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Singapore International Airlines Essay

Introduction

Singapore Airlines was founded in the year 1947 as the Malayan Airways Limited (MAL) during the British invasion at the Tanah Melayu. After the events Independence in 1957, the Malayan Airways Limited has changed its name to Malayan Singapore Airlines (MSA). However, the company name should be changed again as a result of the separation of Singapore from Malaysia in 1965. This company was separated in two different entities which are the Malaysian Airlines (MAS) and the Singapore Airlines (SIA). As defining the image of the company, sarong kebaya worn by the flight attendants or crews that can be seen until now have been designed by French Couturier Pierre Balmain.

Question 1: Describe what is so special about SIA’a five elements of its successful HR practices? Singapore Airlines (SIA) has been most awarded airline in the world for many years. There are several key element of success that has been practiced by SIA. Singapore Airline has successfully deliver service excellence in a cost-effective way as their cost is much more below all other aviation service provider. In fact, the SIA’s price can be comparable to those of budget airlines. However, the key challenge that the SIA faced in implementing business level strategies, is the effective alignment of functional alignment of functional strategies such as HR, marketing, or operation with the business level strategy.

Question 2: Evaluate the effectiveness of each element’s contribution towards SIA’s leadership in service excellence and cost effectiveness. The five elements of the SIA’s successful HR practices are:

1. Stringent selection and recruitment processes
2. Extensive investment in training and retraining
3. Successful service delivery teams
4. Empowerment of frontline staff to control quality
5. Motivating staff through rewards and recognition
Each of the elements has its own specialty and uniqueness.
1. Stringent selection and recruitment processes.

Singapore Airlines open up their recruitment for new crews annually at different countries, such as, Indonesia and Singapore itself. Each year, they received 18,000 applications from various countries as it is one of the best airline company in term of high-quality service. Besides, SIA also won the World’s Best Airlines award and other international award as well. Therefore, SIA has been a bone of contention among the school leavers and graduates as a desirable company to work for. However, among the 18,000 applications received, only around 600-900 new cabin crews are hired by the company. As a well known aviation company, SIA adopts a stringent selection and recruitment processes. Among the procedures are:

a) Interview

There are several interviews needed by an applicant to face before joining the company. The first one is the group interviews which require the applicants to read English passage. This is the step to assess language competency among the applicants. The next one is the one-on-one interview which aiming to evaluate whether the applicants possesses SIA’s required core values and competency as well as the psychometric test.

b) Uniform test

We hardly heard the uniform test as what the SIA did. This test is to assess the look of the applicants in SIA’s sarong kebaya, the identity of the company. The evaluation is including the posture, gait and general appearance of the applicants in the uniform.

c) Water confidence test

One of the tests that all the applicants need to go through is the water confidence test. They will wear a life jacket and jump from three metres high into a pool which located at SIA’s training centre. This test is to test the applicant’s confidence with water in case there is emergency case which requires them to aid passengers for an emergency evacuation on water. SIA cannot select crew which afraid of height or water or, their company reputation will be in problem if something bad happened to the plane.

d) Final stage

Another unique test that the SIA did to asses their applicants ability is through attending a tea party. During this test, the management will observe the applicant’s interaction style and demeanour. It is just another step of the selection to help the management confirm on the selecting new cabin crews.

2. Extensive investment in training and retraining

Training is a very important step that the SIA need to provide for its staff and crews. For SIA, the training provided is to utilize the source of the technology and infrastructure that the SIA has. Besides, SIA also aim to enable crew to provide a gracious service which will be reflecting the warmth and friendliness, as well as, maintaining an image of authority and confidence in the passengers’ mind. The training that provided by SIA is not only about the safety and functional issues but also beauty care, gourmet food and wine appreciation, as well as the art of conversation.

In addition, SIA has seven training school that train the crews for seven core functional areas of training, such as, cabin crew, flight operation, commercial training, information technology, security, airport services training and also engineering. Apart of the SIA training school that provide training on operation, SIA also offers general management training under HR division which provided by the SIA Management Development Division. The general management training that provided includes the executive and leadership programs for all staffs. Its objective is to generate effective managers and visionary leaders.

The training provided by the SIA to their staff is to aims at building team spirit among the staff in key operational areas. Moreover, in guiding the new employee, the managers themselves play the role as the mentors and coaches.

In order to give the management more holistic picture on organization, SIA has adopted the job rotation approach. This approach is very help in developing a better understanding of operation at other areas of the organization to the managers. Besides, this concept also can reduce problem or conflict between the departments. This approach also can be considered as employee learning and development process.

3. Building high performance service delivery teams.

Working in team is very important for a big organization as SIA. They have to work together and communicate among each other in order to uphold and maintaining the good reputation of the company. Currently, SIA has 6,600 crew members and they are divided into a smaller team of 13 members. This team will work together in the organization for example fly together in order to allow them to build understanding among them. This approach is very useful to the SIA as they can improve their service and weakness among their members. This team will be lead by a team leader, who really understand the members’ strengths and weaknesses, and also act as the counsellor for the member.

In order to ensure that the team is following the company’s culture of work, the team will be supervised by “check trainer” who will inspect their performance and generate feedback that aids the team’s development. As what Ms. Gladys Chia said, the team leader will monitor and point out what improvement that can be done by the crew. Mr Sim Kay Wee said that, with the approach of breaking the staff into team, SIA are able to take a good control of their crew’s performance. It is important in order to maintain the good name of the company. In addition, the approach that has been introduced by SIA also can inculcate the sense of belonging to the team because of the support and guidance that the crew will get when they work in team.

4. Empowerment of frontline to deliver service quality

Frontline is the team that face the customer directly everyday and they are the person who will need sufficient of soft skills when delivering the excellence customer services. Team frontline crew also plays a major role in maintaining the reputation of the company. Therefore, they need to utilize their roles when confronting with their customer as the managers cannot constantly monitor the situation. Based on the story shared by Mr. Toh, it is important for the customer to have their own space to make a decision on their own as long it is do not damage the company’s reputation. The story of a stewardess taking care of an old lady during her flight to Brisbane is a very good example, where it makes the old lady’s son thanks her and the SIA for taking an excellent care of her mother all the way from Singapore.

5. Motivating staff through rewards and recognition

Rewards and recognition is the best approach taken by the SIA in motivating the staff to perform positively at their. SIA has a various form of rewards: a) Interesting and varied job content – can make the staff fell that they have an important role in the company and they will feel very proud of what they are doing. b) Symbolic action – praises from the manager or team leader can motivate them to do better next time and also contribute other members to perform well as well.

Among the rewards that have been recognized by SIA is the honour as the annual Deputy Chairman’s Award. For Mr. Sim, recognition awarded by the company apart from the financial rewards is to ensure that their staffs are recognized for their commitment and dedication. However, the rewards and recognitions given are based on the evaluation system. This evaluation system is to monitor the staff to behave as desired by the company. They key element that adopted during the evaluation is “onboard assessment”:

a) Image – grooming and uniform turnout
b) Service orientation – crew’s interaction and passenger handling capabilities
c) Product knowledge
d) Job skills
e) Safety and security knowledge
f) Adherence to procedures
g) Work relationship – team working spirit


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