Rethinking Skills Improvement: Empowering Employees to Drive Innovation, Business News & Top Stories

When Mr. Abdul Subhan walks into his workplace at the Royal Plaza on Scotts hotel, he does so with his head held high.

At 67, he rarely felt more relevant, respected and re-energized. He attributes it to another “R” word: relearn.

During his 46 years at the hotel, he has always embraced learning to stay relevant. It has been gratifying; He went from technician to assistant chief engineer in the space of 35 years by taking engineering courses and pursuing a diploma in management processes.

The latest change in his journey of rediscovery? Learn to manage security incidents, including terrorist threats, last year.

“Hotels have merged tasks between teams such as concierge and security,” observes Mr. Subhan. “(But) the initiative to merge engineering and safety is a first, and it’s interesting to see this development.”

“I appreciate the opportunities to learn and grow with the organization. “

Her employer played a big role in empowering her quest for growth.

This is part of the Royal Plaza on Scotts’ commitment to developing its’ human capital ‘, especially during difficult times, explains Ms Juliana Ong, director of culture and human capital at the hotel.

According to data from the Singapore Tourism Board, hotel occupancy rates stood at 63% in September, well below the 87% in September 2019.

Despite the pandemic lull, Royal Plaza on Scotts remains resilient. He has avoided laying off staff and instead focuses on helping them grow.

“We strongly believe in developing skills in various functions and departments so that our employees can remain ready, relevant and resilient at all times,” says Ms. Ong.

Re-energized, Mr. Subhan is now helping the hotel design a training program to equip engineering employees with safety skills. The pilot initiative was developed with support from the Center for Workplace Learning and Performance (CWLP) of the Institute for Adult Learning.

The CWLP aims to create a culture of learning in all businesses in Singapore. The center serves as a consultant, helping companies like Royal Plaza on Scotts identify learning gaps and design programs to promote employee-driven innovation.

As businesses grapple with the effects of the pandemic, businesses win when they invest in their people.

A recent study by SkillsFuture Singapore, a statutory council under the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Trade and Industry found that for every 10 percent of the local workforce sent for training, companies reaped 0.7 percent higher income on average each year, up to three years after training.

But there are challenges. While 99% of employees believe learning and development programs are crucial, NTUC LearningHub’s Workforce Learning in Workplace Transformation 2021 report found that current programs leave a lot to be desired.

Some of the main reasons employees find current training programs to be poor include limited training topics and irrelevant modules.

By employees, for employees

So how can companies ensure that they are successfully improving and re-qualifying their employees? For some companies, the answer is simple: let employees drive innovation.

“One of our employee engagement strategies is to constantly nurture and develop our employees through professional challenges,” said Ms. Ong.

Mr. Subhan worked with a CWLP Workplace Learning Specialist to design the scope of work, skills and challenges of a new role: Technician and Safety Officer.

Together, they developed the master plan for on-the-job training.

“It was a great opportunity for us to transform processes and create meaningful jobs for our employees,” says Ms. Ong. “(The engineering team) saw an opportunity to improve their skills and safeguard their career during the pandemic.”

Since the project started last January, around half of the engineering team have obtained their security license from the Singapore Police Department.

Encouraged by the results, Ong says the hotel plans to expand this cross-learning program for reception and catering teams.

Another company that believes in cross training is professional services firm Deloitte.

With employee input, Deloitte’s Financial Advisory branch worked with CWLP to develop a training exercise for their team.

“We want to equip our employees with cross-service capabilities and allow them to share ideas and co-create innovative solutions so that we can transform the way we work and serve our clients,” said Mr. Keoy Soo Earn, advisor financial. Regional Managing Partner, Deloitte South East Asia.

Skills upgrading and job redesign must be done with foresight to help employees stay relevant, said Keoy Soo Earn, regional managing partner of financial advisory, Deloitte Southeast Asia. PHOTO: DELOITTE

The training exercise combined some employee positions from the Merger and Acquisition Transaction Services (MATS) and Valuation and Modeling (V&M) business units.

It is a sensible step. Before the financial year, certain processes within the Financial Consulting activity were duplicated by employees of both teams, specifies Mr. Keoy.

For example, teams used to manually enter the same set of a client’s financial figures into data books that were kept separately.

By merging the two teams and introducing a single-source data book with automated dashboards, efficiency and productivity can naturally increase.

Grow together as one

Merging teams, however, can be difficult, especially in an age of remote working and limited face-to-face interactions.

An October 2020 survey conducted by the US think tank Pew Research Center found that 65% of employees felt less connected to their colleagues due to work-from-home arrangements.

Developing camaraderie between the two teams was what Deloitte had to do as part of their distance training exercise.

“Change is never easy,” says Keoy. “While our employees recognized the importance of upgrading skills and retraining, it took effort to step up and embrace the change. “

“For example, a MATS team leader might not have been very convinced that a member of the V&M team would look beyond their evaluation mindset to work on the due diligence aspects. of the project, and vice versa, “he adds.

To foster trust, Mr. Keoy ensured that employees had the opportunity to work together on projects and interact with their teammates on the other unit.

About 15 percent of MATS and V&M team employees volunteered to participate in the pilot training exercise. They are now working in their new inter-departmental roles.

Mr. Hoo Jiunn Yih, Director of Financial Advisory, Deloitte Singapore, is one of the employees who benefited from the training. “After the exercise, our team became more efficient on analysis, which allowed us to have more clarity and better understand transactions when executing financial due diligence and evaluation projects. ‘business. “

“I look forward to honing our skills as we work on other projects as I believe it will help all of us to better serve our clients and advance our careers,” Hoo adds.

The training exercise will be extended to the Singapore team and other selected teams in Southeast Asia.

For Keoy, the project is built on three pillars: ideas and gaps identified in previous projects, open communication with employees on how to improve work processes, and the independent and impartial perspective of the CWLP.

“CWLP came to conduct independent interviews with our employees so that we could get an unbiased view of what our employees thought about the exercise,” he says.

Mr. Keoy emphasizes the importance of such programs for survival: “Upgrading skills and reshaping jobs must be done with foresight so that our employees can remain relevant in today’s dynamic marketplace, especially so that organizations focus on transformation to thrive in the new normal ”.

Urgent need to be relevant

The nationwide initiative to upgrade skills and retrain employees has never been more urgent. The real threat of losing his job amid an overwhelming pandemic made him extremely important.

A report released by the Ministry of Trade and Industry last week revealed the devastating impact of Covid-19 on livelihoods in Singapore. By the third quarter of this year, the country’s total employment had fallen by a total of 196,400. More than half of these jobs were lost during the cutoff period in the second quarter of 2020.

However, the labor market is showing signs of recovery.

The latest labor market report from the Ministry of Manpower notes that total employment has declined at a “considerably slower rate”: 3,400 jobs were lost in the third quarter of 2021, compared to 16,300 in the second. trimester.

Workforce Minister Tan See Leng said earlier this month: “As our economy restructures and recovers from Covid-19, our workforce needs to develop the right skills for meet the changing needs of industries and businesses. “

This functionality is brought to you by the Institute for Adult Learning.

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