I am fortunate to have the opportunity of joining this company in year 2009, never expecting to have gained so much valuable experiences and it definitely feels great from the point of an employee as the companys culture is to imitate Capitamalls Asia successful 'Building People' practice. The company being a landlord to about 300 retail stores aims to become the number 1 retail mall in Orchard Road by offering a mix of luxury brands and mass market brands, also to provide premium customer service culture that set itself apart from other retail malls that will entice customers to return more often. In order to support the business strategy set by top management, the human resource department tapped on the Capitamalls Asia human resources by bringing in senior managers from other shopping malls that have extensive experiences on managing a retail mall and recruitment of managers from competitors. Support staffs that include customer service, building officers and technicians are newly recruited by undergoing a fair selection process. Human resources planning by the human resource department first have to identify the human resource needs, adequate manpower staffing, performing of job analysis based on the job requirements, and the job responsibilities and functions. The job advertisement with the details listed clearly is able to attract people from applying, potential job applicants will be enticed to apply for the job as compared to other job advertisement that seems too brief. An example of the comparison between two job advertisements is shown below,
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Job responsibilities are clearly stated
4 lines of job responsibilities also turn away potential job applicants who might find the job to be grey in truth
Undisclosed company name creates doubt whether is this a genuine job advertisement
Company is clearly identifiedion.JPGother.JPG
To ensure that a correct mix of employees with different skill sets, experiences and age can be recruited in order to support the company's functions. Human resource personnel will first conduct a telephone interview with a potential job applicant and followed by a background check of calling ex-employers / references of the candidate. After the initial process is completed, the candidate must undergo two rounds of interviews, first by department manager and human resource personnel then followed by senior management officers.
The interview sessions are not stressful as one might thought to be as the first few minutes of the interview is an ice breaker by the human resource personnel through engaging the potential candidate in casual talk before the self introduction and asking of questions begin. This is very effective especially for candidates without much interview experience, to be able to calm down and fully express himself / herself during the interview session with the bosses. Some simple questions on customer service standards such as "How do you show a customer a direction using hand gesture?" are posed to the candidate; this could ensure that the employees recruited already possess a customer service mindset which is in line with the company's business strategy of being a premium customer service retail mall. The entire recruitment process is based on tried and tested reliable recruitment methods, no fanciful or bias against the candidate as getting employed is based entirely on personal merits.
Shafique (2012) cites Holbeche Ask leaders what their biggest challenge is, and you get the same answer: finding attracting and keeping talented people. Ask talented people that what their biggest career challenge is and you will hear the same refrain: finding good people to work with - and to work for."
Training and development for new employees commences before the employee reports for work, compulsory attendance of tailor made premium customer service and telephone etiquette courses for all level of employees. Soon, S.L (2009) said during an interview that all our staff go through this (ION pride) programme and all our tenants go through the programme and it is compulsory. We all believe that only when we share a central message and central training can we deliver a differentiated level of service. This ensures that all new employees are equipped with the basic knowledge and skills to being a customer oriented staff.
The moment new employee reports on the first day of job he / she will be paired with a senior colleague for 2 weeks to undergo on job training. Besides on the job training process, supervisors will often walk the ground to ensure that the technique applied to accomplish the task is correct and in line with the operating procedures. Every year, every employee of the company is required to attend two training courses that are related to his / her work functions or for personal skills enhancement. The courses one can chose from must provided by training institutions pre-approved by human resource department, as for those employees who have no idea which course to attend can wait for human resource department to select for them and courses scheduled is compulsory. Any absentee from the course will have to pay back the course fees and attend the next session, such courses are beneficial to the employees and company as it add value to the employee and skills learnt can be applied either directly / indirectly to the employee course of work. Coget (2011) has mentioned in his research that companies should develop, and use valuable, inimitable, and non-substitutable resources to gain competitive advantage over their competitors. Human capital, which can be enhanced through training perfectly fits the bill as such a resource. Consistent with this, studies have shown that investment in training results in higher employee productivity, which in turns enhances company's financial and market performance.
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Human resource department encourages staff engagement and provides feedback / suggestion channels are transparent and open, if there is any feedback or concern the employee can log onto the staff discussion board which is similar to an online forum where your supervisors, managers or human resource personnel will answer your queries. The level of staff engagement through the discussion board is very active, as I believe most of the staff is shy to bring up issues face to face but through the utilisation of technology employees are more vocal to express their thoughts. Through this effective communication channel, level of employee dedication to the job and great suggestions are adopted to improve on work process which is also beneficial to the company.
For my case, I joined ION Orchard as an ION officer which the main job responsibilities comprise of customer service, security and safety and facility management. I am part of a 24 men crew, and attached to team A. Under the hierarchy of centre management office, also being the heart of any retail mall. The hierarchy structure offers direct and indirect supervision by managers and supervisors, as shown below.
The exposure one can receive is abundant, as I can be assigned to work with contractors on addressing building defects rectification this week and the following week I can be working with the housekeeping supervisors to ensure adequate manpower staffing by them and even direct supervision of the housekeepers in action to ensure the property is in good cleanliness shape. At times, I may also be called upon with a couple of colleagues to perform security escort service for visiting cabinet ministers, ministers and pop stars due to past working experience as a police officer. The level of employee empowerment is also great, citing one of the many examples that I have personally encountered. I happened to be in the ION command centre when the fire alarm triggered, and my team leader is out on lunch break. I took the initiative of being the incident commander as I have ever attended the Mount Faber Safra gas leak case as a first police officer on scene, I am able to redeploy available colleagues to reset fire protection curtains and shutters to minimize the inconveniences caused to shoppers and instructing the command centre staff to call Singapore Civil Defence Force and Orchard MRT station master to notify them of any updates. After the investigation of the alarm trigger point by my colleagues and the result is false alarm, all relevant parties are duly notified. Then I proceed to notify my team leader and building manager by call to inform them of a false alarm and details will be submitted through incident report. After which, my team leader commended me for good incident management. This definitely provided me with adequate opportunity of job enrichment, as anyone of my colleague is able to make decision and the rest of the team will follow without any questions asked.
Being a member of the pioneer ION officer team, I am also given equal opportunity of job recognition either though incentives in the form of gift vouchers or standing in as team leader. 6 months into the job, my team leader is promoted to executive and I am also promoted to lead team A. The selection of employees for promotion is a fair system, as not only inputs from direct supervisor and managers are taken into considerations but even other department colleagues whom I have the chance to work with during the course of my work that provides positive feedbacks to my managers are also taken into consideration during the promotion exercise.
The remuneration package that I receive when I joined ION Orchard is very attractive, that comprises of a guaranteed Annual Wage Supplement, group term insurance healthcare and dental benefits, flexible benefits of $1,000 with additional of $300 for married employees and up to a maximum of 4 children below the age of 18 that can be used to claim for a wide range of product or services as pre-approved by human resource department, merit pay in bonuses and pay increments and profit sharing for all employees. For top performing employees, he / she can expect to receive up to 6 months of bonuses that includes performance bonus and profit sharing for the year 2009. ION Orchard has achieve its business goals and objectives or can be said to be right on track during the initial opening year, top management has given a 1 month special bonus to all employees in recognition of the contributions made during the pre opening and grand opening stage. All this has proved to be very effective for ION Orchard as every employee is motivated to contribute to the company's business objectives on top of their job requirements. However, there are some who think it is only right for top management to give out fat bonuses as the company have made good profits and no amount of extra contribution they made is significant.
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Bullingery and Menrady (2002) have mentioned that an innovative remuneration practice will not offer standard solutions, but instead a tailor-made one that chooses an optimal way for the companies. The remuneration practice also has to be adapted faster to changing work organizations, so that the objectives of the employees and management of a company stay congruent. The characteristics of a sustainable remuneration practice will be increased dynamism and a more performance and profit-related, instead of pure skill-based pay.
A successful company place great emphasis on its employees, human resource department at times can be seen as an intermediary between top management and employees and it plays a crucial role in recruiting, training and retention of valuable human capital. Companies that realised this are often the market leaders in their own industry, for others who regard employees only as a tool are not harvesting the full potential of the human capital that they own. This would make the company susceptible to high turnover rates, and under-performing employees which in turn could be detrimental to the company's profits and sustainability in the long-run. Nowadays, employees are no longer deemed to be loyal and will switch jobs the moment they felt that they are treated unfairly or the company does not recognise their contributions made. Staff empowerment is a great tool that is often used by management, but most of the times managers can be seen as exploiting the subordinates especially when the term multitasking has been abused. Excessive workload dedicated to staff will only cause the staff to be demoralised and forego quality over quantity, therefore human resource guidelines must be set in place for all levels of employees by the human resource department to ensure that employees are contented and remain productive in order to contribute to the company's competitive strategy.