SMEs to share HR practices in new organisation's workforce series

At Yang Kee Logistics, business operations general manager Mr Ong Swee Keong (far left) gives a site tour to Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development Lee Yi Shyan (centre), accompanied by Mr Ken Koh, Yang Kee managing director (second from left) Mr Chris Koh, deputy general manager of chemical logistics (second from right) and Mr Chan Chong Beng, chairman of the Workforce Advancement Federation (far right). ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - The efforts of a new non-profit body to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) tackle the labour crunch are under way.

More than 50 business leaders attended an exchange event by the Workforce Advancement Federation (WAF) to learn more about HR and talent management for SMEs.

The session, hosted by 25-year-old firm Yang Kee Logistics at their Jurong Pier warehouse premises, is the second of WAF's monthly Workforce Champion Series and the first to be supported by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency. The first of the series was hosted by Jason Marine in June.

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development Lee Yi Shyan joined the group for a site tour of Yang Kee, as well as a dialogue on workforce innovation.

During the dialogue, Mr Lee stressed the importance of HR and training for workers, especially given the onset of increased automation. "Not only should we introduce training relevant to today's workers, we must anticipate the training necessary in the next three to five years," he said.

WAF was launched in July by prominent local businessman Chan Chong Beng to help SMEs learn how to better recruit and retain staff, and to provide learning and mentoring opportunities for firms.

Mr Chan, former president of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (Asme), said: "One of the biggest weaknesses of SMEs is a lack of HR. It's very encouraging to see more successful companies willing to come forward, share their best practices, and help to change people's mindsets."

At Tuesday's session, Yang Kee managing director Ken Koh spoke about the company's productivity measures and HR strategies, including its in-house training academy, increased automation and welfare facilities for staff such as childcare services.

Mr Koh, 39, said: "We chose to host this visit because we want to work with other companies to learn their best practices. I am learning from them just as they are learning from us."

Participant Desmond Ong, chief executive of lift service provider Galmon, said the session was "eye-opening".

Said the 63-year-old: "Our company is also trying to move our HR away from just being a cost centre that handles budget to having strategies such as branding. It's good to take a look at what others like Yang Kee are doing."

Mr Chan said that besides future sharing sessions, WAF is also working with HR firms such as Human Capital Singapore and Aon Hewitt to bring their consulting services to its member companies.

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