THE list of organisations which emerged as Hewitt Best Employers in Singapore 2007 debunks the myths that the best employers are big brand name organisations, pay their employers above the market rate and offer employees perks such as free yoga lessons, free lunches, meditation rooms for stressed-out executives and the like.

Get the right people

The Singapore Prisons Service (SPS), an agency under the Ministry of Home Affairs, is neither a brand name organisation nor does it have elaborate employee programmes in place.

Instead, SPS offers its employees and potential candidates a clear vision and mission. As its tagline "Captains of lives" suggests, SPS plays an instrumental role in steering its wards towards becoming responsible citizens with the help of their families and the community.

Focusing on "Rehab, Renew and Restart" enables SPS to achieve its vision and mission. Many of its programmes, such as the Yellow Ribbon Project, are aligned with these principles.

In addition, the agency ensures all their people practices, such as recruitment, learning and development, talent management, rewards and recognition, are aligned with the overall mission and vision.

SPS focuses its efforts mainly on recruitment to ensure that the right people are hired.

Tools such as psychometric tests are used to evaluate if candidates fit the organisation. Aligning people practices with the mission and vision is one of the keys to being a Hewitt Best Employer.

The companies on the list of last year's Hewitt Best Employers in Singapore put in place people practices that develop and reward employees consistently.

Staying competitive

In Built To Last, authored byJim Collins and Jerry Porras, it describes how visionary companies believe that "good enough, never is".

The same can be said for the Best Employer Award. It does not mean that the company has crossed the finish line and can now relax.

Competitors will replicate and mimic successful strategies, so the Best Employers' people practices and performance cultures are under constant scrutiny. Their leaders recognise that the bar is raised higher every year and ensure that they continue to keep their focus on people issues and how best to manage them.

Building trust

Singapore Food Industries (SFI) has consistently been recognised as a Best Employer.

Says its chief executive officer, Mr Roger Yeo Kok Tong: "The success of a company lies in its people, strong leadership and strong financial discipline.

"Being a Best Employer is more than providing your employees with a comfortable livelihood. It's also about creating value for their personal and professional lives."

SFI has created a culture of trust and openness where the management shares information with its employees.

It also works with educational and vocational institutes to train staff members and equip them with appropriate skills. Employees feel valued and build trust in the leadership of the company.

The Hewitt Best Employers in Singapore 2007 study found that 89 per cent of employees of Best Employers felt that their leaders are worthy of their trust, compared with 59 per cent of employees of other companies.

Some 87 per cent of employees of Best Employers trusted their senior leadership to balance between employee interests and those of the organisation, versus 58 per cent of those working with other companies.

Groom your staff

Another consistent Hewitt Best Employer is United Parcel Service (UPS) Singapore. Like SFI, its leadership team believes that its people are the pillars of their business.

There is a rigorous career management process where employees are given job rotation and relocation opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Positions are filled internally, where possible, and managers are encouraged to rotate their employees into front line and back office roles to enable them to acquire a holistic view of the business.

In 2006, 80 per cent of the company's senior management hires and 100 per cent of middle management hires were internal candidates.

Constant interaction between leaders and employees is a feature at UPS. The 'Talk, Listen, Act' process enables employees to provide feedback to their managers, who will read and take action.

Leaders also reach out to employees through the Pre-Work Communication Meeting (PCM), where employees receive key highlights relating to new service offerings, new promotions to customers, launching of new aircraft, changes in management and more.

The Hewitt Best Employers in Singapore 2007 study found that 94 per cent of employees of Best Employers have a good understanding of their organisation's goals, compared with 76 per cent working with other companies.

The experience of the Singapore Prisons Service, Singapore Food Industries and United Parcel Service Singapore and other Best Employers shows that creating a work experience that is aligned with the objectives of the organisation is fundamentally more important than embarking on faddish HR programmes.