Job redesign – the process of transforming jobs, reconfiguring tasks and redesigning responsibilities to enhance job roles and improve the organisation’s output – has been undertaken by organisations even before the Covid-19 pandemic.
For example, consumers in Singapore were increasingly using smartphones for e-payments and banking transactions, which reduced the need for physical bank branches or tellers. With technology, the nature of job roles in the financial services sector changed, and many tellers were reskilled and redeployed as digital ambassadors, video tellers, customer service officers, and even chatbot trainers.
The pandemic sped up digital transformation across all companies and sectors and pushed them to pivot to a new direction to remain relevant and competitive. Today, as businesses restart and prepare for a rebound in a Covid-19 endemic world, the need to have the right talent pool and workforce capability is a crucial step forward, The Business Times cited.
With this, the nature of jobs correspondingly changed and shifted towards broader value creation.
Redesigning jobs was part of the process to free up capacity for redesigned work, where automation and digital technologies could alleviate rote work and allow the workforce to spend more time on value-added tasks such as engaging customers, developing complex design concepts and interpreting data, which ultimately contribute to business revenue.
Owing to the redesigned jobs, new talents are required to fill the gap. Employers should rethink their hiring consideration and move away from a “plug-and-play” approach to one that is “plug-train-play”.
In this tight labour market, employers stand to gain with a wider pool of candidates when they consider those from other sectors or occupations, and untapped pockets of the workforce like back-to-work women and mid-career individuals who have relevant transferable skillsets and experience.
At Workforce Singapore (WSG), we continue to encourage businesses to keep the longer-term view in mind and to look for opportunities to transform their business models and workforce. We partner and journey alongside employers in guiding them through this transformation process with relevant programmes to support their manpower needs and challenges. We have seen how companies that value their employees and support them in their reskilling journey have emerged stronger from the pandemic.
A key initiative that companies can tap is the Career Conversion Programme (CCP), which allows mid-career individuals and existing employees to undergo skills conversion and move into new occupations or sectors that have good prospects and opportunities for progression.
Currently, there are close to 100 CCPs across nearly 30 sectors and there is healthy interest from companies who have considered taking in mid-career jobseekers to augment their current workforce, and also those who have retained and reskilled existing employees so that they can take on new or redesigned job roles to support new business functions arising from the pandemic.
In 2020, WSG ramped up the CCPs to help businesses in sectors that were badly impacted by the pandemic – such as the air transport and hotel sectors – leverage redeployment to reskill workers and avert retrenchments. Together with the companies, sector agencies and unions, we mapped out their manpower planning, identified job roles that could be redesigned and employees that could be reskilled to take on new or expanded job roles for the future.
One progressive employer is Raffles Hotel Singapore, which worked alongside WSG to streamline some job roles and improve productivity. For example, workers in their laundry and uniform room teams, which were previously managed independently, were cross-trained in their respective operations and the job was redesigned into a single role.
This allowed the team to cover duties when required, resulting in increased efficiency in attending to guests’ requests. Now that the tourists have returned to our shores, the workers are better prepared to take on larger roles as required, alleviating the company’s manpower challenges.
dNata Singapore is another company that took good care of their employees. During the downturn, the company placed about 100 employees on a 6-month CCP for air transport coordinators, which allowed their employees to be upskilled to take on new or expanded job roles.
The knowledge and skills gained allowed them to provide passenger service for multiple airlines, and handle multiple aircraft types including narrow-body, wide-body and freighter aircraft during turnaround services. This enabled employees to be deployed easily to various teams when the need arose.
Recently, WSG also launched a new CCP for multi-skilled essential employees (real estate/facilities management) to help these companies transform their businesses through job-redesign.
An example of a multi-skilled job role is a facilities technician who can perform building checks and surveillance duties. The job scope includes technical service to resolve facility-related issues, as well as building area monitoring and incidence reporting through in-house digital systems.
To make job redesign more accessible, and to spur the implementation of job redesign initiatives, companies can tap on the Support for Job Redesign under the Productivity Solutions Grant where they can work with established job redesign consultants, with WSG providing up to 70 per cent funding support for consultancy services, capped at S$30,000.
Through expert guidance, companies can confidently embark on job redesign and transform their business to make jobs more productive and attractive for workers.
The pandemic has set up what could be lasting employment-landscape shifts that would require the reskilling of the workforce. As companies decide on strategies that will shore up the future of the business, it is critical for HR professionals to go deeper into strategic workforce planning with business units and map out new or enhanced job roles that are needed to drive the company forward.
To achieve a successful job redesign outcome, it is paramount for top management and HR professionals to play an active role so that employees will be “all in” and look forward to contributing positively to the firm’s success.
Employers also need to be clear about the intended objectives – be it to improve productivity, improve staff retention or increase job satisfaction for example – as these objectives will drive how the redesign is approached and what solutions will be developed. In addition, job redesign should not be seen as just a paper exercise. Resources such as time, money and manpower should be clearly spelled out and invested.
Just as learning is a lifelong journey, redesigning jobs should also be viewed as a regular and necessary process for every organisation to respond quickly to changes in the business environment, improvements in technology and shifts in employee demographics.The writer, Julia Ng, is Group Director of the Enterprise Development Group at Workforce Singapore.