Humanised leadership pays off

Leaders who lead with their heads and hearts are integral to making the workplace wonderful

LAST year’s best companies to work for in Singapore got even better this year, says Ms Evelyn Kwek, managing director, Great Place to Work Institute, Singapore.

“The Best Companies set a new and higher Trust Index benchmark in 2016 of 84 per cent, up by 2 per cent from last year. The organisations that were on our list last year did not rest on their laurels, but have been intentional on creating a great workplace for their employees,” she says.

This is the second year Great Place to Work Institute, Singapore, is releasing the Best Companies to Work For list.

Two-thirds of the results are primarily based on confidential inputs from employees, taken from findings of the Trust Index Employee Survey, while the remaining one-third is based on Great Place to Work’s audit of the company’s culture and people practices.

The Trust Index Employee Survey measures the extent to which a company is considered to be a great workplace by its employees. Questions are related to employees’ workplace experience with management, their jobs and with colleagues.

The culture audit includes detailed questions about pay and benefit programmes, and a series of open-ended questions about hiring practices, methods of internal communication, training, recognition programmes and diversity efforts.

This year, two new companies have made it to the list.

People matters

This year’s survey found that the human element plays a pivotal role in those organisations that made it to the list. Seven of the 10 on this year’s list are technology firms.

Mrs Joni Ong, managing director of Great Place to Work Institute, Singapore, says: “Humanised leadership behaviours set the Best 10 apart. The Best 10’s leaders are genuinely interested in their employees’ well-being.

“The leaders from the best companies have both heart and the head. They are genuinely interested in their employees’ well-being, know how to hire for job and culture fit, are effective leaders and recognise employees’ value to the organisation.”

She adds that her institute allows a husband and wife team to bring their four-month-old baby to the office every Thursday as they don’t have a nanny to look after the child that day.

The survey found that the companies on the list have distinctive humanised practices in three areas: they inspire, show appreciation and are good corporate citizens.

“These companies excel in helping their people understand how their individual work relates to the organisation’s ‘higher purpose’ as well as to its business success. They encourage employees across the organisation to share the meaningful impact on internal and external online platforms. They involve many employees, including their family members, in innovation challenges either as contributors or attendees,” says Mrs Ong.

There is also a climate of appreciation in these companies, says Ms Kwek, where leaders recognise good work and extra effort on an on-going basis.

“Also, the Best 10 are intentional about involving employees in their organisations’ efforts to give back to the community. These organisations make focused and long-term financial investment in causes that the organisation feels strongly about instead of ad hoc one-off type of volunteering activities.

“Further, they tend to go beyond dollars and cents and use the organisation’s talent and expertise to benefit the community,” adds Ms Kwek.

Different expectations

Expectedly, the survey found that the age and tenure of respondents affect their perceptions of a great workplace.

Baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) tend to have more positive workplace experiences while millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) may have higher and different expectations about what a company should offer in areas such as work-life integration, flexibility, total rewards and work design.

Millennials are also likely to be more connected, being able to access information quickly and drawing comparisons with the experiences in other organisations.

An employee’s tenure in a company also affects his assessment of the organisation. It was found that there are two critical points in an employee’s lifespan where they have less than positive assessments of their workplaces — at the two to five years’ mark and the 11 to 15 years’ mark.

As more millennials enter the workforce, organisations will need to find new ways to retain talent, says Mrs Ong.

She adds: “Traditional methods of retention such as salary increments and promotions will not be effective strategies to engage them. Instead, strategies that focus on increasing the meaningfulness of work, timely and on-going recognition and tailored well-being benefits could minimise the fluctuations observed.”

Ms Kwek says: “While it is important for salaries to be seen as fair and equitable, our key driver analysis shows that employees want to be seen as individuals and not just economic commodities.

“While it may not be always articulated, people appreciate that their leaders take time and effort to look into their well-being.”

Best Companies to Work for
  1. Salesforce
  2. Cisco
  3. InterContinental Hotels Group
  4. AbbVie
  5. SAP
  6. Royal Plaza on Scotts
  7. Autodesk Asia Pte Ltd
  8. Dell EMC
  9. Tableau Asia Pacific Pte Ltd
  10. NetApp Singapore Pte Ltd
Best Companies to Work for
  • Dymon Asia Capital
  • Hitachi Data Systems
  • National Instruments Singapore (Pte) Ltd


The Winners



Salesforce wins the battle for talent with its Ohana culture



SAP creates an enriching and fulfilling environment to bring out the best in its people

Royal Plaza on Scotts

Royal Plaza on Scotts

Royal Plaza on Scotts reaps the benefits of its unique approach to employee engagement



NetApp is committed to nurturing a close-knit, healthy and high performance workplace

What the winners say

"We have created an immersive environment where they can focus on customer success, innovation, on giving back and not forgetting to have fun. We want our employees to wake up every day excited to come to work, and we work hard to make that a reality."
Ms Cecily Ng, area vice-president, Enterprise Business Unit, Asia, Salesforce Asia Pacific

"Employees are the heartbeat of our organisation and every talent counts. We inspire our employees to stretch and future proof themselves for the realities of the digital workplace of the future and we believe this will contribute significantly to maintain and go beyond our leading position."
Mr Scott Russell, president and managing director, SAP South-east Asia

"It is only with happy talents that we will have happy guests and this is the foundation of the hotel’s tagline, What Can We Do For You. Royal Plaza on Scotts treats all talents as individuals, with personal commitments and aspirations that are beyond the walls of the workplace."
Mr Patrick Fiat, general manager and chief experience officer, Royal Plaza on Scotts

"We empower our people to actively engage in organisational-level decision making processes and make them feel uninhibited to approach their senior managers for help or to make suggestions. This gives our people a stake in creating the kind of work environment they want for themselves."
Ms Lim Loo Yee, country manager, NetApp Singapore