The team at Futuready Asia took home the bronze award for 'Best Management Training Programme' at the Employee Experience Awards 2022, Singapore.
On the achievement, we speak to Delane Lim, Executive Director, Character & Leadership Academy (Futuready Asia Singapore); and Practicing Management Consultant with Singapore Business Advisors & Consultant Council who tells us its management trainees' success is not just about personal happiness and efficiency; it is confirmation that the system works – from the recruitment process through to the training.
Q Congratulations on the achievement! Could you take us through the highs and lows of your winning strategy?
We are honoured to be recognised for our effort in developing one of the best management trainee programmes in our social and education sector. Partners and clients often affirm us on our quality of training delivery in leadership development and facilitated experiential learning. Management training programmes are necessary for enhancing one’s capabilities and sharpening leadership-managerial skills.
A big 'sell' for management trainee programmes is job rotation. And with good reason. When one is fresh out of university, it may not be always clear what they want to do. A job they thought they wanted could turn out to be a pain. But job rotation puts one in a different job function every three to six months allowing you to get first-hand experience and decide whether it is right for you or not.
Our management trainee programme is the master craftsman to the unpolished diamond that is the graduate fresh out of school. School teaches us the academic stuff, equips us with knowledge, expands our minds, and gives us glimpses of working with others, but it barely scratches the surface of reality and working life. Management training programmes fill in the gaps and bring you up to speed with what you need to know, and how to maximise and apply what you already know.
Our management trainees' success is not just about personal happiness and efficiency; it is confirmation that the system works – from the recruitment process through to the training. So, we work hard to get the right people in and then groom them into the kind of talent that will keep our and clients' HR pipeline well-stocked and well-run.
To do this, it pulls out all the stops. Think classroom training, on-the-job exposure, mentorships, soft and hard skills, and international work experience.
Within the ecosystem of a company, management trainees likely get the best (if not, among the best) career development resources.
Q Understanding and meeting your employees’ needs and expectations is never an easy feat. How did Futuready Asia identify the business & employee needs, and craft out the perfect solution?
To identify both business and employee needs, we must first set clear expectations for each role within our business and our sector. This creates a benchmark to monitor performance. Review job descriptions when new positions are created, or when making substantial changes to existing roles. Remember to periodically account for smaller changes as well. Doing this makes it easier to understand what skills an employee needs if they are to be successful in each role. And in turn, this helps us identify skills gaps and potential training and development needs.
Giving employees the opportunity to lead their personal development can have a profound effect on their motivation and their engagement in your business. Well-managed personal development plans improve communication and will also help us identify any relevant training and development needs.
Q How did the strategy add to the overall employee experience in Futuready Asia?
Our management traineeship platforms are a useful tool to help us identify needs within our business. They are a useful way of gathering employees’ views and opinions about current training and how to improve what is on offer. Focus groups also help demonstrate that we are genuinely interested in our employees' opinions. To cater to employee and business needs, we must find the right balance of structure and flexibility as well. Employees need clear, defined parameters for their mission, ways of working, and communication to fully sync with their teammates and with our higher-level business objectives.
By doing so, we are in a better position to attract the right talent and retain remarkable human capital, allowing us to understand the workforce better through the management associate/traineeship framework.
Pictured: Delane Lim at Employee Experience Awards 2022, Singapore.
Q Could you offer some recommendations to your peers across industries on implementing something similar for their own EX foundation?
Each plan for each anticipated business scenario hinges on an effective and prepared future workforce. HR must take the lead in proactively developing a workforce strategy that can withstand any possible scenario. But that can’t happen in a silo: HR needs to be present and active in business and scenario planning meetings to understand the challenges the business faces and how strategic talent management can help solve those problems.
Business scenarios outline the potential future climates companies may need to operate in, including long-term economic, political, public health, and labour market possibilities. The business must anticipate multiple scenarios ranging from ideal circumstances to worst-case scenarios.
It's important for HR to think out of the box, observe trends, and analyse what's going on in the world that could affect the workplace and its employee. As people connect every aspect of the business, HR is in an excellent position to bring together key stakeholders and facilitate scenario planning meetings. HR needs to work with colleagues in leadership to develop people plans for each contingency.
Integrating business scenario planning with HR helps HR leaders be more aware of external forces affecting the business. Drafting and implementing your scenario plans can help you better understand the business strategy and priorities.
As we move forward, don’t lose your voice in business planning, or allow the business to become complacent. Build scenario planning into your executive team’s regular meetings.
Over the next few years, HR professionals will redefine what 'normal' means for our companies, but we can only do that by anticipating what the future holds. Scenario planning is essential to your business and for HR’s ability to steer our organizations toward a brighter future.
Q If you were to reflect, what is one thing you’d do differently in executing this strategy?
Understanding the motivation of new/future workforce. Recognising their life priorities and what they stand for will allow us to better develop and conduct our management traineeship programmes.
Q Looking ahead, how is Futuready Asia going to take this winning strategy higher and further in the coming years?
One of the management traineeships will include modules on Mental Health @ Workplaces. Mental health in the workplace is top of mind for everyone these days. While our understanding of mental health at work is changing, and how widespread poor mental health is, it's worth looking at the basics.
Supporting mental health in the workplace is no longer a nice-to-have but a necessity. Creating wellness solutions to help their employees thrive is the first step. Positive mental health at work helps teams remain agile when changing roles and responsibilities or taking up the workload. It helps employees thrive in their roles, and manage stress and pressure. Ultimately, it allows each individual to reach their highest potential.
As the lead champion for this mental health space, it is important that workplace mental health is discussed at the professional work level, creating a safe space for employees at all levels to communicate openly without discrimination is crucial. Without this, we risk losing out on valuable feedback that could help us retain valuable talent.
Pictured: Delane Lim and trainees at the HREAP Lecture Series held in the Philippines.
Q 10 years down the line, where do you see the future of HR?
Mental health and wellness are hot-button topics right now, and for good reason. Employers are aware, now more than ever, of the importance of employee wellbeing and its impact on business success.
During stressful and uncertain times like now, employee wellbeing is likely to decrease or fluctuate. Employers and HR staff will therefore have to focus on improving employee wellbeing while they adapt to the 'new normal' in 2022.
Small businesses like ours will have to step up to support our employees’ wellbeing and engagement, likely in ways they haven’t had to before. We will have to find ways to create a flexible and healthy work environment and support mental wellbeing.
Business leadership can help improve their employees’ health and wellness by maintaining transparency and clear communication with their organisation.
Make sure that people aren’t getting too mentally drained, exhausted, or burnt out by having conversations so you know how your team is feeling, as well what they’re doing.
Small business owners like us will have to lead by example – take the time for self-care and set boundaries and expectations so our team can follow suit.
Photos / Provided