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Case study: How the Singapore Land Authority reduced staff absenteeism rates

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The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) believes that people are the most important asset and a highly-engaged workforce has a direct impact on the productivity and performance levels of an organisation.

“With the entry of the millennials into the workforce, we have to manage a diverse workforce of four generations of employees in the same workplace today,” Er Chye Har, HR director at Singapore Land Authority says.

Er notes that the Millennials in SLA generally have relatively lower engagement scores and that their engagement drivers differ from that of the other generations.

“This means that we have to go beyond the traditional employee engagement platforms and initiatives to reach out to them and touch their hearts.”

“With the rapid proliferation of technology, we recognise embracing digital technologies is absolutely necessary to help employees stay engaged and productive.”

With an ambition to innovate and move HR’s role from merely transactional to transformational and manage talent more effectively to meet the strategic objectives of the organisation, SLA’s HR team implemented an integrated HR and finance system developed on the SAP platform to perform the transactional and administrative HR functions.

“Apart from focusing on the day-to-day HR operations, we also make it a point to continuously seek out new and emerging technologies to transform talent management practices and improve the employee experience.”

“In implementing HR technology solutions, it is important to bear in mind the need to strike a balance between achieving operational efficiencies and maintaining the personal touch,” Er points out.”

Read the full feature: HR digitisation: Reaching for the clouds

Apart from improving SLA’s biennial Employee Engagement Survey (EES) – conducted once in every two years –  to be in the band of the top 12 Highly-Engaged public sector agencies in 2014, the system also improved HR indicators such as voluntary staff turnover and absenteeism rates over the years – well below the Statutory Board median.

Additionally, it won SLA the Leading HR Practices in E-Human Resource Management at the Singapore HR Awards organised by SHRI.

“This award serves as a strong affirmation of our HR team’s efforts in leveraging on technology to improve our employee experience and prepare the SLA workforce to be future-ready. We also hope to inspire more HR professionals and organisations to transform HR practices using technology,” Er says.

“In implementing HR technology solutions, it is important to bear in mind the need to strike a balance between achieving operational efficiencies and maintaining the personal touch.”
– Er Chye Har, HR director at Singapore Land Authority

She notes that in order for any HR initiative to be effective and successful, the CEO and senior management team have to understand the business need driving it and the impact of the initiatives before they take ownership.

“In SLA, we make use of multiple communication channels such as management meetings, staff town hall sessions, CEO’s tea sessions with staff and CEO’s blog hosted on our Intranet to announce and explain HR initiatives.”

Despite that, SLA still faced two types of challenges – technical and non-technical.

“The primary technical challenge is that of data security.”

“This is a big hurdle for almost every organisation but we are determined not to let this deter us.”

To overcome this challenge, SLA’s HR team worked hand-in-hand with the IT Division to devise alternative solutions to mitigate the data security risks involved in the implementation of every project.

“The non-technical challenge is about gaining wide acceptance from our users on the digital HR solutions.”

Read the full feature: HR digitisation: Reaching for the clouds

To overcome this, SLA engaged the users and stakeholders at the very early stage of the project.

“By helping them understand the project objectives and intended benefits, they are more likely to support the project as well as give meaningful feedback for improvement.”

Er highlights that this engagement process cannot be just once-off.

“You have to make it an iterative process. Address and work on feedback received so that when the project is launched, they will accept it.”

“The key to successful implementation of a new project is to take small steps at the start, for instance start with a proof-of-concept or pilot project, and once it is successful, take a bigger step forward.

She emphasises that not giving up and trying new ideas is key to preparing the workforce to be future-ready.

Photo / 123RF

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