OGP Named One of Singapore’s Best Workplaces

OGP has been named one of Singapore’s best workplaces. We are also the first government agency to be recognised as one.

If this is a reason for you to join us and you are anticipating opportunities, now is the time. The Singapore government has launched a new initiative to accelerate tech hiring in the next three months, for roles across various functions, including software engineering, product management, and design.

Tech for Public Good is a government-wide initiative led by Open Government Products (OGP) and the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG) to recruit technology talent for the whole of government. In building technology for the public good, the public sector has rolled out many products that have improved the lives of Singaporeans, such as ParkingSG, the COVID-19 vaccination system, and ScamShield.

OGP will be holding information sessions over the next few weeks to share what it is like working in the public sector, with emphasis on career shifts from the private to the public sector. Sign up at go.gov.sg/techforpublicgood. Alternatively, apply for roles directly at go.gov.sg/join-ogp.

Three weeks ago, the Great Place To Work (GPTW) committee unveiled the list of Singapore’s Best Workplaces for 2022 from the ASEAN region. OGP received two awards, the Singapore Best Workplaces award under the Small Workplaces category and Best Workplaces in Technology award.

GPTW has been the organisation behind the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list since 1998. The team gathers, evaluates, and recognises high-performance workplace cultures, and surveys more than 100 million employees around the globe every year, as part of the organisation’s annual study of workplace excellence.

At a panel discussion involving Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and representatives from organisations in the private sector, GPTW Global CEO Michael C. Bush remarked that it is unusual for government agencies to be recognised as a top workplace given that most people typically do not associate government agencies with one.

You might ask, what is OGP’s secret recipe?

People. Essentially, we prioritise our people.

Many of the goals and outcomes that organisations proactively work towards, from higher productivity levels to groundbreaking innovation, naturally fall in place when organisations have high-trust cultures.

We attribute our high-performing organisation and high-trust culture to three key pillars.

#1 Support

We actively build a collaborative relationship with employees. One of the ways we do so is through regular pulse surveys for a sense of the team’s needs, successes, and pains.

We also created a space for employees to offer feedback or pose questions anonymously. We take the time to address all of these, and enact change where needed. Communication efforts go beyond the digital space. Our quarterly town hall meeting is a platform for physical dialogue to take place.

Whether it is about the efforts we are undertaking to maintain and improve OGP’s flat organisational structure as we grow, thinking of even more ways to better design the office space, or changing our hiring approach in the midst of an evolving tech landscape, questions don’t get swept under the carpet. Air your grievances or share your ideas, we are open to it all and we give straight answers.

Support also means that we create a conducive environment and provide optimal resources for product teams to deliver. This could range from hacking bureaucracy, to scaling headcount, and more. Supporting employees in innovation, learning, and development is also integral to OGP. Our annual Hack for Public Good provides employees the time and space to explore, experiment, learn, and develop their skills. Every year, for the entire month of January, our employees pause non-core projects to work on a public good problem that interests them. They go through the iterative process of generating new ideas for products, conducting user research, and prototyping, with the end goal of showcasing working prototypes by the end of the month. It is also the organisation’s way of identifying and working on building tech to deliver public good in its various shapes and forms.

#2 Fairness

Treating people fairly is imperative in creating a high-trust workplace. To do that, we create clear frameworks for all hiring, performance, and compensation matters.

The traditional approach to performance management is not quite ideal. There is often minimal space for progress-focused conversations and minimal scope for employee growth due to a lack of proper guidance or developmental plans, leading to low employee engagement.

It also doesn’t help when performance outcomes are influenced by factors not linked to immediate impact, such as unrealised potential and years of experience. Some organisations also implement a quota or adopt the bell curve system to identify a specific number of top employees to reward and promote. In all, these practices inevitably lead to a lack of fairness, equity and impartiality, leading to a dip in staff morale.

Unfortunately, this is still how some less progressive organisations perceive and practice performance management today.

Performance assessment and decisions in OGP are made purely on demonstrated impact, which we articulate through function career schemas. We do not put in place a bell curve to pit employees against one another or implement a quota to cap the number of promotions.

The following four aspects demonstrate how we’ve established fairness in performance management:

  1. Peer feedback from a wide variety of people — reduces incentive to put up a front toward specific individuals or groups, while encouraging prosocial behaviour across the team.
  2. Confidence-weighted peer assessments — allows for a wider spread of opinions, and allows for people to share honest views, even with limited information.
  3. Performance measure by career level — reduces status quo bias by identifying the level that someone is performing at, as opposed to one’s performance relevant to his or her current level.
  4. Manager makes and owns final decisions — peer feedback alone doesn’t determine decisions. Final call still rests with a person familiar with the work exercising judgement.

#3 Pride

In OGP, we pride ourselves on empowering our employees to be decision makers. Our goal is to maximise the amount of effective brain power we have solving problems. This means organising for creativity and autonomy more than command and control. The role of the organisation and middle managers is not to dictate or shepherd, but to facilitate learning, provide resources, and help clear blockers that people face. We trust people to become experts in their area of focus, and give them autonomy to decide how to maximise impact in their work.

We have been able to do this because unlike the majority of the public sector and other traditional large organisations, the organisational structure in OGP is relatively flat. Without much hierarchy, employees have the autonomy to make decisions and own their area of work, instead of having to go through layers of approval. When employees are given ownership over their work, it cultivates a sense of pride and purpose towards their job and the workplace.

We work hard.

And we play hard too.

If working on impactful problems and making Singapore better strike a chord with you, come join us!

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Open Government Products

We are Open Government Products, an experimental division of the Government Technology Agency of Singapore. We build technology for the public good.