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Unraveling Success- Analyzing the Distinctive Elements of SIA’s HR Practices and Their Impact on Service Excellence and Cost Efficiency

Unraveling Success- Analyzing the Distinctive Elements of SIA’s HR Practices and Their Impact on Service Excellence and Cost Efficiency

More than other organizational resources, human beings influence the success or failure of an organization. Employees are critical in helping work organizations achieve sustainability and competitive advantages. The organization should integrate human resources with the corporate strategy to enhance employees’ effectiveness. Besides, human resources, just like other organizational resources, require effective management and attention to be efficient and deliver results. However, unlike other resources, humans are influenced by the environment and unique individual traits, hence the need for special attention. Organizations use strategic human resource management to link the human resource function as a strategic partner for growth. Organizational activities that reflect strategic human resource management include recruiting, selecting, training, and rewarding personnel to improve performance and boost their morale.

One of the reasons why Singapore Airline’s human resource management practices are unique is that they are relatively strict and discriminative compared to traditional HR practices. Apart from academic qualifications, SIA’s selection process considers an individual’s physical attributes, age, attitude, and ability to collaborate and work with strangers (Wirtz & Heracleous, n.d.). The company requires employees who can share empathy with passengers and act with humility. This is a stark difference with US companies that do not discriminate against employees based on physical appearance or age.

Also, the selection process involving practical tests that other companies do not practice is another unique element of SIA’s human resource management practices. Tests undertaken during the selection process include the water confidence, psychometric, and English competence tests. For instance, the SIA’s water confidence test requires candidates to display their ability to swim, just in case they will be required to evacuate passengers in a large water body (Wirtz & Heracleous, n.d.). By carrying out these tests, SIA ensures it does not take chances or risk recruiting unqualified employees who cannot achieve expectations.

Another human resource element at the company geared toward attaining cost-effectiveness and service efficiency is the extensive training the employees undergo before getting an opportunity to work for the company. Singapore Airlines undertakes functional training and general management training for its staff. Evidence that the company values training in improving employee performance includes the fact that about half of the company’s earnings are spent on functional training (Wirtz & Heracleous, n.d.). Even the newly recruited cabin crew undergo a four-month training program, the longest in the airline industry. Singapore Airline’s training is geared toward enabling the crew to show warmth and friendliness while maintaining confidence and authority when interacting with passengers.

Empowerment of front-line employees charged with the responsibility of controlling quality is the other notable feature of the company’s human resource management practices. SIA operates under the motto; ‘If SIA cannot do it, no one else.’ The motto encourages employees to achieve service excellence as they undertake their day-to-day functions. Human resource empowerment helps employees implement discretionary effort in delivering their tasks without unnecessarily consulting their managers or team leaders (Murray et al., 2022). For instance, the airline’s baggage allowance is 20 kilograms. However, employees may increase it to 25 kilograms or even 50 kilograms if they feel that it is justifiable.

SIA’s unique human resource management practices play a significant role in helping the company stay competitive, improve service efficiency, and enhance cost-effectiveness. For instance, the straight selection and recruitment strategy helps them select the right candidate with respect to education and physical appearance. The strategy helps SIA hire candidates who will not only improve service efficiency but also those who may initiate and attract potential business opportunities (Campion et al., 2019). By hiring fit candidates, SIA reduces the cost of turnover since such employees will work for the company for an extended period. Subsequently, it is needless to terminate them based on underperformance. The strategy also saves the company the cost of training the wrong candidate.

In addition, SIA’s empowerment and employee reward programs play a huge role in improving performance. Empowerment helps employees stay positive at the workplace and deliver the best quality. The front-line workers feel a sense of attachment and leadership when they control quality (Murray et al., 2022). To that end, a top-level manager does not have to monitor quality since the crew can work on strategies that improve performance by themselves. Also, encouraging employees through rewards makes them embrace a sense of accountability, such that they feel obliged to deliver the best services to customers (Murray et al., 2022). Front-line employees interact with customers more often than managers hence; they are the ones who are likely to understand consumers’ pain points.

Despite solid evidence that Singapore Airline’s elements of human resource management contribute to high organizational performance, many organizations are yet to execute them. One of the reasons for this phenomenon is the high cost involved (O’riordan, 2017). Most service organizations focus on improving the short-term bottom line. However, SIA’s human resource management practices are a function of capital expenditure on employee training and patience. Profit-first organizations focus on expanding business operations and gaining market share. These companies believe that paying employees high salaries will enhance their performance, but that is not the case. Besides, pursuing short-term goals blinds companies from failing to align human resource function with the company’s culture and strategy (O’riordan, 2017). Instead of investing in employees to enhance customer satisfaction, these companies rely on short-term and sometimes self-destructive strategies such as sales discounts, which may render the business bankrupt.  The unwillingness to invest in employee training and empowerment, a focus on short-term profitability, and the high cost of SIA’s human resource management strategies make it hard for other firms to implement them.

Notably, some of SIA’s HR practices are illegal in the United States. One of the main elements of the airline’s HR management strategies is recruitment and selection. The company’s policies allow it to discriminate against candidates based on their physical appearance during recruitment. However, such a form of discrimination is illegal in the US. According to labor anti-discrimination laws, employers should not discriminate against potential hires based on sexuality, gender, age, race, and color (Lieberwitz, 2008). To that end, American airline companies are disadvantaged since they cannot discriminate against some candidates to achieve organizational HRM goals.


In summary, human resources is the core organizational resource that determines an organization’s failure or success. Human resources require effective management to attain cost-effectiveness and service efficiency like the rest of an organization’s resources. The organization should also align its human resource function with organizational culture and strategies. Singapore Airlines has successfully implemented HR management strategies. SIA’s HRM strategies aim to boost staff morale, improve performance, reduce employee turnover, and improve service delivery. Unique HRM elements include front-line staff empowerment, extensive training and development, straight selection, and recruitment. These strategies have helped SIA to attain cost-effectiveness and effective service delivery.


Campion, M. C., Campion, E. D., & Campion, M. A. (2019). Using practice employment tests to improve recruitment and personnel selection outcomes for organizations and job seekers. Journal of applied psychology104(9), 1089.

Lieberwitz, R. L. (2008). Employment discrimination law in the United States: on the road to equality? New developments in Employment Discrimination Law, Bulletin of Comparative Labour Relations, (68).

Murray, W. C., & Holmes, M. R. (2021). Impacts of employee empowerment and organizational commitment on workforce sustainability. Sustainability13(6), 3163.

O’riordan, J. (2017). The Practice of Human Resource Management. Institute of Public Administration.

Wirtz, J., & Heracleous, L. (n.d.). Singapore Airlines: Managing Human Resources for Cost-effective Service Excellence – PDF Free Download. Retrieved from website: for-cost-effective-service -excellence.html


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Module 4 – Case
Case Assignment
(Signature Assignment: Critical thinking, Reinforced Level)

After reading required materials in Module 4, review the following case (which is the same case read for SLP 4):

Wirtz, J., & Heracleous, L. (2012). Singapore Airlines: Managing human resources for cost-effective service excellence. Retrieved from

Unraveling Success- Analyzing the Distinctive Elements of SIA's HR Practices and Their Impact on Service Excellence and Cost Efficiency

Unraveling Success- Analyzing the Distinctive Elements of SIA’s HR Practices and Their Impact on Service Excellence and Cost Efficiency

Please answer the following questions in a well-integrated essay:

Describe what is unique about SIA’s five elements of its successful HR practices.
Evaluate the effectiveness of each element’s contribution toward SIA’s leadership in service excellence and cost-effectiveness.
Despite evidence that such practices help service firms achieve higher company performance, many organizations have not managed to execute them as effectively. Why do you think that is the case?
Some of SIA’s HR practices would be illegal in the U.S. Is this fair competition, or are those HR practices encouraging a “race to the bottom” in terms of employee rights?
Bring in at least 5 library sources to help strengthen your discussion. Reference all material cited.

Your paper should be at least 4-5 pages (not including a cover sheet and reference list). Deal with these issues in an integrated fashion rather than treating them as a series of individual questions to be answered one by one. Follow APA 6th Edition guidelines.

For instruction on writing papers, citing sources, proper referencing, and so forth, use Trident University’s Student Guide to Writing a High-Quality Academic Paper.

Upload your paper by the module due date.

Assignment Expectations
Demonstrate critical thinking and analysis of the relevant issues and HRM actions, drawing on your background reading and research.

Information Literacy: Evaluate resources and select only library/Web-based resources that provide reliable, substantiated information.

Give authors credit for their work. Cite sources of borrowed information in the body of your text as footnotes or numbered end notes, or use APA style of referencing.

Prepare a paper that is professionally presented (including a cover page, a list of references, headings/subheadings, and a strong introduction and conclusion). Proofread carefully for grammar, spelling, and word-usage errors.

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