In the article “The Silent War for Human Resource: Past and Future for the HR Organisation” (2004, SIM online), Peter Duke and Roland Rulz — co-writers and senior management in Hay Group Singapore, highlighted the transformation of human resource (HR) practice and management in organizations over the past 40 years worldwide. The authors have stated the initial understanding of HR policies, in general, as “largely administrative” and staff development in companies is “at best ad hoc and often based on favoritism” in the old days.
There is a need to override these conventional notions if we desire to develop tomorrow’s talents and leaders in business corporations to their fullest potential. This dramatic shift of HR practice in Singapore is necessary to allow a plethora of new HR practices to flourish. HR managers and executives can then venture beyond their means and apply new methods in selecting, developing and promoting employees for better performance management within their organizations in an ever-competitive corporate landscape.
Given the current economic downturn, the Singapore Human Resource Institute (SHRi) wants to address issues and challenges such as job redesign, wage restructuring and job competitiveness that employers and employees are faced with in the turbulent new economy.
Even as the global recession leads to retrenchment and massive layoffs, proficient HR professionals are required to implement policies that will enhance employees’ career performance in the long run. At the 11th World HR Congress and Business-Connect Exposition in 2006, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong challenged the HR community to be the agents of change to initiate people-development programs in companies to support business leaders in both local and international organizations.
Started in 2004 to recognize HR talents and celebrate work excellence in the HR industry, the HRM Awards — Singapore’s pre-eminent HR awards — are organized yearly by HRM magazine to honor worthy HR professionals and corporate leaders working in Singapore.
HRM magazine runs stories on people issues and company HR strategies used to bring about good business outcomes.
At the HRM Awards 2009 ceremony, SMRT Corporation Ltd (SMRT) emerged the leading company clinching three major HR awards: “Personnel Decisions International Award for Best Leadership Development”, “The Aviva Award for Best HR Team” and the “Kerry Consulting Award for Best HR Manager”. A public-listed company since July 2000, SMRT is Singapore’s world-class public transport provider.
Ng Lee Keng, manager for Talent Management & Employee Communications (SMRT), was one of six HR managers shortlisted for the Best HR Manager Award. She emerged the winner of the award, beating nominees from Shell Eastern Petroleum, IKANO/IKEA, Sentosa Leisure Management, Cold Storage Singapore, Royal Plaza on Scotts and National Heritage Board. Her win was determined by her ability to champion change, customizing strategies that add value to the company and meeting the business expectations of its stakeholders.
Indeed, being a HR professional is not for the faint-hearted. Despite the current uncertainties in the economy, HR managers and professionals have to take the lead and bring about a sense of hope and optimism to the staff by providing realistic measures of performance management, employment benefits and career advancement opportunities.
Ng Lee Keng is a member of City Harvest Church.