Referral bonuses in hiring a good move
HR professionals say both employees and companies stand to gain from offering referral bonuses to bring in new employees
Referral bonuses have been in the news since transport companies are offering them in a bid to find new staff.
But how successful are such bonuses?
Human resource professionals The New Paper spoke to said it is a good move.
NeXT Career Consulting Group founder Paul Heng said: "For companies, it's a no-brainer because existing employees are helping them to shortlist candidates.
"Employees are more likely to look for people whose values are in line with the company's and that helps the company save on the hiring process."
Mr Heng added that this can also lead to greater job satisfaction for existing and new employees.
"I believe SMRT adopted the referral bonus strategy because of the nature of the careers offered," he said.
"It might be harder to fill the posts of bus captains because they are not the preferred jobs for most Singaporeans, with its long hours and perceived hardship."
Ms Annie Yap, group managing director of human resource consultancy firm AYP Asia Group, said some employees might exploit the incentive by focusing their efforts on referring new colleagues instead of their jobs.
But such cases are rare, she added, stressing that the incentives can lead to greater productivity and a better working environment.
"The company can benefit from the new hires and there would be less strain on current employees. This way, everyone benefits," said Ms Yap.
She added that there is a low chance of existing public bus drivers joining competing public transport companies because of more attractive salaries and benefits.
Job branding, work culture and potential for career advancement are weightier factors that might attract employees to switch to a competing company.
On the other hand, enhanced benefits coming from the new players may motivate some private bus drivers to jump ship," said Ms Yap.
But Singapore School and Private Hire Bus Owners' Association vice-president Neo Thiam Beng, 48, said private bus companies would not be threatened because there is no direct competition.
Mr Neo, who has been in the industry for more than 20 years, explained: "Sure, there will be drivers who will be attracted by the benefits.
"We can't compete with that, but private bus drivers know that they can earn more on the whole."
He added that drivers at his private bus company Advance Coach have a base salary of $500 and are paid $20 per trip. The drivers can "easily" earn more than $3,000 a month if they make eight trips a day.
Mr Neo said: "We don't provide medical or dental benefits, but our (private bus) companies have a more relaxed schedule.
"There are pros and cons to the different industries.
"It's like comparing apple and orange."
New firm offers more attractive benefits
The new transport industry player is dangling attractive benefits.
Most striking of the carrots offered by Tower Transit in its hiring package - 26 weeks of paid maternity leave for female staff members, more than the 16 weeks offered by most employers.
It is also offering job redesign for bus captains, removing work such as refuelling, cleaning and parking of buses from their job scope.
Under tripartite guidelines, monthly pay packages for drivers in transport companies are competitive, as rules stipulate that bus drivers with incumbent operators have to be offered jobs by new players on similar, if not better, terms.
From the second quarter of next year, Tower Transit will progressively take over the running of the Bulim bus package which covers 26 bus services in the west.
JOBS GOING FAST
Tower Transit said last Wednesday that it has already filled 600 of its 750 bus captain positions.
The Straits Times reported that 320 of them are bus captains plying the current 26 routes it will take over next year from SBS Transit and SMRT.
Tower Transit also announced last month its offer of a starting monthly basic wage of $1,865 to Singaporean bus captains, where monthly gross pay can reach $3,000 with add-ons for meeting performance incentives.
The basic pay offered by Tower Transit is 5 to 15 per cent higher than that offered by SBS Transit and SMRT, reported The Straits Times earlier this month.
But Tower Transit's total monthly package is similar to SBS Transit's. Tower Transit's non-Singaporean bus captains will start with a basic pay of $1,350 a month.
The Go-Ahead Group, which won the award for the Loyang package last month, has yet to announce details about its remuneration package and will start recruiting only next year.
SMRT, SBS Transit dangle the carrot
Rail and bus service company SMRT was in the news last week when it announced that it is offering existing employees a cash incentive of $1,600 for successful referrals of new bus captains or bus trainers to the company.
The bonus hits $3,000 if the employees refer an engineer who ends up working for the company.
But such a move is not unique to SMRT. SBS Transit has been offering referral bonuses since 2010.
SBS Transit's staff referral programme pays up to $1,700 for Singaporean bus captains and $1,200 for technicians and operations staff who are successfully referred, said senior vice-president of corporate communications Tammy Tan.
SMRT's offer comes amid stiffer competition for bus drivers with the entry of two new London-based operators, Tower Transit and Go-Ahead.