5-Star Employer of Choice 2022

Redefining the “top employer” title

The workplace has been transformed completely over the past three years, and the relationship between employers and employees has also seen a significant shift. Employers are now taking on a broader “duty of care” when it comes to their staff, and they are increasing their focus on health, wellbeing and work-life balance, as well as performance and results.

Organisations have also become more discerning in the areas of benefits, remuneration, career progression and overall wellbeing. For employers, retaining the best talent means providing their employees with a workplace that not only aligns with their values, but also enables them to freely manage and enjoy their personal life.

“Gaining the trust and confidence of our employees is the only way that we will be able to emerge stronger from a situation like this pandemic”
Claire Smart, Randstad Singapore


These are the qualities that the judges of HRD Asia’s 5-Star Employer of Choice 2022 considered in the nominations. Now in its fourth year, this award program highlights the companies offering the best in training and development, work-life balance, health and wellbeing, and diversity and inclusion, among other metrics. The organisations on this year’s list have also demonstrated the effectiveness of their initiatives with high employee engagement scores and low staff turnover.

The 2022 Employer of Choice list includes both small and large companies across a range of different industries, including technology, finance, hospitality and insurance. The companies are based in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, India, the UAE, and the Philippines.

Challenges from new ways of working

As the world moved into a home office environment, many employees felt the benefits of being able to work in their own space, set their own hours, and balance their work and home lives. However, remote working quickly highlighted the need for a new level of leadership – one that considered mental health, individual environments, and social and professional interaction.

Commenting on the impact of remote working, Randstad Singapore HR director Claire Smart says that while it has brought many benefits, isolation, upskilling and personal and professional development have all been issues that employers have had to address – and doing so effectively has become the hallmark of a great employer.

“Working from home is a solution for an imbalance between work and life, but limited social interactions have also impeded professional and personal development,” Smart says. “From mental health to upskilling, employees have started to seek more support from their bosses. Managers need to be more empathetic towards their team members and dig deeper to understand what they need.”

Smart says that because company culture is something that people cannot touch, see or smell, it makes sense for companies to continue building a strong organisational culture when colleagues cannot see one another in person.

“But from our experience, it’s not as simple as shifting everything from in-person to online. A remote work culture functions differently and requires a new mindset, new goals and new initiatives. Gaining the trust and confidence of our employees is the only way that we will be able to emerge stronger from a situation like this pandemic,” she says.

The need for a reinvigorated leadership strategy was echoed by the majority of the Employers of Choice, who found that employee engagement increased significantly when employees were provided with regular communication, social opportunities, and a sense of belonging to a team.

For example, Rini Ajeet, HR head at ECOS (India) Mobility & Hospitality, says that forceful communication has become a “hallmark of a well-developed and well-managed” remote team, and understanding the dynamics of a virtual environment has become a priority for leaders.

“Given the complexities of geographically dispersed team members, team leaders need to be hypervigilant about ensuring that their messages and directives are clear and understood, and they need to be aware of the nuances of responses and feedback,” she says.

Ajeet adds that the company’s leaders encourage collaborative work environments in which all the team members add value to the overall process. “Managing people who are dispersed across different time zones and locations requires team leaders who are able to communicate effectively, and to understand and navigate interpersonal relationships. This also helps to break monotony, and allows the team to be more creative and efficient.”

“Managing people who are dispersed across different time zones and locations requires team leaders who can communicate effectively, and understand and navigate interpersonal relationships”
Rini Ajeet, ECOS (India) Mobility & Hospitality


Moving beyond traditional benefits

Although many companies were offering performance incentives prior to the pandemic, the last several years have seen an enormous rise in benefits to support wellbeing, physical health, and interaction between colleagues.

Many nominees described changing employee expectations when it came to benefits and incentives, with wellness benefits being received particularly well throughout the pandemic. Steven Tan, chief HR officer at City Developments Limited, says that organisations should be constantly reviewing their benefits packages, and making sure that they are in line with what employees need and expect.

“Employees are looking beyond compensation and benefits, with the expectation of a total rewards and recognition package that is customized, transparent, and equitable,” Tan says. His company constantly benchmarks in relation to progressive practices, and applies new perspectives to see how to attract, motivate, engage and retain talent.

“Over the past 12 months, hiring the right talent has been increasingly challenging,” Tan explains. “To position ourselves as an Employer of Choice, we designed our remuneration packages to be based on each role’s impact on the organisation’s revenue and success, the skills and ability of the candidate, as well as their demographic profile. Employees were also invited to provide their opinions and feedback on the organisation’s remuneration and reward system via the biennial Employee Engagement Survey.”

More informal types of benefits were also on the rise, and Marina Sands Bay senior vice president Chan Yit Foon described a new initiative where employees were encouraged to interact with colleagues, and were recognised across three annual cycles for consistent performance.

“We launched a campaign in November where employees were encouraged to show their appreciation to colleagues, managers and supervisors,” Chan explains.

“Over 200 notes were recognised and awarded with monetary incentives. We also have three cycles annually where we recognise employees across two categories – leadership excellence, and the team award. Awards ceremonies have been transformed into virtual events, and the most recent ceremony received approximately 3,000 viewers – that’s six times more engagement than a physical ceremony.”

“Employees are looking beyond compensation and benefits, with the expectation of a total rewards and recognition package that is customised, transparent, and equitable”
Steven Tan, City Developments

Facing the future

Looking ahead to 2022, the consensus is that the challenges will only keep on coming. Smart of Randstad Singapore says that those waiting to return to pre-pandemic days will be waiting for a long time. As of now, the way forward is agility, being able to embrace new tools and technology, and constantly keeping a finger on the pulse of employee needs.

“This decade of disruption has meant that change is the only constant,” Smart says.

“We have to keep up with new technologies, changing skills requirements, and dynamic employee behaviours. HR professionals need to be willing to use new technologies to enjoy better outcomes. Workforce management tools can help to automate administrative work with fewer errors. Online assessment tools can help reduce the time taken to hire new employees. Data can help understand how benefits are being used by employees to determine if they are still relevant.”

Considering the significant change in the role of HR professionals over the last two years, Smart says that their work is “no longer about just arranging for interviews and ensuring salaries get paid on time. HR leaders have been given this rare opportunity to redefine the profession in a way that can help employees find their purpose in a safe and supported environment, so we must seize this opportunity now or risk being left behind”.

5-Star Employer of Choice

500+ employees

  • Accor
  • CBRE
  • Cisco
  • DHL Global Forwarding
  • Far East Organization
  • Google
  • Intel
  • Kerry Logistics Network
  • Keysight Technologies
  • Lenovo
  • L’Oreal
  • Marina Bay Sands 
  • Microsoft
  • Rakuten
  • Samsung Electronics
  • Swire Pacific Offshore

100–499 employees

  • Allianz
  • City Developments Limited
  • Credit Suisse
  • ECOS (India) Mobility & Hospitality
  • Government Technology Agency of Singapore
  • Mars
  • OCBC
  • Randstad Singapore
  • Starbucks Coffee Singapore
  • Uniqlo


In November 2021, HRD Asia issued a call for nominations for its 5-Star Employer of Choice Awards. Companies of every size and from any industry were encouraged to submit nominations. They were asked to describe their achievements and initiatives across a range of areas, including leadership, learning and development, wellbeing, flexibility, diversity and inclusion, recruitment and work-life balance. Entries were scored on the basis of the candidates’ achievements in these core facets of HR, as well as their ability to deal with new challenges resulting from the pandemic.

The HRD Asia team also considered quantitative data provided by each company. These metrics included engagement survey results, average employee tenure and turnover rate. At the end of the research period, 28 companies which achieved excellent results across every metric were selected as Employers of Choice for 2022.