A 'High-tech + High-trust = High-touch' approach allows Singtel’s HR team to be freed of manual tasks to focus on people relationships, skills development and higher value work.

Scoring the silver win in Excellence in Digital Transformation at HR Excellence Awards 2020, Singapore is the HR team from Singtel. The team shared some of its key milestones through Singtel's digital transformation journey – digitalising all employee data on their cloud-based HR management system called HR Central and launching #CURIOUS, a digital learning platform for their employees to customise their learning experience.

Q What is your organisation’s winning HR strategy, and what are some milestones you’ve accomplished along this journey?

In recent years, Singtel has embarked on a digital transformation journey to invest in new digital businesses and digitalise our core consumer and enterprise businesses for the new economy. Our strategy is to lead the digitalisation of HR and shape the future of work in tandem with the company’s digital transformation efforts. We have focused on streamlining processes as we shift our emphasis to more strategic aspects of HR and investing in deepening the digital skills of our people to build more agile teams and drive better decisions about the workforce, supported by data insights.

Some key milestones include digitalising all employee data on our cloud-based HR management system called HR Central, enabling us to securely store and access information and effectively gain insights by leveraging people analytics. HR Central also serves as a one-stop portal integrating HR processes like performance management, salary and claims. We have also automated processes for better outcomes such as the implementation of chatbots to address simple queries from employees, as well as in our recruitment process to guide candidates through their job applications.

Another major milestone was our launch of #CURIOUS, a digital learning platform last year. It features over 100,000 courses and gives our employees the flexibility to customise their learning experience and develop new skills.

We recently curated new learning channels on this platform to help employees acquire skills and knowledge to help them work better from home during the pandemic.

Through our 'High-tech + High-trust = High-touch; approach, our HR staff can be freed up from manual tasks to focus on people relationships, skills development and higher value 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?

There are real and tangible benefits of adopting technology in HR. By simplifying and streamlining our processes and integrating HR functions on HR Central, we are achieving greater efficiency and improving the employee experience across the company.

We are now better able to respond to changing employees needs quicker and more efficiently, and at the same time also achieve time and cost savings. We’ve also helped employees to embrace digitalisation as we introduced mobile versions of the same HR tools, making it convenient for employees to use HR services on the go.

We have improved the way we engage employees, communicate with them and listen to them. Data management and people analytics have enabled us to plan better for recruitment, talent development, as well as managing employee attrition and retention, while feedback gleaned from EXperience, our Employee sentiments survey platform, has enabled us to respond with the appropriate initiatives.

We have also managed to accelerate learning for our workforce. With #CURIOUS delivering learning in modular, bite-sized digital formats over both mobile and desktop platforms, employees have participated actively in these courses and deepened their competencies at a faster rate.

Achieving HR digital transformation and making it a reality is a joint effort of everyone in the company – both management and employees, as we bring all aspects of our business into our company’s wider digital transformational journey.

We are very encouraged by the high level of positive response to the new digital initiatives we have launched and it continues to spur us to work on bringing more digital experiences to our employees.

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?

Our HR digital transformation is focused on helping our people to do their work more effectively.

While the changes may cause some anxiety among employees who are uncomfortable about technology, we have initiatives tailored for those with little or no technical background to equip them with basic digital skills and foster the right mindset. The training programmes and hands-on experience give employees a taste of how technology can help them in their work and when they see tangible benefits such as the amount of time they can save, that makes them more receptive to technology. We have also introduced contests and courses like bot-making to encourage those seeking to achieve greater digital learning milestones.

Q As evidenced by the win, this initiative clearly delivered some amazing results. What was your game plan for measuring ROI? What are some proud achievements you can share with us on this front?

Some of the measurable returns we have observed from digitalisation include time savings, cost savings, increased security of employee records, among others. For example, by digitising all of our employee records, we’ve not only managed to reduce storage space, but also cut the time required for filing and our monthly printing volume by 47%.

In addition, the use of predictive screening software for hiring has enhanced our recruiters’ productivity by 50%.

Q With WFH being the norm for the bigger part of this year, how have you used new forms of technology to improve processes?

Technology has helped us with remote employee engagement as we were able to understand their concerns during this challenging period and respond appropriately. At the start of the pandemic when a large part of our workforce had to work from home, we used our EXperience tool to conduct pulse surveys that helped us gain a good sense of employee sentiment.

We detected that employees were experiencing higher levels of stress and stepped up on engagement initiatives, providing them with practical tips on enhancing mindfulness and mental wellbeing and organising activities like virtual concerts, online live quizzes and webinars. We also communicated with them more frequently through internal messages and videos which kept them informed of Singtel’s response to COVID-19 and paid tribute to our dedicated teams supporting essential services and critical functions who have ensured we continue to serve customers as usual. To help lift our employees’ spirits during this trying period, we also created short films to celebrate the Hari Raya and Deepavali festivities with them and their families.

We also leveraged technology to encourage staff to pick up more digital skills virtually at home. Besides our existing #CURIOUS platform, we launched Digital 365 (Living Room Edition), a series of virtual workshops to help employees become proficient in digital tools like programming and data analytics. This year was also the first time that we took our annual learning festival, the Singtel Group Learning Fiesta fully online.

While COVID-19 disrupted the workplace and forced us to shift gears quickly, our digital transformation and virtual channels have enabled us to pivot quickly to engage employees in new ways, while our employees have also demonstrated that they can be very adaptable and receptive to change. We have learned new ways of working, collaborating and engaging employees during the pandemic and this will certainly inform our approach on the future of work.

Photo / Provided

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


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