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Marina Bay Sands uses a number of unique tools – including an in-house TV show – to aid the learning and development of its staff, says Chan Yit Foon, senior vice president of human resources. 

At Marina Bay Sands, training and development are integral parts of its daily operations. To build a human capital framework for more than 9,400 team members spanning more than 100 departments with diverse functions can get very complex.

Its HR team is guided by a very simple principle – the key to success lies in developing its team members’ qualifications, competencies and talents. A well-trained workforce will reap tangible benefits, such as increased productivity, better teamwork and, more importantly, happy and satisfied guests.

A robust human capital framework
Given the size of the Marina Bay Sands’ workforce, its HR team has built a robust human capital framework that is applicable for all team embers. This framework is scalable, multi-layered and incorporates a nuanced learning and development programme.

Underpinning this framework is a matrix that maps team members against their potential and skills. The HR team works closely with the line managers and department heads of different business units to identify the learning needs of high potential individuals and to provide for them in their training classes.

In the human capital framework, a performance management system is also used to identify talent, and tailored training courses and career progression paths will then be provided for them.

Proprietary training programme: The Heart of Service 

The development of relevant, up-to-date training programmes at Marina Bay Sands is also important. The integrated resort has developed, and is currently rolling out a proprietary training programme, Heart of Service, which focuses on building a unique Marina Bay Sands’ service culture.

Before the soft launch of the Heart of Service in August 2012, the programme was rigorously tested by department managers, trainers and course developers to ensure the content reflected the ethos of Marina Bay Sands’ unique service culture. Its HR department is also in the process of mapping Heart of Service to WSQ frameworks.

The long-term goal is for all Marina Bay Sands’ team members – whether they are customer-facing or work behind the scenes – to undergo this training programme. Accompanying this training are regular team member engagement initiatives, where timely tips on Marina Bay Sands’ service culture are delivered through fun and interactive ways via internal communications channels and social media tools.

Innovative training: The Service Challenge

In 2012, Marina Bay Sands rolled out its first ever reality TV-styled training tool, The Service Challenge. This innovative in-house training programme was entirely conceptualised, scripted and produced in-house. The 10-episode programme was designed as a coaching device to educate team members about different service roles and standard operating procedures in the massive integrated resort.

The Service Challenge started in late 2011 with a pilot episode, “In-room Dining”. A total of 70 team members auditioned and, in every episode, three chosen contestants from different departments went through a one-day crash course to then be put to different tasks, such as taking on valet, housekeeping and concierge roles, which they had never done before.

Team members then cast their votes for their favourite three winners after nine episodes, and these finalists went on to compete in the grand final. Al Nathaniel Ongsuco, a food and beverage captain, impressed the judges with his passion for service and emerged the overall “Service Champion”.

This innovative training tool is entertaining, easily understood by anyone in the company and most importantly, encourages cognitive learning. The one-day crash courses shown in the series are also mapped to WSQ training modules so they can be applied in real life.

Since the internal screening of the series in February 2012, it has captivated the team members of Marina Bay Sands and created much excitement and buzz.

About 4,000 team members (45% of the full-time workforce) voted for their favourite contestants. A 31% increase in its internal Magnificent Social Network group – where online voting was conducted – was also seen. This is a testament to how The Service Challenge achieved its aim of cultivating a closer bond among employees.

Marina Bay Sands will continue to invest and groom its next-generation of future leaders. As a WSQ in-house Approved Training Organisation since 2009, the integrated resort has given more than 34,000 WSQ certificates to its trained team members.

In 2012, Marina Bay Sands invested more than 1.1 million hours of training for its team members. Just in 2011 alone, its HR L&D team collaborated closely with training experts to conduct a total of 1,322 courses, an 89% increase from 2010.

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