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Summary of Singapore's top HR moves last month

HR news in brief: March 2016, Singapore

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IBM ditches traditional annual performance reviews

IBM has gone the way of Accenture, Gap and others, with its 10-year-old performance management system called “personal business commitments” replaced with an approach that includes more frequent feedback, and more opportunity to shift employee goals throughout the year. Diane Gherson, IBM’s CHRO, spoke to Fortune magazine, saying a big impetus for the change was IBM’s employees “were already doing work differently than the system assumed”.
Fortune magazine reported that last year, Gherson and her team decided to change IBM’s performance review system, as part of a larger series of changes, as the Big Blue transitions away from hardware to higher growth areas such as mobile, data analytics and cloud-based services.
IBM turned to its 380,000 employees to crowdsource the process through its internal social media platform, garnering 75,000 views and 2,000 comments from employees.
The new app-based performance review system called checkpoint went live in February 2016, helping employees set shorter term goals, with managers providing feedback on their progress at least every quarter. At the end of the year, employees will be judged across five criteria – business results, impact on client success, innovation, personal responsibility to others, and skills.

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Yahoo terminates employees in Singapore

Yahoo laid off employees from its Singapore office in February, in line with its plan to revamp its core internet business, which includes streamlining its workforce.
A Yahoo spokesperson said: “In early February, Yahoo shared a plan for the future, with this new plan came some very difficult decisions and changes to our business. As a result of these changes some jobs have been eliminated.
“We thank those employees for their outstanding service to Yahoo and will treat these employees with the respect and fairness they deserve.”
Nevertheless, Yahoo’s operations in Singapore will continue as “it remains an important market for Yahoo”, the spokesperson added. While the company declined to disclose specifics related to the separation agreements, the spokesperson confirmed “those eligible for their annual bonus will remain eligible to receive the bonus”.
Uncertain economic times have caused several large companies to restructure their businesses. Earlier this month, Japanese online retailer Rakuten announced it would shut its operations in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, reported Marketing magazine, in a move expected to affect under 150 employees.

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HP to lay off 3,000 workers this year

Last year, HP announced the termination of about 1,200 jobs in 2016, as the company split into two. Now, reports have emerged it is accelerating its restructuring programme and, as such, nearly 3,000 workers will leave the company by the end of this year.
The restructuring will result in charges and associated cash payments of about US$300 million in the current year, the company said.
Fortune magazine reported that in a conference call with analysts, HP executives said the tough market had altered HP’s plans.
“The recently spun-off maker of printers and PCs said that its fiscal first quarter revenue fell 12% year over year to $12.2 billion because of weak sales,” it stated. It added that according to HP’s chief financial officer Catherine Lesjak, the layoffs should save the company roughly $300 million by the beginning of 2017.
“We have a clear strategy that leverages our strengths, and we are focused on execution, taking cost out of the business and delivering innovations that will amaze our customers and partners,” said Dion Weisler, HP’s president and CEO in a press release issued by the company.

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Google looks to hire engineers in Singapore

In line with its aim to bring fast and affordable access to more people worldwide, Google has decided to build a new engineering team in Singapore to get closer to the next billion users set to go online.
Caesar Sengupta, vice-president of the next billion users team at Google, explained in a blog post his vision for fixing the computing experiences for most of the 300 million people who went online for the first time last year – from places such as India, Indonesia and the Philippines – referring to issues such as patchy connectivity and language-specific content.
Google plans to kick-start the new team by:

  1. Bringing in the team from Pie.co – a Singapore-based start-up recently acquired by Google – to help kick-start the new local engineering team.
  2. Actively hiring engineers – both new grads and experienced engineers – in Singapore.
  3. Implementing a 12-week internship programme which will take place in Australia for talented students from Singapore.
  4. Welcoming engineers from across the world who “have deep ties to Singapore, want to come back home, or would like to start calling Singapore their home”.

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The top 10 roles Singaporeans are shunning
Job vacancies in Singapore may have been at a six-year high last year, but the number declined over the year to 60,000 in September 2015 amid softer economic conditions. When seasonally adjusted, the ratio between the job vacancies and unemployed also declined from 121 in June and 143 in March 2015 to 116 openings per 100 job seekers in September 2015.
This was according to the latest job vacancy report released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). While non-PMET job vacancies were generally harder to fill (55%), hiring managers also faced difficulty in filling up PMET openings with 20% of PMET openings being unfilled for extended periods.
The top 10 PMET occupations with the highest number of vacancies unfilled for at least six months were:

  1. Enrolled/assistant nurses (excluding registered nurses) (420).
  2. Commercial and marketing sales (240).
  3. Executive registered nurses and other nursing professionals (210).
  4. Chefs (160).
  5. Restaurant managers (150).
  6. Software, web and multimedia developers (140).
  7. Management executives (130).
  8. Operations officers (except transport operations) (120).
  9. Financial/investment advisors (110).
  10. Sales and marketing managers (100).

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Ten interview questions for remote working candidates

With more companies recognising the benefits a skilled remote worker brings, it is becoming increasingly important for hiring managers to be able to effectively interview a remote candidate.
Things such as what interview questions to ask, what qualities to look for and how to onboard these workers are always at the top of the mind. Hubstaff put together a helpful piece, which includes the 10 interview questions you should be asking your remote candidate. These questions are:

  1. What is your remote working experience?
  2. What tools have you used to complete and manage remote projects?
  3. What is your home office like?
  4. How comfortable are you with discussing remote work-related concerns or conflicts?
  5. How do you stay focused and on deadline when working remotely?
  6. Have you ever had a tight deadline, and how did you manage it while working remotely?
  7. What kind of hours do you work?
  8. How do you troubleshoot problems on your own?
  9. Are you comfortable with using time tracking software?
  10. As a remote worker, do you keep up with industry news?

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Yelp employee fired for open letter to CEO

“Your employee for your food delivery app that you spent $300 million to buy can’t afford to buy food. That’s gotta be a little ironic, right?” wrote Talia Jane in an open letter to Yelp’s CEO, Jeremy Stoppelman in February. A couple of hours later, she was fired.
Jane stated in the letter that she spent $1,245 a month on rent in the notoriously expensive San Francisco Bay area while making $1466; and had no money left to buy food or to turn on the heater, adding she had not bought groceries since starting her job, living on the free office snacks.
Stoppelman was quick to distance himself from the saga, writing on Twitter: “I’ve not been personally involved in Talia being let go and it was not because she posted a medium letter directed at me.”
Without addressing Jane’s comments on her low salary, a Yelp representative wrote: “We agree with her comments about the high costs of living in San Francisco, which is why we announced in December that we are expanding our Eat24 customer support team into our Phoenix office where we will pay the same wage.”

HR’s biggest skill gaps

HR’s skill gaps have become apparent in a new report by DDI, where HR leaders are compared with their peers from other functions using two reference points: a behavioural simulation of leadership skills and a personality test. HR’s biggest weaknesses unveiled included financial acumen, business savvy, entrepreneurship and global acumen.
The surprise was when the report found that other than being weak in the core business concepts, HR is also underperforming in most other functions in terms of customer focus.
For example, the function is about 12% weaker than engineering, sales, marketing and IT when it comes to being attentive to internal and external customers and end users.
Thankfully, HR still has its strengths, being the strongest when it comes to building organisational talent. It is about 24% stronger than engineering, operations and finance and about 28% stronger than the marketing function.
Additionally, the report found that HR excelled in leading teams – where it is stronger than both engineering and finance. HR leaders were also strong in interpersonal sensitivity, but weaker in ambition and inquisitiveness.

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