DN Prasad, Senior Director, People & Organisation Division, GovTech, on the initiatives undertaken to create a workplace where the voice of GovTechies helps to define people policies, practices, and programmes.
Digital transformation within the public sector is at the heart of what GovTech, or Government Technology Agency of Singapore, does. It harnesses the best info-communications technologies to make a difference to the everyday lives of people in Singapore.
At the 11th annual edition of HR Excellence Awards - Singapore in 2023, GovTech won the gold award for 'Excellence in Leadership Development', and the silver award for ‘Excellence in Work-life Harmony’.
To celebrate this milestone, we catch up with DN Prasad, Senior Director, People & Organisation Division, GovTech, on the initiatives undertaken to create a workplace where the voice of GovTechies helps to define people policies, practices, and programmes.
Q Congratulations on your top performance at the HR Excellence Awards! How has your HR and people strategy contributed to your success this year?
Thank you. We are very grateful for, and delighted and proud of the recognition. These are results of years of intentional work and evolving our people practices, which have been designed to be fit-for-purpose at any time while also being forward looking and progressive. At the heart of our people strategy, not surprisingly has been our GovTechies. Their “voice” has been a defining contributor to our policies, practices and programmes.
True to our values, we have been agile in responding to changing market and workforce situations, collaborative among our leaders, GovTechies and Public Service Division in designing solutions, and bold to push the envelope to implement market leading people practices in the public service.
We have focused on building and strengthening an integrated People function, showing up and collaborating as true thought partners and talent advisors, and playing our part in nurturing a culture underpinned by learning, customer-centricity, data-driven decision making and organisational agility.
Q Looking back at your achievements, what aspect of your HR initiatives are you most proud of and why?
That’s a hard one. I cannot have favourites and it is the holistic approach to people strategy and all associated initiatives that make GovTech a destination of choice for talent, tech and otherwise. If I were to really pick a few in the context of this interview and the awards we won and were shortlisted for, I would go with our suite of offerings and strategy for leadership development and our consolidated efforts in employer branding. Both have been longitudinal work, the kind that requires meticulous design, excellence in planning and execution, an intentionality to playing the long-term game and the patience to go with it, for the results to bear.
We have seen tremendous results on both counts with these initiatives and they are now bona fide movements within GovTech, and not just HR initiatives.
Q During your HR journey, what were some significant obstacles you faced, and how did you overcome them to achieve excellence?
Three big recessions, the 9/11 tragedy, COVID-19 – they surely qualify as significant obstacles, don’t they? When we have been in the thick of action during some of these globally significant events, workplace obstacles really pale in comparison. Being in strong people-centric organisations (Infosys, Google, and GovTech) in such tiring times have really contributed to my professional journey and growth.
There are a few stand-out learnings that we, as an organisation and as a people function anchored on, to achieve excellence; not in any particular order:
- Operating with first principles,
- Always listen to your user (employees and candidates, in this case),
- Articulate purpose for the work we do,
- Trust people and give them freedom, and they will amaze you,
- The way we treat people is a choice (we make).
Q How does your organisation measure the success and impact of your HR initiatives?
A question we ask ourselves frequently at GovTech is, “What does success look like?”. It is true and common for the organisation, divisions and initiatives alike, underpinned by our data-driven decision-making culture.
We have defined success metrics for the People function as well as each Centre of Excellence (how we organise our teams). In addition, each new and large initiative must have their own success metrics.
We acknowledge that realisation of hard metrics might take time in some cases; we therefore also rely on qualitative and more frequent dip-stick measures to determine if we are on the right track. The feedback loop helps us course correct on a real-time basis. We also sense-check for sentiments of our prospective and current talent on various external platforms.
Among the success measures I am particularly proud of, are our Employee Engagement Score (a five-year best of 85%) and a single-digit attrition, both of which are testimony to GovTech’s pre-eminent position as an employer of choice.
Q In what direction do you see the HR/people function evolving in the future, considering the emerging trends?
Some of my observations regarding the evolution of the people function are as follows:
- Rapid adaptability and resilience are no longer just buzzwords but essential cornerstones for any thriving organisation. The People function will play a pivotal role in enabling organisations.
- We're moving away from traditional talent strategies towards a broader framework of talent access, emphasising the pivotal role skills play in the modern workforce.
- This era heralds the rise of leadership that not only inspires but moulds organisational outcomes with their vision and ethos.
HR's role is no longer confined to operational tasks or even tactical programmes. With the challenges of a fluctuating employee-employer dynamic, skills shortages, and the undeniable influence of AI and other tech, our function stands at the nexus of ensuring organisational agility and foresight.
Read more interviews on why organisations have won trophies for their HR practices - head over to our Winning Secrets' section!
Lead image / Provided by GovTech