

From a human capital point of view, Poon notes the most important factors to keep in mind when expanding: clear vision; costs and budgeting; availability of talents and infrastructure; language barriers, and research and market opportunities.

“The pandemic has not only accelerated digital adoption but also brought a shift in traditional job descriptions and work profiles to modern age roles, with a need to adapt to the new norm. It would be important to identify this shift and modify the hiring strategy accordingly that aligns with the company’s growth plans,” she concludes.

What it takes to attract the right talent in Singapore, from R&D to entertainment

With capability transfer programmes and complimentary attraction tours, two organisations share how they are keeping the best talent in their pipeline.

With the wave of resignations hitting organisations everywhere, employers have been forced to revamp their talent attraction and employee retention strategies.

Despite both organisations being in two vastly different fields, let's hear how the teams at Rohde & Schwarz and Merlin Entertainments are buckling down on their talent acquisition efforts.

Rohde & Schwarz

International technology solutions provider Rohde & Schwarz set up its first research and development (R&D) lab in Singapore in 2008, with an aim to strengthen its R&D capabilities and develop new cutting-edge technologies and solutions for its customers.

At that point, the organisation was admittedly facing a challenge in attracting talent with the right knowledge, skills, and mindset suitable for R&D.

“The fact that there were few German speakers in Singapore also made certain business aspects – bridging cultural gaps, earning trust, interpreting documents and fostering good collaboration within the organisation – a challenge,” Zhang Zhixiang, Director of Human Resources, Rohde & Schwarz Asia, shares.

Recognising the need to address these gaps in existing and future talents, the group developed and implemented the following programmes:

  1. A capability transfer programme: 28 engineers from the Singapore office were sent to Germany for training, which would last anywhere from three months to two years, from 2008 to 2015. There was also a global attachment programme in Singapore from 2016 to 2019, where R&D engineers from the head office were sent to the Singapore office to coordinate internal development efforts.
  2. ‘Poly Goes UAS’ programme: This initiative aims to build practice-oriented engineering talent for Rohde & Schwarz operations in Singapore. It provides eligible diploma holders a bond-free scholarship to obtain a degree at the University of Applied Sciences (UAS) in Germany, relevant work experience through apprenticeships, and a job in Singapore. To date, the organisation has groomed five scholars who have started work, and has six more in the pipeline.
  3. Other student engagement programmes: Rohde & Schwarz offers other scholarship opportunities in collaboration with the Technical University of Munich (TUM), and through the Singapore-Industry Scholarship (SgIS) to groom future engineering talents. The organisation worked with the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) for student industrial exchange programmes in Singapore and Germany, as well as organised an annual engineering competition involving global student teams, where the winning team from Singapore would get a free trip to Munich to compete with teams there.

These efforts became the strong foundation on which Rohde & Schwarz tackled the Great Resignation. Capability transfer programmes were restarted with international travel resuming, albeit on a smaller scale. The team also worked closely with various local tertiary institutions on integrated work or dual study programmes in addition to scholarships — some of these to be more clearly announced in the near term. It is the hope of the team that these additional efforts would help Rohde & Schwarz remain competitive in the new playing field for talent, Zhang affirms.

Merlin Entertainments

The team at Merlin Entertainments found itself in a similar situation.

Merlin Entertainments’ Madame Tussauds first opened its doors in Singapore in 2014. As part of a global leader in location-based, family entertainment, the group had established its presence in over 25 locations. As such, talent acquisition was not a challenge given the “steady and high number of job applications to fill its roles,” Yasmin Taylor-Tuma, HR Manager – Singapore, Merlin Entertainments, shares.

However, in 2017, the organisation saw an increase in turnover — a result of slow career development, particularly in operational functions; as well as a decline in job applications due to increasing competition in the tourism industry as more attractions popped up.

Faced with this, the leadership team knew it was time to review the company's talent acquisition strategy — not just to continue attracting talent, but to also remain competitive amidst the industry’s tight labour market.

In that vein, the company focused on three areas in its recovery:

  1. Employer branding: Current employees are encouraged, and even provided with platforms to share their experience working with the attraction to help create a stronger employer branding.
  2. Candidate experience: The organisation adopted a mobile-friendly recruitment platform to simplify the job application process, from four steps to one. Candidates are also invited on complimentary attraction tours to get a first-hand experience of their potential workplace and colleagues.
  3. Career development: The group looks to develop its staff at Madame Tussauds through cross-functional training and job posting opportunities. It encourages knowledge transfer and talent retention, by developing team members’ skill sets in other functions, and empowering line department leaders to train or nominate employees to be developed into trainers. Apart from that, Madame Tussauds also hires six to eight interns in hospitality yearly, through its partnership with various institutes of technical education (ITEs).

Today, these efforts have paid off for the team. With the new strategy in place, Madame Tussauds has seen 13% of its current headcount return to work for the business after having left for six months or less. At the same time, over 60% of its interns moved into permanent part-time positions, with about 8.3% of the attraction’s current headcount comprising former interns.

MatchMove, Rohde & Schwarz, and Merlin Entertainments are part of the Human Capital Partnership (HCP) Programme. The HCP Programme is 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 to find out more about the HCP Programme.

This article first appeared in the Q3 edition of Human Resources Online's Southeast Asia e-magazine. View a copy of the e-magazine here, where you'll find power-packed features and interviews with leaders from Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and more!

hrsg q3 2022 ofc

Lead image / Provided ( L - R: Yasmin Taylor-Tuma, Zhang Zhixiang, Nicole Poon)

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