Singtel winning team

The Singtel story is not merely a company story, but one that is closely tied to Singapore's economy. Here's how the people & sustainability team, led by Aileen Tan, has made an impact.

Singtel’s history is closely tied to the rapid growth of the Singapore economy and innovations in telecommunications. Starting when phone services first became available, to its evolution from a government statutory board to a listed company and transformation to a communications technology company today, Singtel has come a long way in the last centennial.

At the 10th annual edition of HR Excellence Awards, Singapore in 2022, Singtel won several awards, all of them gold - in the categories of 'Excellence in Women Empowerment Strategy', 'Excellence in CSR Strategy', and 'Excellence in Learning and Development'.

In view of this achievement, we catch up with Aileen Tan, Group Chief People & Sustainability Officer, Singtel (pictured below) on the priority accorded to employee engagement, health and wellbeing, and diversity and inclusion, and how that has shaped its 'BIG' people strategy. 

Q Congratulations on the achievement! Could you take us through the highs-and-lows of your people strategy?

Guided by our Group purpose ‘Empower Every Generation’, we are committed to making a positive impact on our people and helping them reach their fullest potential.

This is why we have always prioritised employee engagement, health and wellbeing, and diversity and inclusion. We were therefore well-prepared for the pandemic’s challenges such as remote work and we further stepped up our efforts to support our people through the launch of programmes such as our holistic wellbeing programme 'iCare' in 2021.

More recently, we have seen technological evolution and the pandemic bring about even more changes to people’s priorities and their attitudes toward work. We are actively shaping our 'BIG' people strategy and employee experience to reflect these trends – fostering a strong sense of belonging so that our people bring their best selves to work, empowering our people to perform meaningful and impactful work, and providing our people with continuous growth opportunities personally and professionally.

We have already started on this BIG effort! For instance, we have raised our training budget by 33% from S$15mn in 2021 to S$20mn every year going forward. This will enable us to enhance our people development programmes to build an agile and future-ready workforce. We will strive to stay ahead of our people’s needs, to ensure Singtel continues to be a very special place to work for all our people.

aileen tan group chief people sustainability officer singtel

Q How did the HR team identify and align the business & employee needs, and craft out this perfect solution?

To understand our workforce’s changing needs and expectations, our leaders and HR team regularly engage our people and key stakeholders such as the Union of Telecoms Employees of Singapore through formal engagements such as pulse surveys and polls such as our annual 'Your Voice' Survey and gather feedback at key employee life cycle milestones such as during onboarding and work anniversaries.

In addition to formal, scheduled engagements, we strongly believe in informal sessions such as corridor conversations and casual catch-ups with our people, and this is something all our leaders practice. The formal and informal inputs collected help us ensure our policies remain relevant and enable us to identify issues early so that we can proactively refine or develop fresh policies and programmes to address any issues.

Q Could you share the results that your strategy has delivered?

Our policies and programmes to foster inclusion and diversity have enabled us to build a workforce with close to 100 nationalities and where women account for a third of all employees.

Our commitment to diversity and inclusion has been recognised by our people and validated by external stakeholders – 80% of our employees agree that Singtel is open and accepts individual differences, and Singtel is one of five companies in Singapore to be recognised in the 2022 Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index.

Q What is your message to all the stakeholders who have supported you in this journey?

We could not have achieved this without the dedication and hard work from everyone involved, from our HR teams to our leaders and staff who were unwavering in their support.

This will encourage us to work even harder to ensure every one of our people feels valued and included, where they feel a strong sense of belonging, and to make Singtel a place for people to do meaningful and impactful work and in the process grow professionally and personally.

Q What are you most excited about when you think about the future of HR?

The pandemic has driven home the importance of the HR function and how having the right people strategy enables organisations to attract the right talent, help them grow, and convince them to stay, so they can contribute to its success.

For Singtel, this is our BIG people strategy and I can’t wait to work with our leaders, my HR team and all our people to bring this strategy about so that the Singtel Group continues to Empower Every Generation to bring about a more inclusive and sustainable future for everyone. 


All photos / Singtel 

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