Human Resources

How to Increase Workplace Diversity

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Promoting workplace diversity has many bottom line benefits. But you need to approach the hiring process holistically — retaining employees can be more difficult than recruitment. This is especially true for companies in less diverse regions where relocated minority employees may feel disconnected. You may need to take a more active role in helping them adjust to the culture at work as well as in their new communities.

First, identify what your needs are. Does your workforce resemble the communities that you operate in? Do they match the demographic that you serve or want to serve? If not, develop a hiring strategy to increase workforce diversity.

Talk to local organizations with community connections, including churches, cultural institutions and colleges. They can help you connect with candidates. You can also enlist help from nonprofits like the Urban League, the National Council of La Raza or from websites like diversityworking.com that offer searchable channels of minority job hunters. But don’t limit yourself to local chapters or schools. If you have something to offer out-of-area workers, expand your search to other cities, states or countries. The Internet makes it easy to cast a wide net.

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How to Motivate Workers in Tough Times

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When times are tough, and everybody at work is nervous, managers must help employees stay engaged, focused and motivated. A memo won’t suffice.

No team-building exercise or pat on the back can completely restore workplace confidence. But here are a few ways to help maintain productivity:

Everybody handles stress differently, so managers need to take a one-on-one approach. Talk informally with employees to find out what each needs to stay on track.

Keep your door open. Employees may need frequent assurances. Give them access to your time and be honest with them. Don’t be evasive or promise anything you can’t fulfill. Be candid but also let them know there are things you can’t discuss.

Don’t bear down on employees because you’re stressed out. Ordering employees around like a drill sergeant is counterproductive. Offer direction while allowing employees to come up with their own processes.

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How to Manage Different Generations

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Managers are increasingly grappling with generational differences in their work forces. Problems can arise from differing mindsets and communication styles of workers born in different eras. The frictions may be aggravated by new technology and work patterns that mix workers of different ages in ever-changing teams.

Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are competitive and think workers should pay their dues, workplace consultants say. Gen Xers, born between 1965 and 1977, are more likely to be skeptical and independent-minded. Gen Ys—also known as Millennials—were born in 1978 or later and like teamwork, feedback and technology.

The key is to be able to effectively address and take advantage of the differences in values and expectations of each generation. But experts say managers must be careful not to follow blanket stereotypes. Managers must also take care not to disadvantage older workers, even inadvertently, or risk retention problems and legal headaches.

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How to Keep Your Most Talented People

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Adapted from “The Wall Street Journal Guide to Management” by Alan Murray, published by Harper Business.

In 1943, social scientist Abraham Maslow outlined a pyramid that showed what he called the human being’s “hierarchy of needs.”

People start with a desire for basic physiological needs: food, clothing, shelter – that’s the bottom of the pyramid. Once they’ve achieved those, they seek safety, and then social interaction and love, and then self-esteem. Finally, at the top of the pyramid, is what Maslow called “self actualization” – the need to fulfill one’s self, and become all that one is capable of becoming.

In the early days of the study of management, Frederick Winslow Taylor wrote that what workers most want is high wages – which would help them fulfill their basic physiological needs. But it’s fair to say today, most workers – and particularly your best workers – have made their way to the top of Maslow’s pyramid.

“Making a living is no longer enough,” wrote management guru Peter Drucker. “Work also has to make a life.” If you want to keep good people, their work needs to provide them with meaning – a sense they are doing something important, that they are fulfilling their destiny. At the end of the day, these psychological needs are likely to be as important, and perhaps more important, than the salary you pay.

To keep your best people, then, you need to make sure they are personally committed to the goals of the organization, and that they feel those goals are worth achieving. And you need to make certain they feel they are playing a suitably significant role in reaching those goals.

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Going Places With MFA

Do you fancy the thought of living and working in a foreign country? Two Foreign Service Administration Specialists in the MFA share how it is like working in the Ministry.
By Farhan Shah

MFA strives to be a foreign service that excels and is effective and efficient in advancing Singapore's strategic, political, economic and other interests; and providing worldwide consular assistance and protection for Singaporeans abroad. In pursuit of its mission, MFA looks for individuals to join the Ministry as Foreign Service Administration Specialists to serve at Singapore's overseas missions as part of the diplomatic corps.

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Applicants' Personalities Put to the Test

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by Toddi Gutner
April 24, 2009

Armed with an M.B.A. from Arkansas State University, 24-year-old Dana Lund figured she had what she needed to succeed at her new job in the sales-training program at Acxiom Corp., a global interactive marketing firm.

But it wasn't until she took the Birkman Method personality assessment test -- a 45-minute assessment to identify an individual's work style and behavior -- that she really got the tools she needed. The Little Rock, Ark.-based Acxiom requires nearly every new employee to take the 298-question test. Ms. Lund, who joined the company last year, says she quickly learned she worked best by planning a task step-by-step, being creative and having time to reflect. "It has helped me to learn how to interact better with work teams and to leverage my strengths in the workplace," she says.

Many young people are facing this extra hurdle. These days, more than 80% of midsize and large companies use personality and ability assessments for entry and midlevel positions as either pre-employment or new-employee orientation tools, says Scott Erker, a senior vice president at Development Dimensions International, a global human-resources consultancy. These assessments have been widely used in retail positions but are quickly spreading to other industries, including finance, technology, health care and operations.

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Key To Talent Attraction & Retention Revealed in National Research Study

What key attributes do you look for in your dream job?

Standard working hours, a good relationship with colleagues or a transparent organisation?

According to a recent study on talent attraction and retention – none of the above.

The top five attributes in the attraction of talent were ranked in order of importance by respondents as “opportunity for long term career progression”, “attractive overall compensation and benefit package”, “provide work life balance”, “opportunity to work in
different roles” and “training and development”.

When it came to the top five attributes in the retention of talent, respondents ranked
“attractive overall compensation and benefit package”, “opportunity for long-term career
progression”, “recognition and appreciation of employees' work”, “job security” and “provide work life balance” in order of importance.

The national research study, “A SNEF-StrategiCom Correlation Study In Branding of SMEs as Employers” was conducted by StrategiCom, a B2B branding specialist consulting firm. It was done in collaboration with the Singapore National Employers Federation.

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Employer Branding: How Do Singapore SMEs Become Talent Magnets

By Charissa Lim, Consultant, StrategiCom

Employer Branding - An Introduction
As Jim Collins wrote in his best-seller “Good to Great”, “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” The attraction of talent can be done through employer branding, which refers to “the attraction and retention of skilled personnel". The concept of Employer Branding is a fairly new one in Asia.

An employer brand is therefore defined as the image of the organisation as a ‘great place to work’, in the minds of existing and potential employees. Employer branding can also be perceived to be a talent magnet for companies to attract and retain the highest-calibre of employees.

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More Than Just Pregnant

Enhanced maternity benefits, coupled with the tough economic times, are prompting some resource-strapped companies to fire pregnant employees or deny them their full entitlements. However, there are win-win alternatives that can benefit both the firm and the employee.

By Becky Lo

Recent figures from the Ministry of Manpower show that there was a spike in number of complaints regarding unfair dismissals in recent years – especially for pregnancy-related issues. The authorities have received 56 such complaints last year, up from 26 cases in 2008 and 16 in 2007.

The employers’ dilemma
Many factors may have led to this, including the implementation of new regulations that have substantially improved maternity benefits. For example, since 2008, paid maternity leave has been extended from 12 to 16 weeks. Also, the 180-day qualifying period for new employees to enjoy maternity benefits has been halved to just 90 days.

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Achieving Intergenerational Nirvana

‘Generation gap' and ‘communication breakdown' are terms more often used in a social context: but when it comes to work, the problem can take a professional turn for the worse.

By Nabilah Husna A. Rahman

Perpetuating a sundry mix of staff across ages at your workplace can bring a whole lot more than generational vibrancy. What can also be at stake is work productivity, and according to the latest Kelly Global Workforce Index (KGWI), 76% of the 3,000 local respondents find that generational differences often affect workplace operations.

It is politically accurate to suggest that an open and lively culture can be encouraged through a fusion of old and young: the fresh-faces bring novel ideas into the workplace, while the veterans uphold industry tradition and impart astuteness. With the right staff and the right balance, all would be well, or at least seemingly so.

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