Homegrown commercial laundry provider Zero Spot Laundry Service Pte Ltd has been in business for 25 years, providing large-scale integrated laundry solutions to clients that include hotels and serviced apartments in Singapore and throughout Asia. Since its inception, it has grown from just seven staff to an impressive workforce of 350. While the years have proven fruitful for the company, the management began to realise that a solid HR framework was necessary to take the company to the next level of growth.

"We had the basic essentials like payroll, leave and administration, but we came to realise that in order to attract and retain talent, and build a team for our future, we really need a sound HR structure," explains Zero Spot's CEO Mr Alex Teo.

To kick-start its efforts, the company turned to SPRING Singapore's self-help HR Capability Toolkit that comprises tools, templates and guidelines to help local SMEs implement solid HR systems. Leveraging this, the company wanted to delve deeper and customise and implement some of the toolkit modules through more complex projects. For this, it tapped the Capability Development Grant (CDG) that supports SMEs for up to 70 per cent of qualifying project costs, such as the engagement of external consultants for HR capabilities development.

Having identified that it needed a system to appropriately reward employee performance, one of the first things the company embarked on was creating a new remuneration package for its employees. "In the past, many of our operators earned a basic salary and relied on overtime pay to make more money," Mr Teo explains. "We wanted to change that mindset in order to improve employee satisfaction and productivity."

With the help of a HR consultant , the company developed a structured performance-reward system for its laundry floor operators. This gives operators a better pay scale with a variable component pegged to their performance in six specific areas such as machine cleanliness, safety awareness and practice, and record keeping. "While it was hard to implement at first," admits Mr Teo, "we saw productivity improve by 10 per cent in a year."

Additionally, the company developed and implemented a job grading system which ensures that all staff at the same level enjoy the same salary brackets. At the same time, it established a learning and development framework that helps employees grow their skill sets so that they can advance through their career paths with the company.

"It's a very clear framework in which every employee and supervisor knows how many training hours they must fulfil," says Mr Teo. "It is a simple policy, but it is very effective."

As part of this framework, the company's HR department came up with over 30 different training programmes that include on-the-job training for various processes, supervisory training and even language skills. "Even members of management are required to fulfil training hours," he adds.

Already, the company has seen a slight improvement in its staff turnover rate between 2012 and 2013. And Mr Teo says that, "naturally, there is still room for improvement."

"As we grow, we continually recognise how important human capital is for our business, but we also realise that it requires a lot of planning. We are looking forward to learning the right strategies for our HR success.

To take the first step forward, SMEs may download the free self-help HR Capability Toolkit at http://www.hrcapability.sg/tool-kit/ to help them systematically manage HR functions in 8 key HR areas:

•Manpower Planning
•Recruitment and Selection
•Compensation and Benefits
•Performance Management
•Learning and Development
•Career Management
•Talent Management & Succession Planning
•Employee Relations
For more complex projects, SMEs can tap the Capability Development Grant (CDG), which supports up to 70 per cent of qualifying costs.

For more information, visit www.spring.gov.sg/CDG , call 6898 1800 or email enterpriseone@spring.gov.sg