Chua Sing Ling, VP and Head, Singapore Market, Group HR, Certis, on recognising how employees are different, and thus tailoring plans and programmes to address diverse needs.
Certis took home the gold award for 'Excellence in Women Empowerment Strategy' as well as the silver as ‘Employer of the Year’ at the HR Excellence Awards 2021, Singapore.
In this interview, Chua Sing Ling, Vice President and Head, Singapore Market, Group Human Resources, Certis, affirms the actions taken around creating diverse opportunities for people and equipping them with the skills to transcend perceived progression barriers.
Q What is your organisation’s winning HR strategy, and what are some milestones you’ve accomplished along this journey?
Caring for, and developing employees as whole persons, not just as our workers, is our strategy. This means we recognise how employees are different, and we tailor our plans and programmes to address diverse needs.
As we celebrate our female empowerment strategy award, I’m glad to see how Certis has increasing female representation and leadership in security and tech-related roles, in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
Another milestone is creating diverse opportunities for our people. We believe talents come with different skills and strengths, and we provide tools to sharpen them so employees transcend perceived progression barriers, no matter their starting point.
Our third milestone lies in using technology to enable and enhance work and career growth. We introduced upskilling / reskilling initiatives to encourage our older or less tech-savvy workers to pick up tech-related courses not just to aid their jobs, but also to help them be relevant for future work.
Q How has this strategy helped you achieve your HR priorities, and what role has the leadership played in helping make this initiative a reality?
Developing our workforce holistically leads us to employee-centric decision-making.
We start with what we think our diverse employees want and use empathy as our compass so our policies and programmes do not only make sense on paper, but really impact lives.
People have different strengths and different ways they want to grow their career and interests. Responding to an engagement survey, Certis launched ‘Global Career Tracks’ and the ‘Individual Development Plan’. We personalise each employee’s journey and provide the help they want to grow as people, such as moving within and across career paths and job functions, especially from non-management to management roles.
Female employees or people leaning towards tech-related opportunities can also use this programme to explore new tasks and overseas roles that they might be interested in.
We also encourage employees to create time for other impactful things like contributing to community and society, resting and spending time with loved ones.
Q Unexpected roadblocks are part and parcel of executing any initiative. What were some of the barriers that you and your team experienced while rolling this out, and how did you successfully get past them?
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought challenges and created different, new work environments like moving employees out of an office to home settings. Besides keeping both frontliners and non-frontline staff safe, we had to consider employees’ family situations and help them still perform their tasks well while balancing other responsibilities.
Knowing that social support is important to our people, we also needed to update our definition of families and extended care to include employees’ grandparents and in-laws.
In a socially-distanced world, we also used technology to keep people connected and automation helped to reduce work time on certain administrative tasks.
Faced with wider uncertainties and changing restrictions, we had to rethink programmes and policies, and be prepared to keep plans fluid or change as we go along.
Q As evidenced by the win, this initiative clearly delivered some amazing results. What was your gameplan for measuring ROI? What are some proud achievements you can share with us on this front?
Like our vision states, we measure ourselves against our promise to create a safer, smarter and better world, and we start by delivering this same promise to our people.
Within Certis, employees shared positive sentiments that they feel cared for, and we assure them that we welcome continuous feedback. Good employee survey results include: “physically safe place to work (88%)”, “feel good about the way we contribute to society (80%)”, “when I see what we achieve, I feel a sense of pride (73%)”.
When our people feel valued, we in turn are able to deliver to our customers, and to our community.
In addition to HREA, we are also humbled and honoured to receive a number of HR-related and other accolades this year.
Q We’re now seeing HR manage portfolios that were previously considered far from their job description. In your view, what are the top three skills and attributes of today’s successful CHRO?
Change is accelerating with digitalisation. To continue creating a future-ready workforce, human resources professionals cannot just craft policies and programmes that make sense only on paper. They need to be in touch and aware of employees’ jobs to implement effective initiatives, tapping on different skills and expertise, and incorporating these into human resources.
Furthermore, younger generations of employees are learning and growing at quicker speeds, so willingness and propensity to upskill is necessary for human resources professionals. Upgrading themselves along with technology and learning skills in areas such as big data is important.
Third, the work of human resources still centres on lives. Empathy and communicating to the heart of our workforce’s needs remains essential.
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