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Taking care of our employees

A professional and proud workforce is vital to achieving our reliability and sustainability goals. We believe in nurturing our people’s competencies to ensure continued relevance in a constantly changing world. Our emphasis on engaging hearts and minds have borne fruit. Our annual voluntary attrition rate is low at 6.2%.

Building Integrity, Discipline and Accountability

SMRT’s core values of SMRTnI – Safety & Service Excellence, Mastery, Responsibility & Respect, Teamwork, Nurture and Integrity – anchor our efforts to build a disciplined workforce that is committed to producing excellence and quality outcomes. We have stepped up efforts to create a collective ethos of pride in the organisation’s mission and each individual’s contribution toward it.

New employees undergo the SMRT Service Excellence programme. This programme was developed in collaboration with Disney Institute and National Trades Union Congress Learning Hub, and aims to enhance the service standards of all SMRT employees toward Safety, Reliability, Care and Comfort. Our Service Excellence Campaign drives these service values further in daily operations through Leader Ambassadors – advocates appointed across all employee segments and business units.

Efforts are underway to enhance the quality of leadership across levels, particularly among our ground leaders. We have augmented ground leaders with additional deputies and consolidated the work teams and reporting layers for increased accountability, cohesion, engagement and development. To support ground leaders in their leadership roles, we have accelerated training in critical competencies such as EQ, coaching and performance management.

We have strengthened our quality assurance capability with an enlarged inspector force, and a new joint Readiness Inspection (READI) Team, formed in partnership with the Land Transport Authority (LTA). READI will be instrumental in driving discipline and quality standards in Rail Maintenance and Engineering and governing the independent and systematic audit and monitoring of maintenance and asset renewal. We have also established organic quality assurance teams within the business units. We continually review our work processes for clarity, accountability in decision-making and adherence to quality standards, and leverage technology to streamline procedures and facilitate command and control.

Nurturing a Future-ready Workforce

SMRT takes a long-term view to shaping a workforce that fulfils current and future needs. Our Bus and Trains competency-based career roadmaps are key in our efforts to build a competent and future-ready workforce for the public transport industry. We have strengthened ground maintenance leadership with the Engineering Maintenance Manager (EMM) Career Scheme which offers diploma holders the chance to assume key positions in frontline maintenance. These schemes offer an attractive career proposition to employees, with structured career development, progression and job rotation opportunities anchored on competency development, value inculcation and productivity. Coupled with competitive remuneration packages, the schemes have enabled us to better attract, develop and retain a cadre of passionate and proficient talent unwavering in their resolve to drive reliability, service excellence and business growth.

Rail engineers play a key role in SMRT, and we pay close attention to their professional development. To promote the rail engineering industry and professionalise our rail engineers, we drive collaboration with the authorities, industry partners and academic institutions. In 2014, SMRT collaborated with Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), LTA and SBS Transit to develop the Sustainable Infrastructure Engineering (Land) degree programme, which features a year-long immersive internship. SMRT hosted the first batch of SIT interns this past year, and we look forward to having them join us as full-time employees upon graduation, with a distinct edge over other new hires, equipped with ground experience at SMRT.

In 2015, we launched the SMRT Train Engineer Professionalisation (STEP) programme to develop SMRT Trains and Singapore Rail Engineering’s railway engineers. This was coupled with the Chartered Engineer programme for railway and transportation professionals, a product of our collaboration with the Institution of Engineers, Singapore. This professional accreditation recognises the skills and values attained by our railway engineers as they undergo STEP. To date, more than 250 of our engineers have embarked on their journey toward chartership.

To accelerate progress toward world-best rail excellence, we have set our sights on harnessing digital technologies and data analytics for predictive maintenance. The newly set-up Future Systems Office will look into the development of condition monitoring tools for critical systems, in collaboration with strategic partners such as A*STAR.

SMRT invests heavily in our training capability to facilitate an engaging and effective learning experience. SMRT Institute, our in-house training arm, offers a full spectrum of functional, technical and behavioural competency development programmes, and partners academic institutions to augment our pedagogical capability. Our partnership with the University of Birmingham has seen the launch of the Postgraduate Certificate in Urban Railway Engineering (Singapore), the most advanced qualification that the university has co-developed with any railway operator, and the first programme of its kind in Asia. In support of SkillsFuture, the national effort to deepen skills vital to Singapore’s key industries, SMRT collaborated with the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) to develop and operate the Singapore Bus Training and Evaluation Centre (SG BTEC). Singapore’s first team-based training centre for bus drivers and service controllers, SG BTEC features state-of-the-art simulators and an integrated service control centre that enables customised team and scenario-based learning to enhance management of bus service safety and reliability.

It is our priority to build an engaged, enabled and energised workforce.

Strengthening Employee Engagement and Industrial Relations

SMRT recognises that it is essential to build an engaged, enabled and energised workforce that contributes to our organisational goals and serves our national public transportation needs. To strengthen employee relations and workplace harmony, we drive regular two-way engagement between employees and different levels of management to enable clear line-of-sight to the organisational direction and goals, alongside providing a platform for ground feedback. Closed-loop feedback structures and processes further ensure that all feedback is actively followed up on. Management walkabouts and townhalls, coupled with our staff newsletter and digital platforms like GENIE, our internal social media portal, provide staff with a range of informational touchpoints and direct communication channels to higher management.

These engagement efforts are undergirded by the close involvement of the National Transport Workers’ Union (NTWU), our critical partner in working toward our vision of a cohesive workforce that says, stays and strives for SMRT. A Collective Agreement is in place to govern the rights of our non-executive employees, and the Union provides a platform for educating members about their rights, as well as a channel for communication with Management and airing of grievances, if any. A dispute resolution process is codifiedin the Collective Agreement to ensure that disputes are promptly addressed. SMRT actively encourages employees to exercise their right to join the NTWU through recruitment roadshows and facilitating the payment of membership fees through direct salary deductions and the provision of flexible benefits. As a result, union membership is high at 80%.

SMRT’s relationship with NTWU is anchored on principles of trust and open communication, with frequent dialogue and consultation on policy and change management. We are committed to furthering this strategic partnership with the Union, and have inked two Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) to cement both parties’ commitment to co-building our workforce. The first recognises NTWU as an important strategic partner in labour relations, and formalises our mutual commitment to building a future-ready workforce together through the 4E framework, featuring Employability for Life, Efficiency and Productivity Increase, Enhancement of Safety in our Working Environment, and Employee Engagement. The second signifies our recognition of NTWU as the representative of professionals, managers and executives in the areas of 4P – Protection, Professional Development and Progress, Placement and Privileges. In recognition of our efforts to tighten labour relations, the NTUC has accorded various commendations to SMRT over the years. In 2017, SMRT Buses was the proud recipient of the May Day Partners Award for Uplifting Working People’s Jobs and Welfare.

It is our priority to build an engaged, enabled and energised workforce.
The latest MySMRT Active Day brought together almost 500 employees from across SMRT, and fostered stronger bonds through team activities.

Building a Sustainable Workforce Profile

As our headcount grows to meet rising capacity and maintenance needs, we continue to shape a lean and productive workforce with a sustainable age and nationality profile. To retain fit and skilled experienced employees, we extended the reemployment age to 67 years old, ahead of the change in the national statutory mandate. To help our workers better sustain their physical well-being, SMRT has partnered Fullerton Health in implementing a series of healthcare initiatives, including flu vaccinations, on-site physiotherapy treatments, and chronic disease management programmes. Complementary Age Management and Workforce Health taskforces have been commissioned to address the needs of our fast-maturing workforce and strengthen employees’ physical and mental health. Recommendations from these taskforces include increased automation, improved ergonomics, flexible work arrangements and enhanced healthcare provisions.

Officially launched in 1993, the SMRT Corporation Sports and Recreation Club (SCRC) is the custodian of employees’ holistic health and well-being, and facilitates the building of bonds among employees as well as their families and friends. SCRC organises recreational activities including movie outings and talks on health and personal finance, and supports the formation of interest groups. For instance, the Brisk Walking Interest Group has organised expeditions up to the Bukit Chandu Museum atop Kent Ridge Hill and even the grounds of the Istana. In 2017, the 3rd MySMRT Active Day brought together almost 500 employees from across the organisation in a sporting meet that featured a team-based obstacle race and fringe activities like mass Zumba and golfing.

The latest MySMRT Active Day brought together almost 500 employees from across SMRT, and fostered stronger bonds through team activities.

Recognising HR Excellence

We are heartened by the recognition received for our Human Resources (HR) practices. In 2017, our HR team garnered top accolades at the Human Resources Magazine Awards, the Singapore HR Awards and HR Excellence Awards, for our best-in-class practices in a variety of areas including compensation, employee engagement and talent management.

Case Study

Stepping Into Rail Engineering

The STEP framework takes a structured approach to the development of our engineering workforce, and offers fresh to experienced engineers continuous learning.
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The STEP framework drives and sustains the holistic development and professionalisation of SMRT’s engineering workforce.

The STEP framework drives and sustains the holistic development and professionalisation of SMRT’s engineering workforce. The programme incorporates requirements of Engineering professional certification bodies and industry standards, and anchors our engineers’ professional development on knowledge and skill acquisition in Values, Leadership, and Functional Competencies.

Since its 2015 launch, over 370 rail engineers have undergone STEP. Of these, 59 are now on track to attain the University of Birmingham’s postgraduate certificate in Urban Rail Engineering in 2018, and the postgraduate diploma by 2020.

Mechanical engineer Bryan Tan made a career switch from shipping to railway at 31, joining SMRT Trains as Deputy Engineering Maintenance Manager, Rolling Stock. Starting from scratch as a railway engineer, the SMRT Train Engineer Professionalisation Bridging (STEP-BRIDGE) programme built on his existing knowledge to accelerate the acquisition of critical rail-specific technical knowledge and competencies, and helped him transition smoothly into his new role.

Strategic Thrusts

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