Free «Employee Performance Management: Best Practices» Essay Sample

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has successfully gained an advantage over its competitors in the airline industry due to its adoption of unique human resources (HR) practices. According to Wirtz and Heracleous (2012), it has five elements of the latter that it uses in a unique way to gain and maintain its competitive advantage over other companies in the industry. SIA’s success in the delivery of unrivalled services and its ability to achieve customer loyalty is because of the company’s HR practices that serve as its initial building blocks for quality service provision.

The Uniqueness of SIA’s Five Elements of Successful HR Practices

Stringent Selection and Recruitment Process

The term “stringent” used in describing the selection and recruitment process followed by SIA’s HR management may be perceived to have a negative connotation. Despite the latter, this element makes selection and recruitment unique in the company as compared to other organizations operating in the airline industry and not only in this sector. Many criteria that the HR management requires applicants to meet before their inclusion in the company as part of the workforce are of specific interest. SIA’s extensive screening requirements involve candidates’ age ranges, physical attributes, and academic qualifications (Wirtz & Heracleous, 2012). The uniqueness of the process is further enhanced for those who succeed in meeting baseline requirements. They should go through a series of interviews, including uniform checks, psychometric tests and even attend a tea party. All the processes are aimed at getting the best employee out of many applicants.

Extensive Investment in Training and Retraining

The company is unique in its emphasis on training and retraining as a means to get the most qualified workforce. The HR department considers training to be among the basic tenets of its strategy. The requirement for the newly recruited staff to go through a four-month training course is unique since the period is considered the longest and probably the most comprehensive in the industry (Wirtz & Heracleous, 2012). Besides, training and retraining in the company is holistic, enabling the newly recruited employees to learn a wide range of skills, including the art of conversation that most companies overlook.

Creation of High-Performance Service Delivery Teams

Most companies in the service industry have realized the essence of teamwork. However, SIA has gone an extra mile in this aspect making it part of the company culture as it regards effective teams as a vital requirement for service excellence. Its HR management has a unique strategy of creating what it calls “esprit de corps” (Wirtz & Heracleous, 2012). It calls for the formation of teams giving team members an opportunity to fly together and build “camaraderie.” This strategy is helpful in enabling new employees to learn their role and to get guidance from team leaders adapting well to their new tasks as part of the company’s workforce. Besides, the approach is unique since it helps the HR management understand employees’ strengths and weaknesses and provide new staff members with counselors in the form of team leaders to help them boost their performance.

Empowerment of Frontline Employees to Deliver Service Quality

It is unique to realize that SIA’s HR management always strives to empower its employees to be capable of making decisions that other companies consider as a reserve of the top leadership. In SIA, the HR department ensures that members of the staff are honored, achieving unrivalled service excellence. It empowers employees to handle customers on their own without the need for constant monitoring by the management (Wirtz & Heracleous, 2012). Besides, the manner in which the latter exercises its role of communicating new developments to workers and explaining them their limits of empowerment is distinct.

Motivation of the Staff through Rewards and Recognition

SIA has a unique way of motivating its employees that is established as part of its HR strategies. The company has different forms of rewards, some of which do not exist in other organizations (Wirtz & Heracleous, 2012). For example, unlike SIA, most of the latter hardly recognize the provision of interesting and varied job content as a form of reward. Unlike many companies whose reward systems are overly money-based, SIA’s HR management has included other creative and more appealing forms of reward like the organization of good employee appreciation ceremonies and promotions.

Each Element’s Contribution toward SIA’s Leadership in Service Excellence and Cost-Effectiveness

The selection and recruitment process used by SIA plays a significant role in enabling the company to maintain its leadership in offering quality services with a high level of effectiveness. According to Boudreau, Ziskin, and Gibson (2014), an extensive selection and recruitment process enables a company acquire highly qualified personnel to be included in its workforce, ensuring professionalism that is vital for success in the service industry. Additionally, the recruitment process facilitates the acquisition of intelligent employees who easily follow the training process and become an asset as they gain customers’ trust.

The company’s investment in training and retraining has a big cost-benefit advantage since it enables employees to acquire necessary skills that lead to compliments and awards, of which the company boasts. Meinert (2014) asserts that through training and retraining the company instills confidence in its employees and clients, enabling it be regarded as a leading firm in the airline industry. The training and retraining strategy also enables company’s employees to stay up-to-date with emerging issues in the industry and to help each other in their areas of strengths and weaknesses.

The ability of SIA to build high performance delivery teams makes a big contribution to its leadership in service excellence and cost effectiveness. Effective teams that exist in the company help in mentorship of newly recruited employees, reducing the duration that they take to adapt to their new work environment and provide satisfactory services (Couch, 2012). It is also worth noting that teams, the development of which the HR management facilitates, serve as an avenue, through which it monitors performance of employees and bases employee rewards and promotions (Meinert, 2014). The latter contribute to their ability to provide excellent services in a cost-effective way.

The strategy of empowering the frontline staff to deliver service quality contributes to SIA’s leadership through minimizing the need for the supervision of employees by the management. It helps staff members develop confidence in their individual abilities to make right decisions. Hence, it eradicates the cost of supervision in terms of time and material resources.

Employee motivation by means of rewards and recognition is cost effective in the sense that such incentives inspire employees to work hard in providing quality services for clients (Jones, 2013). By so doing, the rewards and recognition strategy helps in boosting performance of all staff members who always strive to be on top of the game.

Reasons Why Many Organizations Have not Managed to Execute the HR Practices Effectively

The HR strategies at SIA has enabled it to achieve a higher performance level. Other companies that may seek to adopt the same practices by their efforts face various factors. First, they are keen to adhere to government policies that prevent them from practicing stringent selection and recruitment (Jones, 2013). Such policies include those that oppose the consideration of physical appearance as a disqualifying factor for a job. Other companies overlook the need to train and retrain their staff members. They employ the workforce that is rigid to change. Failing to consider the need for training employees continuously can easily make an organization fail in realizing its goal.

Some organizations have a rigid culture that does not give a room for frontline empowerment as a way of improving the quality of their services (Grossman, 2006). Such is the case with companies that require strict adherence to established bureaucracies and where decision-making is reserved for the top management. In such a case, employees are not given time and power to make decisions, develop confidence, and hone their leadership skills. Additionally, focus on cost cutting makes it difficult for some companies to offer opportunities for employee rewards and recognition. Such organizations perceive the provision of financial incentives as an expensive undertaking. They also fail to give promotions to employees as a form of reward due to the need for a salary increment that comes with such practice. Over time, staff members lose their morale and do not want to put extra effort.

SIA’s HR Practices Illegal in the U.S. and “Race to the Bottom” Competition

The idea that some SIA’s HR practices are illegal in the USA is true in terms of employee rights. In particular, some strategies in the HR’s stringent selection and recruitment process go against regulations governing employee rights in the USA. The consideration of the physical appearance of applicants before they are granted a job opportunity is against the U.S. policy of non-discrimination and the provision of equal job opportunities. Among the issues violated by the stringent selection and recruitment, there is the provision that illegalizes discrimination based on disability, personal appearance, age, and gender. In SIA, applicants are subjected to a screening to check baseline requirements that include their physical appearance, age, or gender, and some of them can be disqualified due to a physical disability that will make them fail a water confidence test.

The HR practices create a sense of unfair competition for SIA’s competitors that can ensure strict adherence to recruitment policies. According to Jones (2013), the HR department of every company should consider recruitment policies that call for the provision of equal opportunities for all job applicants. It is true that as opposed to SIA, its competitors can hire employees with physical disabilities that can significantly impact their effectiveness in providing some services as expected. When such companies are keen to play by the rules, SIA goes ahead of them by only hiring those who are academically and physically fit to undertake their duties.


SIA is a clear justification that companies must always consider the human capital as a vital asset in their pursuit of success. The human resource department of every organization must strive to establish HR strategies that can help it acquire, train, reward, and motivate employees. However, companies should be careful to avoid HR practices that discriminate job applicants based on physical disabilities, gender, age or religion.

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