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WHETHER it was a hotel with robots serving food or a manufacturer of wooden pallets fitted with RFID-tracking technology, companies that broke new ground in the productivity stakes over the past year were given their due recognition earlier this month.
Ten organisations across six sectors were honoured at the Singapore Productivity Awards (SPA) 2017 gala dinner on Nov 24. Held at the Shangri-La Hotel, the awards ceremony was graced by Minister for Manpower, Lim Swee Say.
An initiative of the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), the Singapore Productivity Awards recognise enterprises that have demonstrated excellence in productivity. These winners also serve as role models to spur the wider business community to transform and become more productive, the SBF said in a statement.
"SBF would like to extend our heartiest congratulations to the winners of the Singapore Productivity Awards 2017. The 10 winners have exhibited exemplary performance in leading a productivity-led culture through strong leadership, embracing new technologies and innovation, investment in people and delivering superior customer service. We hope these winners serve as inspiration for their industry peers to follow suit," said SS Teo, chairman of SBF.
As the apex business chamber, the SBF champions the interests of the business community in Singapore in trade, investment and industrial relations.
SBF launched the SPA in 2014, in conjunction with the National Productivity Month 2014, a national-level event co-organised by SBF and the Singapore National Employers Federation.
Since its inception, the SPA has recognised 24 companies from six sectors: food & beverage (F&B), hotel, infocomm, logistics, manufacturing and retail.
The awards are part of a bigger national effort to drive productivity among local enterprises in the face of rising costs and a persistent labour shortage.
The efforts appear to be working. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had revealed earlier this month that productivity growth in Singapore has picked up this year, and may exceed 3 per cent.
According to DP Information Group's SME Development Survey 2017, seven in 10 SMEs (71 per cent) continue to invest in improving their productivity this year. Among these SMEs, about half continue to be focused on fine-tuning business processes (52 per cent). Automation is a significant aspect of productivity enhancement, with 95 per cent of the SMEs continuing to automate their businesses this year, the DP survey showed.
Lawrence Leow, honorary treasurer, Singapore Business Federation and chairman of the Singapore Productivity Awards Panel Committee, said that the winners were selected through a combination of quantitative and qualitative evaluations based on their good labour productivity results and innovative initiatives across business processes.
HIGHER VALUE SKILLS
"Besides raising productivity, this year's winners have also achieved improvements in other areas, such as creating higher value skills jobs for their employees, raising staff morale and retention, as well as delivering higher customer satisfaction. The initiatives have therefore brought about a holistic enhancement in their business operations that extends beyond productivity improvements," said Mr Leow.
This year saw the inclusion of companies in the construction industry for consideration in the awards - the sector that has been working hard to raise productivity after being hit hard by the labour crunch.
"Productivity in the construction sector has been increasing steadily, thanks to the collective efforts of our construction firms, key stakeholders and the government," said Kenneth Loo, president of the Singapore Contractors Association. "Participation in the Singapore Productivity Awards is recognition of the sector's efforts to transform the industry, while encouraging companies to embrace innovation and technology, improve project management and be more progressive in the adoption of safe and cost-efficient practices for greater economic benefits and sustainability," Mr Loo added.
The SPA adopts a two-pronged approach of quantitative and qualitative assessments. For the quantitative assessment, companies are evaluated based on their labour productivity and nine other productivity composite indicators using the Integrated Management of Productivity Activities (IMPACT) framework.
For the qualitative assessment, companies are assessed on various aspects, ranging from leadership and strategy, people management, processes and technology to customer engagement.
The awards are supported by knowledge partner, DP Information Group, while the awards panel committee comprises key representatives from SBF, SPRING Singapore, Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, Restaurant Association of Singapore, Singapore Contractors Association Ltd, Singapore Hotel Association, Singapore infocomm Technology Federation, Singapore Logistics Association, Singapore Manufacturing Federation, Singapore National Employers Federation and Singapore Retailers Association.
REPOSITIONING TO BETTER SERVE BUSINESSES
As part of its mission to help Singapore enterprises transform their businesses to become more competitive, SBF announced a repositioning of its role in September in response to a fast changing global landscape. The repositioning is also in line with the Committee on the Future Economy's recommendations, pressing businesses to transform.
Under this new direction, SBF's key role will be to act as a growth platform, intensifying its efforts to "sense, prioritise, analyse and help resolve burning issues facing significant segments of businesses in Singapore".
It also aims to be a stronger voice in advocating to local and foreign governments, businesses and Singapore's workforce to promote the growth and vibrancy of the local business community, and ultimately contribute to the prosperity of Singapore.
"We took the bold step of redefining how we can work more collaboratively with our stakeholders, in particular trade associations and chambers (TACs), to better serve the needs of the business community," said Mr Teo.
"Our goal is to also be a more effective national business voice, as well as to deepen constructive engagement with the government in new and effective ways for a vibrant Singapore economy," he added.