Singapore Land Authority's HR transformation revealed

HRM Asia speaks with Er Chye Har, Director of HR for the Singapore Land Authority, about the organisation's ongoing HR transformation


Er Chye Har

Director of HR

Singapore Land Authority


Why do so many HR teams and organisations need a full-scale transformation in the current business climate?

HR plays a prominent role in building future-ready organisations. To do that, we at Singapore Land Authority (SLA) believe that it requires a combination of “hardware” and “heartware”; hardware being technology, and heartware being people.

The rate of technological advancement in recent years has been astounding.  From the internet of things to autonomous vehicles; and from artificial intelligence to drones, these new technologies continuously challenge assumptions and change people’s way of life. While disruptive in nature, they also offer endless possibilities to transform the business and improve operational efficiency and effectiveness.

Like any other business function, HR can tap on the vast potential of technology to evolve our role and transform our service delivery. That said, technology alone is not enough. If we can combine technology with the human touch – which is what HR does best – it will be a marriage made in cloud heaven!

SLA is in the midst of such a transformation right now. What areas of change are you focusing on?

In transforming HR’s role from one that is primarily transactional to transformational, we develop our HR strategy to focus on two key areas :

a)    Enhancing Employee Experience, by walking the path of an employee from “entry to exit” and identifying the critical milestones in their career to create ‘wow’ moments for them.  In this respect, the desired outcome is to develop a highly-engaged workforce.  The more engaged your employees are, the more productive they will be.

b)    Enabling Employee Effectiveness, by equipping employees with the right mindset, training, development, and tools to harness the power of innovation and technology and then drive up productivity. The desired outcomes are to inculcate a learning and growth mindset and build a high-performing organisation.

What are some of the projects you have undertaken as part of this overhaul?

To translate our HR Strategy into action plans, what we did first was to map out the employee life cycle from “entry to exit”, identify the critical touch-points with employees (including potential employees) and determine the desired service delivery outcomes at the respective touch-points. The desired outcomes were aligned with the key focus areas of enhancing the employee experience and/or enabling employee effectiveness.

For example, one of the first touch points is at the talent acquisition stage. In the war for talent today, many organisations have been stepping up their game in employer branding. It is therefore necessary to think of creative ways to differentiate ourselves. We have explored the use of social media and technology tools in the past few years.

In early 2016, we launched the SLA360 VR video kit at recruitment and scholarship roadshows. By taking potential hires on a 360⁰ virtual reality tour of three iconic properties managed by SLA, it not only enabled them to understand SLA’s core businesses but also delivered an employer brand story through a unique and memorable experience.

Understanding the changing workforce profile and the trend toward consumerisation of technology, we have also started moving traditional HR transactional services onto a mobile platform. The Mobile Transport Claims app, launched in March 2016, was one of the first of its kind in the public sector. It taps on the Global Positioning System to capture the location and distance travelled and extracts public transport fares from SLA’s OneMap application to make the transport claims submission process hassle-free for employees. Employees like that it only takes three clicks for them to make a transport claim with the app. 

In implementing any change, we are bound to encounter naysayers or sceptics who do not believe in the cause or doubt the ability of the team to deliver the intended outcomes. In this case, communication and engagement with the key stakeholders play an extremely important part. To overcome the challenge, we articulated the HR strategy to the management team and key stakeholders at a very early stage, and solicited their inputs for the various projects undertaken.

With the strong commitment of the HR team and support from management, we pushed through the implementation of the projects at a relatively low cost and with no extra manpower. For the projects which required financial resources, we made pitches to secure budget from a centrally-managed Innovation Fund which serves to encourage experimentation and risk-taking in the organisation.

You’ll be presenting this case study as part of the HR Transformation 4.0 Congress on August 15 and 16, 2017. What lessons learned will you be imparting on the audience?

The key to successful implementation of a change is to take small steps at the start. For instance start with a proof-of-concept or prototype, and once you achieve some success in the small steps, take a bigger step forward. In the event that the initial steps fail, move on and work on alternative ideas.

In the process, it is equally important to keep everyone focused on the goals and help them learn from the journey. This is the way to embrace innovation and prepare our workforce to be future-ready!