Investing in the Commons – The Right Thing to Do

Singapore, Singapore (PRWEB) May 26, 2014

During his Budget 2014 Debate Round-up Speech, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam spoke of the need for companies to raise the human capital in Singapore by investing in the people. Why is there a need to do so? What if they leave?

Nicholas Goh, Founder and CEO of Verztec Consulting Pte Ltd, takes a look and offers a tipsheet on training employees for the greater good.

Handing out long service awards at official ceremonies is a tradition for many corporations. It is a time to recognize and thank loyal staff for their years of contributions.

However, such tributes may be dwindling as talents of this era are likely to change jobs after a few years. According to a 2013 study by global management consultancy Hay Group, there has been an uptick in employee turnover rates in Asia-Pacific. The survey polled employees and asked if they were likely to leave their current jobs within the next two years. For Singaporean participants, 15.6% of them said yes. The figures are even higher for Chinese and Indonesian employees, coming in at 21.3% and 25.8% respectively.    

The age-old dilemma then arises. Since there is no telling if potential star employees would seek greener pastures in the near future, should companies then funnel resources and hone their capabilities?

First, let’s take a look at how training can benefit both the company and employees.

1. Training Engenders Benefits

Even in the face of an ebbing economy, training is an aspect that cannot be scaled back. In the Forbes article “Want Your Company to Succeed in The Future? Invest in Employee Skills Training Like Deloitte LLP”, Diana O’Brien, Principal of Deloitte Consulting LLP, offered an analogy: not upgrading professionals’ skills is akin to not upgrading equipment at a production line and still expecting improved productivity.

The organization is so dedicated to nurturing talents into future leaders that it has created Deloitte University, which offers training programmes and simulation-based courses. “In today’s ever-evolving environment, a company’s success is dependent on employees’ abilities to solve new and complex problems,” said O’Brien. Hence, employees not only need technical skills, they also need to be able to ask effective questions, collaborate with others as well as think innovatively.

“Younger employees are the hardest to retain,” opined O’Brien. Beyond offering competitive remunerations, what can employers do to ensure talent retention? Continuous support for training and learning is an attractive incentive. Diana said that professionals appreciate it when companies take the time to develop their skills and enhance their professional standing.    

2. Believing in Human Capital

The above is of course a win-win situation if an employee decides to advance his career with the company. However, it is a norm for employees to see their current jobs as a springboard to bigger things. What if they leave? Does that mean all the time and effort spent training them have been for naught?

Not quite. Think of it as doing your part for the greater good. And this greater good is in strengthening the human capital.

In The Human Capital Report, a 2013 report by the World Economic Forum, Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab said that the success and future of any country hinges on the “talent, skills and capabilities of its people”. “Talent shortages are ubiquitous,” he added. There is a pressing need to address these shortages and prevent them from becoming long-term problems.

Imagine if every company is cautious about training employees. What ensues, then, is a collective workforce so undertrained and so ill-prepared to tackle new challenges that arise. When that happens, everyone loses. Finding a new qualified hire would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

3. The Lowdown on Training

Now then, how should you go about developing a training framework?

a. Embody the right spirit of training

Dan Carusi, Vice President of Global Learning for Deltek, said in the article “How to Create a Culture of Self-learning” that financial rewards are not the right incentives to use when motivating staff to pursue training. Such want must stem from a personal conviction that training would indeed benefit them in the long-run.

However, as he added, there is a need to publicly acknowledge any positive outcomes. Glowing feedback from customers should be highlighted. A now-empowered staff taking on new roles and responsibilities is also a cause for celebration.    

b. Keep track of finances

While most companies do believe in the power of continuous learning, budget is often a hindering factor. Richard offered cost-cutting solutions that would enable more staff to be trained. For example, instead of enrolling the entire IT team in the same course, consider bringing in an in-house trainer. Appeal to experts and have them organize lunchtime talks to discuss any issues with your teams.

Also, many governments offer initiatives and schemes to help defray training costs. In Singapore, the Skills Development Fund and Workfare Training Support Scheme, to name just a few, allow employers to enjoy subsidies when they send their staff for training.

c. Render your training engaging to employees

Training extends beyond teaching what is written in the manuals. Sharing his business expertise in the article “Richard Branson on How to Train Your Employees”, the founder of Virgin Group said that it is important to give employees significant responsibilities. Let employees run with their ideas; creative thinkers enjoy setting challenging goals and then meeting them.

d. Help employees stay relevant to the industry

OCBC Singapore is an organization that understands the importance of seeing employees as assets. In 1999, the bank introduced the Continuing Education Scheme (CES). The CES encourages employees to continue upgrading their financial knowledge and skills through certification, diploma, degree or masters programmes. What is unconventional is that the CES comes with no strings attached; sponsored employees need not serve any bond after the training.

In the article “No Bond Attached for OCBC Employees” published on Human Resources Online, Head of Learning and Development Cassandra Cheng explained that the bank is committed to “helping talented individuals pursue their ambitions”. As of 2010, 42% of their employees were promoted after completing their education. She also said that employees pursuing part-time studies under the CES were more motivated and would give their best at work.

The article also quelled doubts that employees are likely to pack their bags after receiving sponsored training. 80% of OCBC employees stayed on even after furthering their education.

Evidently, the benefits of raising employees’ competencies are manifold. Not only will they become more adept and productive, employees will develop a sense of loyalty to the company. On a more macro view, when a workforce teems with qualified hires, organizations will thrive and, collectively, they can help drive economic growth.    


Verztec is a leading ISO 9001:2008 Global Content Consulting Company. Verztec assists companies around the world to design, develop, localize and publish their global communication messages in over 60 languages across various channels. For more information, please visit

VerztecLearning, the Learning Solutions division of Verztec Consulting Pte Ltd, is a leader in innovative blended learning and online courses for soft skills, leadership skills, IT skills, business skills and project management skills training. For more information on VerztecLearning, please visit

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