Three steps LHUB has taken to adapt and grow during the pandemic #HRtogether

Based in Singapore, Kwek Kok Kwong is CEO of NTUC LearningHub (LHUB).

COVID-19 is an unprecedented event and warrants an unprecedented response. At NTUC LearningHub (LHUB), that mindset has driven our actions as an organisation over the last two months. When COVID-19 reared its ugly head in Singapore, one of the first things we did as a team was to acknowledge it was a crisis and we put ourselves on a “war footing”. This shifting of gear in our mind was important, as it emphasised that we cannot treat it as business as usual. There were three main thrusts to our approach: 

  • Maintaining a sense of mission 

During the COVID-19 period, LHUB played an important role in providing training under the Enhanced Training Support Package (ETSP). Our mission is to deliver training to the sectors which have been severely affected by COVID-19, such as tourism, aviation, retail, food Services, arts and land transport, as well as self-employed workers. As the saying goes, the show must go on and staying true to our mission keeps us going because we know our efforts will pay off and benefit many.  

  • Embracing agile ways of working 

One immediate change that we effected was to schedule daily stand-up meetings to take stock of what policies have changed and brainstormed our next course of actions. We threw away our old SOPs and moved away from email discussions to this daily stand-up meeting, which built quick and robust solutions through collaboration and collective wisdom. Through this platform we came up with concrete action plans, took stock of results from yesterday’s efforts and cleared any roadblocks as a team. Another change was to put together various multi-disciplinary taskforces to address new solutions. In doing this, we tore down organisational walls and barriers, hastened collaboration and empowered rapid execution. We had one task force focused on ‘defence’ – ensuring that all safety issues were implemented and that our processes kept up with the evolving health risks. Another taskforce focused on ‘midfield’ – revamping our courses and products to be digitally ready. A final taskforce focused on ‘frontline’ – ensuring that we were ready to support the national agenda and outreach to help the affected companies and workers. 

If you are familiar with the agile methodology in IT development, we essentially adopted the agile mindset to handle the COVID-19 crisis. In framing solutions, we asked ourselves what resources and time we have and within those constraints, we decided rapidly what we can deliver and then rigorously tracked that delivery.  

Looking back, this approach enabled us to achieve results beyond what we could imagine, and allowed us to almost seamlessly transform to support our broader mission. We pivoted from a purely face-to-face training organisation to one that is nearly 100% virtual classroom delivery. We retrained hundreds of trainers to train and proctor in a virtual environment. We launched a community initiative within one week to offer 100 free online courses nationally, and within a month, this product had attracted 65,000 sign-ups and 10 million minutes of learning were completed. To reach our customers, we launched virtual consultancy and virtual roadshows.  

We soon acclimatised to the cadence and cycle of waging this war against COVID-19, supported by the multi-disciplinary approach to problem-solving and action-oriented stand-up meetings to build quick and iterative solutions. We were not obsessed with perfection. Instead, our obsession was about coming out with solutions to solve tomorrow’s problems today, which we believe we can fine-tune tomorrow. This is a high-energy culture created under a burning platform and I do hope that it will be here to stay to propel our transformation to the next.  

  • Foster a sense of caring 

Our hardworking team stands behind the rapid transformation, and we know the anxieties created by COVID-19 and the challenges of working from home. Lives have been turned upside down as people have been separated from family, friends, and colleagues. As leaders, empathy was critical as we helped each other through. As an appreciation to staff, we also launched an LHUB Cares program, providing everyone a $100 grocery shopping voucher, with further support for staff who’s family had been severely affected. It is a small gesture but an important one to make sure we stay together as one as we enter the next phase of our COVID-19 battle together. 

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