Looking beyond the usual pool of talent

TMF Singapore has successfully tapped on mature workers to help meet their manpower needs

Looking to address its manpower needs amid a labour shortage, professional administrative services firm TMF Singapore turned to a pool of talent largely overlooked by employers: seniors. To do so, TMF Singapore teamed up with the Centre for Seniors (CFS) in a pilot scheme that matches workers above 60 years of age with employers.

As part of the initiative, CFS linked hiring managers from TMF Singapore to mature candidates, who were assessed on their suitability for positions within the company. Since the scheme kicked off in August last year, TMF Singapore has hired four of these candidates – aged 62 to 65 – to fill various roles within their company.

BizQ spoke to Edmund Lee, Managing Director, Singapore at TMF Group about how the company integrated their mature hires and the value they have brought to the organisation.

What made you first turn to seniors as a potential pool of talent?

As a company, you want a diverse range of backgrounds and perspectives. That’s what makes us stronger as a team. So we look across a number of metrics – whether its gender, or age – when it comes to hiring. When you consider Singapore’s demographics, there’s a large untapped pool of mature workers. In fact, around 15% of our employees in Singapore are over the age of 50.

Through our personal contacts, we got to know CFS last year, and they were very focused on trying to re-engage this element of the population. So we partnered them on a pilot scheme that has seen us hire four persons above 60 years of age.

How did the partnership with CFS work?

CFS first tries to understand what our requirements are as a business. They then look into their pool of candidates to find those with the appropriate skills who might be able to meet our requirements. It’s a two-way discussion, because sometimes we may need to re-engineer or change some of our processes to accommodate these candidates.

Edmund Lee, Managing Director of TMF Singapore

How does CFS prepare these senior workers for their new roles?

For someone who’s been out of the workforce for a few years, or who are taking on a new role, there might be difficulties in adjusting when they join us. For instance, the person may have to move from a senior role to a more junior one, or report to someone younger or less experienced than themselves. So CFS conducts an orientation programme for candidates to help manage their expectations. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s a process.

What roles do the four mature workers undertake in your company?

The four employees are located in four different departments. Three are in our main service lines – accounting and tax services, HR and payroll services, as well as corporate secretarial services. And the fourth one is in our compliance team.

Were there any teething problems when it came to integrating them?

One concern they had was about the use of technology. For instance, the lady in our compliance department had to learn to use Google to conduct background searches as part of our AML (anti-money laundering) work. But we provided training for them to help them ease into their roles.

Another concern was whether they would be able to fit in here. But we have a very welcoming and diverse culture at TMF Group. We also tailored our orientation programme for them. We conducted a workshop for our heads of departments to explain to them the benefits of having these seniors with us. And then we had a separate workshop attended by the seniors and the managers so that they could interact.

The aim was for the seniors to better understand the environment here, and for our managers to understand what the seniors had to offer.

What were some of the processes and systems you had to change to accommodate the mature workers?

There was some job redesign involved. For example, the person in HR & Payroll Services, we redesigned the job so that she only does the claims processes. We also increased the level of our flexi-work arrangements for them. One of the ladies needs to go back in the afternoons to take care of her grandchildren. So we worked out an arrangement where she comes in earlier in the mornings.

What value do they bring as more experienced workers?

Millennials tend to have shorter attention spans, but older workers bring a certain level of maturity and stability. They are keen to stay on and are not thinking about their next move. They have their own career goals and aspirations, of course, and we discuss these with them, but it’s not like they are planning to move on to their next job in the next three months.

What has the overall experience been like so far?

It’s been very positive. They are very engaged and I think they appreciate that they are keeping busy. They have also found the people here to be very friendly. The other team members extend to them a certain level of respect because of their maturity.

We don’t treat them any differently or slap a label on them. They are invited to all the trainings that we have, whether it’s soft skills or technical training, and they all have decided to join in. So I think they enjoy the fact that they can learn again in this environment.

What would you say to other companies to encourage them to consider employing mature workers?

They should set aside preconceived notions about seniors and keep an open mind. Importantly, they should also work with CFS, who have been a really good collaborative partner; whether it’s in managing the expectations of the candidates, or working with us to find appropriate candidates.

TMF Singapore is among the pioneer companies who pledged their commitment to Sustainable Employment practices. Join them and take the Sustainable Employment Pledge today. For more information, visit our site.

Share your company’s journey to adopting sustainable employment practices with us by emailing sustainable.employment@sbf.org.sg