As Singapore restructures itself into a knowledge-based economy, companies will have to progress from being competitive to collaborative. They will also need to be willing to embrace risks, as well as cultivate diversity and inclusiveness at work.
In recent years, there has been a national focus on providing fair and progressive employment practices, observes Ms Evelyn Kwek, managing director of Great Place to Work Institute Singapore, the local chapter of the global research authority on building, sustaining and recognising high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures.
She says: “Every organisation is going through some form of transformation. However, without a culture of trust and inclusiveness, collaboration and innovation are unlikely to happen.
“Today’s great workplaces therefore need to work in new ways and with new behaviours to create a welcoming culture for all, regardless of profile or role.
“Ultimately, there is a need for behavioural changes, role-modelled by leaders in organisations to sustain transformation efforts.”
This year, Great Place to Work has refreshed its mission globally to help organisations and has a bold goal to partner with organisations to build “Great Places to Work For All” by 2030.
Part of its evaluation process in identifying honourees for its 2017 Singapore Best Workplaces list focuses on the extent to which an organisation’s policies and practices are “all-inclusive” in areas such as hiring, talent development, rewards and recognition, two-way communication and work-life balance.
“By ‘all-inclusiveness’, we mean that all employees have the opportunity to be involved in the development of policies and practices that affect them,” says Ms Joni Ong, managing director of Great Place to Work Institute Singapore.
A total of 13 organisations made the list this year. It was expanded to recognise not just medium- and large-sized companies, but also small organisations. The latter includes Intuit Singapore, ROHEI Corporation, and Orbium, each with fewer than 100 employees.
The inclusion of small organisations is part of Great Place to Work’s move to start a “Best Small Organizations” list, to recognise the important role that smaller-sized organisations play in Singapore’s economy as well as reflect Singapore’s vibrant start-up ecosystem.
“We hope to see more small organisations get recognised for their efforts in building a strong workplace culture over time.
“The 13 organisations this year were all exemplary in building and sustaining inspiring and high-performing workplaces — places where employees trust the people they work for, have pride in what they do, and enjoy the people they work with,” she says.
As in previous years, technology companies dominate this year’s list.
Ms Kwek notes that the strong showing from this industry underscores the relentless focus that technology companies place in creating an environment that attracts and keeps talents to enable them to maximise their potential.
Two hospitality groups — Furama Hotels Singapore and Royal Plaza on Scotts — joined their ranks this year. They have learnt that offering guests a superior service experience is vital to retain market share in a manpower-scarce industry faced with fierce competition from the sharing economy. This starts with having happy staff who will strive to ensure that their guests are also happy. This year’s list also saw the logistics industry represented for the first time with a new entrant — DHL Express (Singapore).
“It demonstrates that Best Workplaces can come from any sector. Even with a large rank-and-file staff profile, it is possible to create a great workplace where employees feel respected and included,” she adds.
Happy employees at the award ceremony.
Great Place to Work is partnering organisations to build, enhance and sustain their workplace cultures and performance abilities based on core principles such as trust, respect and fairness.
It hopes to help them understand the moral and business case behind a diverse and inclusive workplace. This can be achieved by enabling more organisations and leaders to get quality employee experience data and analytical insights into their culture, as well as inspiring more leaders, through Best Workplaces’ examples and its research, to see the importance and possibilities in previously untapped demographic groups or profiles.
Some examples of inclusive policies and practices it has picked up from Best Workplaces include ongoing training for “people” managers to lead diverse groups effectively, as well as simplifying the feedback process from employees via applications and leveraging real-time data to inform management decisions.Cultivating inclusiveness will also put the company in good stead to meet future workplace trends. With the rise of the gig economy where companies engage more temporary and short-term contract staff and freelancers, there will be a need to be prepared to hire from different sources and still create a positive workplace experience for all.
And as the use of technology and artificial intelligence becomes more pervasive, skilled talent will be needed to take on new and niche jobs, making talent attraction and retention more critical for companies.
“A psychologically safe workplace, free of discrimination with clear principles of fair play, enables an employee to freely collaborate with co-workers, helping them channel their energies towards being productive and innovative,” says Ms Kwek.
The Great Place to Work Singapore team.
"By making the organisation fun to work in, CEOs are driven by passion to make a difference."
Mr Patrick Fiat, general manager and chief experience officer, Royal Plaza on Scotts
“We have forged a climate of appreciation by recognising good work, values and any extra effort. Even a simple ‘Thank you’ for a job well done is a big part of the NetApp culture and the most genuine form of appreciation that employees can give to one another.”
Mr Kris Day, senior regional director, NetApp’s Asean
"We emphasised anonymity, that is, staff cannot and will not be identified in the survey result. They have to air their views independently based on their own personal beliefs and value systems, and their experiences with the hotels. The results said a lot about the level and depth of trust within the organisation, among staff and the superior-subordinate relationship. Trust is the single most important ingredient in making Furama a great organisation to work in."
Mr William Ng, managing director, Furama Hotels Singapore
“Open feedback keeps the channels open, allowing us to identify what we are doing well and be encouraged, to learn from what we can improve. We want to avoid crippling empathy, where all we do is empathise with others, but do nothing to help them get better.”
Ms Rachel Ong, founder and chief executive, ROHEI