Singapore Airline

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Even before development starts, there is substantial effort to ensure that the company hires the right staff. For example, entry qualifications for cabin crew applicants are both academic (at least polytechnic diploma, meaning that they have spent 13 years in school), as well as physical attributes. The recruitment process isextensive, involving 3 rounds of interviews, a ‘‘uniform test’’,a ‘‘water confidence’’ test, psychometric tests, and a tea-party. Over 16,000 applications are received every year, and the company hires around 500-600 new cabin crew, to cover attrition rates of around 10%. This include both voluntary and directed attrition. After the Singapore Girls start flying, they are carefully monitored for the first 6 months, through a monthly report by the in-flight supervisor. At the end of the probationary period, 75% get confirmed, around 20% get an extension of probation and 5% leave. Senior managers at SIA believe that everyone, no matter how senior, has a training and development plan with clear goals. The famous ‘‘Singapore Girl’’ undergoes training for 15 weeks, longer than any other airline and almost twice as long as the industry average of 2 months. Thistraining includes not only functional skills such as food and beverage serving and safety training, but also soft skills of personal interaction, personal poise, grooming and deportment, and emotional skills of dealing with the consequences of serving very demanding passengers. SIA’s training of the Singapore Girl is likened to a ‘‘finishing school’’: ‘‘The girls are transformed fromcoming in, and by the time they come out, they look totally different. Their deportment, the way they carry themselves.There’s a great transformation there’’ (Sim Kay Wee). In addition to such training, SIA also encourages and supports activities that might, on the surface, be seen as having nothing to do with service in the air. Crew have created groups such as the ‘‘Performing Arts Circle’’, staging full-length plays and musicals, the ‘‘Wine Appreciation Group’’ and the ‘‘Gourmet Circle’’. These activities help to develop camaraderie and team spirit. During their initial training and subsequent career, crew employees also spend time at welfare homes, to get a close-up engagement with the less fortunate, who have to depend on others for their survival. This is aimed to help them develop empathy for others and put themselves in the shoes of the passengers. The contents of the training change to reflect customer expectations. ‘‘While our Singapore Girl is our icon, and we’re very proud of her and her achievements, we continue to improve her skills; we continue to improve her ability to understand appreciation of wines and cheeses for example, or our Asian heritage . the enhancement must be continuous’’ (YapKim Wah). Cabin crew can select refresher courses, and on average attend 3–4 days’ of such courses a year. Popular courses include ‘‘transactional analysis’’ (a counseling-type course), leadership courses, and European languages. The company is moving from a system of directing which courses cabin crew should attend, to one of ‘‘self directed learning’’, where staff take responsibility for their own development.

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