Winning Secrets: Changi Airport Group's L&D strategies are empowering employees to feel more effective and purposeful

Winning Secrets: Changi Airport Group's L&D strategies are empowering employees to feel more effective and purposeful

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Employees are becoming strong problem-solvers as well as are better equipped for digitalisation since FutureReadyME, CAG Accelerator, and Low Code CoE were introduced.

To build a future-ready organisation, Changi Airport Group strongly believes in investing in its people. This belief is maintained at all levels, including stakeholders and senior management.

Putting this into action, the Group has rolled out various programmes and platforms as part of its comprehensive and forward-thinking learning and development strategy — earning it a bronze win for Excellence in Learning and Development at the HR Excellence Awards 2022, Singapore.

Shirley Cheong, Vice President, People Development & Experience, Changi Airport Group, shares more on its winning strategy, from its suite of digital content conceived in-house, to the utilisation of virtual and augmented reality in enhancing training experiences for employees.

Q Congratulations on the achievement! Could you take us through the highs and lows of your winning strategy?

At Changi Airport Group (CAG), we strive to build a future-ready organisation. We aspire to be the most innovative company in Singapore, and we see each CAG employee as a key enabler in this pursuit. This, in fact, forms the anchor of our people development strategy: to equip our employees with the right capabilities and a growth mindset. Not only will this help in making them more effective at work, but it will also transform them into exceptional innovators.

While we are committed to developing our employees to be innovative and adaptable through continuous learning, we had to be creative in communicating mindset transformation on a corporate level given our large organisational size of about 1,800 employees, each with diverse backgrounds.

We rolled out a myriad of programmes and platforms to help build a future-ready organisation. One key initiative was the Growth [email protected] programme, which encouraged employees to be innovative and forward-thinking. This enabled them to thrive in changes, view challenges as opportunities, and foster a desire to learn and grow. Besides a suite of digital content conceived in-house by our learning & development team to facilitate self-learning, regular brown-bag sessions with senior management were also organised. The sessions allowed different divisions to showcase various innovative projects, as well as how the projects were conceptualised and put into action. Following feedback, we incorporated more hands-on activities in our dialogue sessions to help employees better apply what they learned to their area of work.

We also enhanced our in-house capabilities to tackle common pain points at work with digital technologies. This led to the implementation of CAG Accelerator in 2021, an enterprise programme that provides a shortcut to organisational expertise. This programme co-opts subject matter experts (SMEs) across various technology domains, such as data science or digital product experimentation, and employees can consult this panel of experts to help them identify the most appropriate solution approaches for their ideas.

Choosing to invest in our employees to become future-ready has encouraged every individual to focus on their learning and growth and allow them to develop a future-ready mindset. We equip them with basic knowledge and skills in key digital areas and enable them to contribute fresh ideas and see how they can be incorporated into their workflow.

Q How did the HR team identify and align the business & employee needs, and craft this perfect solution?

As part of our belief in investing in our people, three key initiatives were introduced – namely FutureReadyME, CAG Accelerator, and Low Code CoE (Centre of Excellence). To ensure that our people are primed for upskilling and continuous learning, selected digital areas that were mutually beneficial (eg. data-driven thinking, customer centricity, and agile working) to both the business and employee needs were identified and implemented. Prior to these initiatives, liaison with the relevant stakeholders and internal marketing campaigns were devised to help raise awareness. This positioned our employees with the same digital foundation to achieve consistency without compromising on business needs.

Apart from this, employees are also encouraged to contribute ideas to help create new streams of revenue for CAG or streamline the current operating processes.  

Q Could you share the results that your strategy has delivered – be it on the business, HR, or people side?

The strategy we have adopted has been incredibly beneficial to all aspects of our business, but most particularly for our employees. The three key initiatives implemented by CAG have inculcated lifelong learning and provided opportunities for employees to be included in our journey of transformation. Since the inception of FutureReadyME, there has been an uptick in active participation, with 67% of our workforce participating in this initiative.

Furthermore, employees are given an opportunity to propose ideas or become problem solvers by developing solutions themselves. This is achieved through connecting employees to the relevant learning resources or training programmes run by our Centres of Excellence (CoE). The CoE serves as a platform to help advise employees on support options to develop new digital solutions, as well as funding support for innovation and experimentation. These accelerate digitalisation and help improve our workflow, as our employees can leverage these tools to innovate solutions pertaining to business needs and enhance personal productivity.

Through our annual employee engagement survey, it was indicated that most employees were appreciative of CAG for providing them with a wide spectrum of learning activities for them to hone their skill sets despite the challenging business outlook.

Q What is your message to all the stakeholders who have supported you in this journey?

Our stakeholders and senior management recognise the need to invest in our people, for employees to gain other relevant skills that complement our work. One example is employees can work closely with our CoE to capitalise on low code software such as Microsoft Power Platform to improve our work processes while accelerating digitalisation within the organisation.

Funding is also provided for employees to tap on and upskill themselves in the hopes of narrowing the gap between business needs and productivity. This encourages employees to step out of their comfort zone and take on new portfolios through CAG’s initiatives to prepare the workforce to be future-ready.

This helped us to be engaged in finding ways to build our own digital solutions to address business needs and enhance productivity. Through this, our people can remain effective and purposeful.

Q What are you most excited about when you think about the future of HR?

Technology is fast becoming a cornerstone for businesses, and organisations are looking to leverage technological innovations to drive human resources management as well. One key area is the use of technology to enhance jobs, upskill and improve employees’ personal development and growth. With virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) finding their way into workplaces, they are primed for making real productive changes at work and for companies to better engage employees.

Here at CAG, we are experimenting with the use of AR to supplement classroom training for our airport firefighters, and this has positively enhanced the training experiences for the employees. Exposing employees to new technologies and innovation will also help chart their growth towards being future-ready, adding value to their personal development and contribution to the organisation. As we progress towards our journey of innovation, our employees will grow with us, create new solutions and explore new possibilities to make a real and lasting impact on our airport business. This will ultimately benefit our partners and passengers as we continue to deliver unrivalled service as a world-class airport.

Photo / Changi Airport Group 

Read more interviews on why organisations have won trophies for their HR practices - head over to our Winning Secrets section!

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