The National Environment Agency (NEA) needs to be strategic about HR. That’s because it needs to ensure the agency continues to have strong and sustainable manpower capabilities to carry out both the short- and long-term plans Singapore has for its environment, which are set out in Singapore’s Sustainable Blueprint for 2030.

NEA’s HR team has developed a structured process to project future workforce needs in tandem with evolving talent trends for the areas of environmental protection, public health and meteorological services. To do this, it coordinates plans with departments on the right size, skills and structure required in the long term. 

In an agency that is both specialised and diverse, this approach helps departments find synergies with other business units and raise competencies of operational departments in manpower planning. 

There are other elements to the strategy. One important part is developing effective and dynamic leadership through targeted leadership programs at different levels, and opportunities for secondment. This has developed deep bench strength, with 100% of key positions having at least two competent successors for the next one to three years. The NEA also sets aside 4% of its annual budget for staff training and sponsorships as part of its desire to create a competent and engaged workforce. 

The NEA embraces flexible work arrangements, a comprehensive range of wellbeing activities, and phone counselling services to build staff engagement. Part of HR’s remit is also meeting the challenge of Singapore’s ageing population. The NEA has been a pioneer of innovation in the area of successfully tapping Singapore’s ‘silver’ workforce. It practises age-neutral recruitment and offers various training opportunities, pre-retirement planning, 
re-employment, job redesign and healthy living initiatives.


The NEA’s attrition rate was only 4.7% in 2015. The agency has won a total of 19 HR awards for best practice, including a UK award for Best HR Strategy (Overseas). Most recently, the agency won the TAFEP Exemplary Employer Award 2016 for engaging, developing and caring for employees.     

9 out of 10 new hires give favourable scores for overall HR services. 
7 out of 10 managers give favourable scores for recruitment and performance management.

8 out of 9 – An independent study found the NEA’s HR function competency was higher than Singapore norms in 8 out of 9 areas, when measured by Dave Ulrich’s HR model.

3 out of 4 graduate new hires have honours and postgraduate degrees.