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Helping SMEs Attract And Retain Talent1

Human Capital Movement: Helping SMEs attract and retain talent

Human resource is crucial not only in sustaining day-to-day operations but also in securing the future of your business. As such, hiring the right people for your business is vital.

You peruse applicants’ curriculum vitae, ask the right questions during the interview, find out potentials, and check their compatibility the job requirements and finally, hire people you think are fit to be part of your company. What happens next after building your team? Retaining employees is just as important as hiring qualified people.

More than the ease of starting a business in Singapore, the quality of the workforce is a contributing factor in making the city-state an ideal and highly conducive place for enterprises. In 2014, Singapore was given the highest ranking by the US-based research institute Business Environment Risk Intelligence Report in terms of employee productivity and overall attitude.  The government’s focus on knowledge-based economy resulted in an influx of skilled talents within the city and across different regions in the world.

According to the 2014 Global Competitiveness Report, an annual report that is published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) that measures competitiveness landscape of 140 economies, Singapore has the best labour-employer relations in the region and at the second spot globally.

Yet manpower remains one of the most common concerns of small and medium-sized enterprises in Singapore. With the tight labour market, SMEs struggle to stay competitive while balancing the scales of growing a business and improving their human capital. More often than not, investing in the development of employees is not on top of the list of priorities. Many companies resort to hiring more staff to address manpower shortages rather than exploring and developing the potential of existing team members.

In line with these issues, the Standards, Productivity, and Innovation Board (SPRING Singapore) partnered with Hay Group and conducted a study on the maturity of 180 SMEs by using an HR Diagnostic Tool. The results showed that majority of the participating SMEs have weak HR practices especially in the area of Training and Development. A press release published by SPRING Singapore mentioned that while SMEs acknowledge the significance of human capital development, they are often inhibited by their HR capability and capacity. More so, most of the HR professionals in SMEs often take on transactional activities like processing work or handlings payroll.

In an effort to address this gap, SPRING Singapore launched the aptly named Human Capital Movement in SMEs with the goal of creating a shift in mindset toward the importance of developing talent management and HR capabilities not only to attract but also retain skilled, qualified employees. Among its key objectives are constructing a community of SME human capital advocates, supporting human resource capability building, and improving SME branding.

During his opening speech at the programme’s launch event, then Minister of Manpower’s Mr. Lim Swee Sway highlighted the value of human resources. “To do well, SMEs need to make their investment in people a core priority. Their capacity to grow will be constrained by the human capital they have built.”

The programme presents a lot of opportunities for SMEs to develop and improve the potential of their Human Resource including the following:

– By using SPRING’s HR Diagnostic Tool, SMEs can assess and identify the weakness of their HR capabilities at no cost.

– SMEs can get talent management mentorship from one of Singapore’s skilled HR Directors.

– Participating in programmes initiated by SPRING that seeks to not only recruit but also, retain young talents.

Helping SMEs attract and retain talent

In light of this initiative, SPRING Singapore recruited 10 Human Resource Directors from private and public sectors. These HR Directors have generously offered their time to counsel and mentor SME leaders in the area of talent development. Foo Chek Wee, Zalora Southeast Asia’s Group HR Director, is among the group of HR Directors who will share their learnings and experiences on human resource best practices and facilitate peer-learning activities for SMEs. He shared his thoughts on the programme in an interview with Channel News Asia that “SPRING Singapore has arranged for us to have regular sessions, be it in learning forums or in one-on-one sessions with the CEOs. I think it’s really useful for both parties to learn from one another.”

In implementing the Human Capital Movement in SMEs programme, the government in partnership with industry partners such as the Trade Associations and Chambers and the Institutes of Higher Learning seeks to encourage SMEs to upgrade their HR capabilities and become good employers to the workforce of Singapore. SMEs can generate sustained support in the upgrade of their HR Capabilities by applying for the Capabilities Development Grant.