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Coming out on top
It takes a lot of resilience for a human resource consultancy to survive the digital age. PrimeStaff Management Services has braved a number of storms since its inception in 1994.
From the Asian financial crisis in the late 90s to the rising popularity of Internet job portals, the company has successfully overcome setbacks — and in fact, is prepared to take on any challenges it may face in the future.
In recognition of its resilience and ability to evolve with the times, it has bagged various awards such as the Leading HR Management & Consultancy Services Award at the Singapore HR Awards 2012 organised by the Singapore Human Resources Institute.
Other accolades include the Singapore Prestige Brand Award 2012 in the Established Brand category, the Best Small Recruitment Business Award at the inaugural The Global Recruiter Asia Pacific Recruitment Industry Awards 2012, and the Best Overall Recruitment Firm (Singapore) at the HRM Asia R.E.D. Awards 2015.
With its recent win at the Enterprise 50 (E50) Awards that recognise the top 50 local and privately held companies that have contributed to the economic development of Singapore, PrimeStaff Management Services has cemented its position as an industry leader in the human resources sector.
Founder and managing director Ronald Lee shares how the decision to combine digital technology and the human touch allow the company to be at the top of its game.
Q: How does PrimeStaff Management Services keep up with the evolving human resources sector?
A: Indeed the marketplace has evolved and changed over the years. It has been more dramatic in the recent few years with technological advancements and new innovations.
For example, there were few job portals then compared to what now. The reach is easier and wider, but talent identification, acquisition and retention practices continue to be challenging for companies and have gotten more complex. Competition has been keen.
PrimeStaff constantly evolves and adapts accordingly to stay relevant and effective.
Q: How has digital transformation affected the sector?
A: Digitalisation is something we have to embrace as it helps to improve what we do. We continually adopt and deploy available technologies for value-added service.
While technology is important in expediting work, we are ultimately in the people business. That human element of direct interaction with various parties cannot be fully replaced by technology.
Q: What are some qualities or philosophies that allow PrimeStaff Management Services to overcome obstacles and challenges?
A: We are in this business for the long term. If I were to use an analogy, our business is like running a marathon.
We pace and discipline ourselves for the long haul, since faith and trust cannot be established overnight.
It helps that we stay true to our commitments and promises — we live by that philosophy. Because of that, our reputation for honesty and integrity is key to our longevity.
Q: What are some challenges that PrimeStaff Management Services had to face?
A: We have encountered many challenges in our 24 years in business. Major ones include the Asian financial crisis in 1998, the Internet bubble bursting in early 2000, which affected the information technology sector worldwide, the SARS tragedy in 2003 and the global financial crisis in 2008.
We overcame all of them and emerged stronger with each crisis. There’s no magic formula — we had to persevere, keep our faith strong and work much harder.
We still face challenges and threats today — internally and externally. The low-entry barrier and keen competition in the sector, coupled with a shortage of talent, have led to compromises and a lowering of service standards.
Q: What are some of the company’s latest achievements?
A: We have a long list of repeat customers with expanding scopes of work, we have new clients added weekly, we provide a full suite of human resources (HR) services.
As Enterprise Singapore's (ES) pre-approved HR Shared Services provider, we have, and continue to, help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) develop HR capabilities that in turn bring about increased productivity and profitability.
We have had consistent growth in revenue over the years. Our next step includes an expedited internationalisation programme.
We are pleased to win the E50 Awards. This year’s E50 theme is a relevant reminder of how one should work towards accelerating growth and innovating to meet tomorrow’s challenges.
Q: How significant is the Enterprise 50 award to the company?
A: Winning an award such as the E50 that is credible, supported and endorsed by major institutions such as KPMG, Singapore Press Holdings, Singapore Business Federation and OCBC Bank is satisfying and humbling, an honour for which we are grateful and thankful for.
Winning the E50 awards is significant for us. It is yet another affirmation that what we have been and are doing is right – our people development strategies, our stringent value system, policies and practices, and how we constantly renew processes for relevance.
We hope this will put us another step closer toward realising our vision of becoming “The Preferred HR Consultant” of choice.
Q: What are some innovations that help with PrimeStaff Management Services' operations?
A: We are constantly innovating to transform the company into an intelligent enterprise and enhance our ecosystem of HR solutions in order to improve productivity.
We recently ramped up investments in new Applicant Tracking System, Client Relations Management System and installed the latest full-fledged HR Management System to better service our clients.
Q: What advice would you give to new business owners?
A: There is no shortcut to success. To succeed, one must put in one’s best efforts. Speed without depth is certainly disastrous. A genuine passion and commitment are essential for success and sustainability.
There is an urgent need of a strategy to deal with a changing demographic and expectations of millennials and the gig economy.
Q: How does PrimeStaff Management Services compare itself with multi-national corporations (MNCs) in the same industry?
A: MNCs in the same sector do have better regional reach and a greater capability for big projects.
They may however, be bound or restricted by their broader global policies, making them less flexible.
We have never actually tried comparing ourselves to an MNC in the same industry as it all boils down to market share. We craft our own niche and do our best to exceed clients’ expectations every time when given the opportunity. Within the region where we operate, we have good local knowledge, reach and accuracy. As a home-grown enterprise, PrimeStaff Management Services understands the market well and has the flexibility to negotiate win-win terms and fees.