As a firm that is also passionate about D&I, AETOS saw a 50% increase in women in managerial roles, and a 300% increase in the total number of female employees in the last five years. Irene Tan, VP, Human Resource at AETOS, shares more.
At the Employee Experience Awards 2021, Singapore, AETOS received the gold award for Best Women Leadership Programme and the bronze for Best In-House Candidate Experience.
In this interview, Irene Tan, VP, Human Resource, AETOS, shares the secrets behind this win - how the organisation ensures every prospect has a fast and seamless job application process, as well as interview process that will benefit them in their employment hunt. All while ensuring diversity and inclusion is not neglected in its workforce.
Q Congratulations on bagging this award! What is your award-winning employee experience strategy that led to this win?
Ever since AETOS’ formation in 2004, our core belief has been that our greatest asset is - and always will be - our people. This belief gave us our competitive edge during our journey towards becoming one of the leading security and safety services providers in Singapore. Our workforce comprises many diverse and talented employees, and we harness their individual strengths and institutional and operational experience, while ensuring that they have an abundance of opportunities for skills and personal development so that they can grow further. We also make it a point to listen to them and make their wellbeing one of our key focuses.
This belief also directly informed the strategies and processes that brought us the wins in the Best Women Leadership Programme and Best In-House Candidate Experience categories respectively.
Q How did you and your team conceptualise and adapt this strategy to suit evolving workforce needs in the past year?
AETOS recognises that most of our potential candidates are increasingly looking for information online and would prefer to submit their applications online as well. This phenomenon was significantly accelerated by the onset of COVID-19, so we had to adapt and ramp up our strategies accordingly.
A great candidate experience starts with a seamless job search and developing a good understanding of the job roles and requirements.
We ensure that our mobile-friendly careers page on our website is constantly updated and gives a clear and accurate explanation of the job roles and responsibilities. Given that many Singaporeans were retrenched during this period, we also adopted an agile strategy to reach out to these potential job-seekers, pro-actively raising awareness of our recruitment efforts via various online platforms and SGUnited roadshows.
To reduce the risks of community transmission and for the wellbeing of our candidates, our recruitment team also quickly introduced virtual interviews via platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. This was instrumental in helping to keep pace with the hiring tempo to fulfil all the manpower requirements arising from the surge in the need for frontline officers to carry out enforcement duties due to the pandemic.
Our organisation’s commitment towards service excellence naturally extends to the recruitment process, and we strive to assist or benefit the candidate wherever possible. We place an emphasis on engagement with candidates – such as through sending out confirmation emails after their application submission, updating them on their application status regularly and in a timely manner, and conducting surveys to get their feedback and identify areas for improvement.
We also make it a point to inform the candidate as soon as possible if they are not shortlisted so that they can move on to exploring other career options, and where applicable, provide them feedback on how to improve their interview performance.
Q What challenges did you face along the way, and how did you overcome them?
The security industry in Singapore is heavily manpower reliant, and has been characterised by a persistent shortfall of officers over the past few years. Given the large number of competing service providers, recruitment within the industry itself is also characterised by fierce competition and is further affected by high attrition rates.
In this environment, recruiting and retaining employees is of paramount importance – and improving the employee experience is crucial to this.
As an integral part of the recruitment process and as the point where first impressions of the company are often formed, the candidate experience is therefore highly significant as well, and has become one of the focal points for improving the overall employee experience.
Potential recruits can be influenced by negative perceptions or preconceived notions about the security industry – such as the perceived lack of career prospects, or the idea that security work is mundane and lowly-regarded. In reality, security officers make invaluable contributions to national and our collective security and safety, and it is essential that candidates are provided a balanced and realistic viewpoint on the pros and cons of the industry. Our recruiters are trained to adhere to a structured interview flow, where they lay out the importance of the work, as well as the responsibilities and expectations it involves. This helps to ensure that candidates are aware of the value of their work, and helps to foster pride and boost morale from the get-go. Candidates are also introduced to our comprehensive Training and Development framework, and the wide variety of upskilling and development opportunities we have in place to ensure both their career development and personal growth.
The security industry in Singapore has also traditionally been predominantly male-centric, with work in this line often being perceived as a job for men, given the nature of the work and the masculine qualities that are generally associated with security and enforcement – and by extension, success in this industry.
Believing that an inclusive and diverse workforce encourages collaboration, innovation, and higher performance, we set out to increase gender diversity at all levels of the company, identifying middle management as an area that needed more representation from women – especially among uniformed officers, who form the bulk of our workforce.
By launching a curated leadership programme aimed at identifying potential female leaders and investing in their learning and development, we were able to create a culture of leadership development and continuous learning. Our prospective female leaders acquired critical knowledge and skills, which enabled them to perform their roles better, and facilitated their selection and progression to new managerial positions.
Q How did the strategy add to the overall employee experience in your organisation, in terms of ROI? Any achievements you’d like to show off?
Since we introduced our women leadership programme, there has been a distinct increase in the number of female employees, as well as those in managerial positions. For example, 30% of corporate senior management positions are now held by women, compared to none just five years ago.
During that same period, there has also been a 50% increase in women in managerial roles, and a 300% increase in the total number of female employees (1,231 as of 2020).
One of our major recruitment initiatives – Recommend A Friend (RAF) – directly involves employees across the organisation and accounts for almost 40% of our new hires. Hearing directly from current employees can be a game-changer for recruitment, and it is both heartening and validating when they recommend the company to their friends and family.
Q What is the most exciting and valuable thing about being part of (and winning at!) the debut Employee Experience Awards?
Not only do these wins validate our efforts in improving our employee experience, we are also inspired and further encouraged to maintain our commitment towards continuous improvement, and keep striving to do better. This also includes being exposed to other winning ideas and being able to learn about the best practices and strategies employed by a diverse range of organisations across industries, giving us fresh perspectives and approaches to HR matters.
Q Looking ahead, what else do you have planned as you continue to enhance the overall employee experience?
We intend to focus on increasing our awareness of the morale and sentiments of our employees, especially among our frontline security officers. To supplement our annual engagement survey, we plan to introduce additional surveys at other points of the year to gauge if meaningful progress has been made, or if there are new issues need to be addressed.
Developing a robust system to promote awareness of and look after our employees’ mental health is also a key focus of our organisation.
By training and appointing first-response wellbeing coaches, as well as hosting webinars that raise awareness of mental health issues, we aim to ensure our employees are more comfortable with seeking help or a listening ear should they need one, and that they are aware of the measures in place to assist them.
We are also continuing to enhance our learning and development framework for employees to include clear succession planning and career plans, especially for our uniformed officers. This will help ensure that they gain both breadth and depth of work experience and are able to contribute higher value work while developing their own careers.
Q Do share some tips to inspire your peers who are working on their EX strategies and would love to participate in the awards next year.
The key is to understand the needs of your employees and tailor your policies and strategies to meet them accordingly. Employees carrying out different types of work and at different points of their careers will naturally have different concerns and aspirations, and it is important to develop a set of robust employee experience strategies that can take these into account.
Q Lastly, to end on a fun note – if you could describe the employee experience at your organisation in one sentence, what would that be?
A rewarding journey of opportunities – for continuous personal and professional development, and to make a positive impact on those around you.
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Read more interviews on why organisations have won trophies for their HR practices - head over to our Winning Secrets' section!