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What can we learn from Singapore-based employers when it comes to HR?


Singapore enjoys a well-deserved reputation as one of the most business-friendly places in the world, and it’s also far ahead of the pack if we are talking about best HR practices. Companies based out of this small country are consistently able to attract and retain the best professionals, which gives them a significant advantage in the global market. This ability can’t be fully explained with financial factors, as many companies in Australia are offering similarly lucrative salaries with considerably less success. In order to discover the secret behind the unexpectedly high loyalty among Singaporean employees, we need to look beneath the surface and understand the role played by company culture and data-based workforce management in this phenomenon.

Here are a few successful HR practices that Australian employers could try to apply in their own environment with some minor modifications:

Emulating best HR practices from both East and West

Singapore’s unique history and cultural identity is the main reason for its stability and prosperity. As a former British colony, it has deeply ingrained ties with the Western world, but as an independent Asian nation it also maintains strong bonds with the regional economic powers such as Japan and China. This creates an atmosphere where good HR practices from both sides are readily adopted and merged together into a truly eclectic mix. This dual connection results in a system where policies that produce good results are integrated into everyday practice without prejudice, based exclusively on their value for the company.

Focusing on character of the employee rather than raw talent

Most employers in Singapore are looking for candidates that can fit into the company based on their personal traits as much as on their professional skills. Relationships are valued very high in this part of the world, and consequently the employees usually develop a sense of belonging to an extended family of colleagues. Australian employers sometimes make the mistake of chasing the strongest CV regardless of the cultural fit, which can lead to difficulties later when managing the team or negotiating salaries. Putting more emphasis on intangibles and character will require a recalibration of the recruiting process, but the benefits more than justify the effort needed for this change.

Recruiting international candidates for high-end positions

A simple trick that many companies in Singapore are utilizing with a lot of success is to expand the pool of candidates by including foreign citizens who would be ready to relocate if hired. While this method is better suited for some industries than others, it makes a lot of sense when it comes to decision-making positions and uniquely talented individuals. Of course, Singapore’s highly urban identity and favorable tax structure help a great deal, so it would take a more proactive stance on the part of the national government (or at least local governments) to replicate this model in Australia.

Using software tools to streamline the selection process

While digitalization of HR functions is certainly not unique to Singapore, the level of commitment to a fully data-based HR model stands out. Installing the software is the easy part, adopting the right mindset is the true challenge that still befuddles many Australian employers who stick to old hiring policies despite the technological upgrade. Digital tools empower the employer to learn a great deal about the employee before the first meeting without having to spend too much time on research. Wholehearted adoption of digital technologies is imperative in the current marketplace, and HR departments across Australia should be looking to emulate foreign companies that use HR software extensively.


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