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Essay: SBS Transit SWOT, CSR, culture & organisational structure

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Introduction

SBS Transit Ltd is a public transport operator that provides transportation services for commuters to get from one destination to another in Singapore. It provides an extensive range of transportation services which includes public buses, two Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) lines namely Downtown Line and North East Line, and two Light Rail Transit (LRT) lines, Sengkang LRT and Punggol LRT. As at 2018, it was reported that SBS Transit is the largest public bus operator in Singapore, operating a total of 222 routes and a fleet of 3,471 buses (SBS Transit Ltd, 2019).

SWOT Analysis

Strength: In addition to trunk routes and feeder bus services, SBS has also introduced unique bus services such as Nite Owl services which operates after usual bus service hours between various residential towns and the city. “SBS Transit | Land Transport Guru”, 2020). SBS has an advantage over being the only bus operator that operates the Nite Owl Services, offering a cheaper alternative for late- night rides..

Opportunities: As a move towards being a “smart” nation, it is an opportunity for SBS to explore offering self-driving bus for its feeder bus services. The introduction of self-driving technology to bus services will not only to bring in new forms of shared mobility (“Autonomous Vehicles”, 2020), but also to reduce the manpower shortage commonly faced in Singapore. In National Technology University (NTU), driverless shuttle bus was introduced to ferry students from their hall or the academic buildings. It is also being reviewed to expand to the entire campus.

Threats: However, with artificial intelligence (AI) potentially replacing the driving of a bus, it might lead to displacement of jobs. Since 2000, approximately 1.7 million manufacturing jobs have already been lost to robots. Studies also predicted that there will be a sharp increase in the usage of robots in services industries in the next five years, as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and engineering are becoming more advanced. (Chong, 2019). Hence, more jobs in the service industries will be expected to be reduced significantly in the next couple of years, posing a threat to the economy.

Ethics

Justice approach refers to treating everyone fairly and consistently in decision making. SBS Transit was recently in the headlines after a total of eight SBS bus captains (five in September 2019 and three in December 2019) filed lawsuits against their employer for underpayment of overtime pay and not having ample rest. (Wong, 2019). It was reported that some claimed they had to work for 7 days straight before getting a day off and some mention that the additional hours they worked for wasn’t paid the regulated overtime pay. This led to an ethical issue within SBS Transit which is now being investigated for.

Corporate Social Responsibility

One of the Corporate Social Responsibility approach is the proactive approach which refers to taking initiative to prevent problems from surfacing from stakeholders. Applying it to SBS Transit, it is important for SBS Transit to manage its stakeholder professionally. For example, on 19 July 2019, the North East Line (NEL) operated by SBST faced a 2-hour delay due to track fault. As a result, affected commuters voiced their disappointment via various social media platforms (Twitter etc.). SBS responded to the enquiries and apologised to the affected passengers for causing inconvenience to them (Ng, 2019).

4 Key Elements of Plan

  • Objective: Goals and financial target that the organisation wishes to achieve within a specific time frame.
  • Action: Steps taken by organization to achieve the objectives set.
  • Resource Allocation: A proposal that indicates resources origin and how they will be implemented.
  • Implementation Guidelines: Explains how the desired actions will be deployed and time frame required.

The number of bus captains are expected to increase to 11,000 captains by 2022 to cope with the country’s transportation demands. SBS Transit will need to look into overcoming the lack of manpower. Previously SBS Transit has been offering high salaries and longer annual leaves in hopes to increase the manpower. Shortage of manpower has always been a major issue for SBS Transit as the company also has to overcome competition from fellow competitors who are similarly facing the same issue.

SBS Transit may look into offering driverless buses to further curb the issue of shortage of manpower. With driverless bus service, SBS Transit will see a decrease in the manpower issue as the bus will be fully technology operated. Instead of having multiple bus captains running a single service, with driverless bus technology, then number of bus captains required for a single service will be reduced as the captains no longer needs to drive the bus manually. In fact, a single bus captain might be able to oversee 2 or more services in a day.

This will relieve the pressure of hiring for SBS to hire more bus captains. SBS Transit may consider running driverless services for their feeder services at the beginning before expanding it further to other routes. Similarly, in other cities like Tianjin, driverless buses operate as a part of hundreds of state-led SMART city trial zones that pepper the country, as China pushes to develop urban areas that have automated traffic control (Shepherd, 2019).

As SBS Transit has seen a healthy profit growth over the years, SBS transit can consider investing their earnings for the past 3 years into developing driverless bus services to meet the transportation demands by 2022.

Company Culture

Explain one aspect of a company culture and explain how the chosen company can create a strong culture based on the chosen aspect.

Core values are firm’s principles that are widely shared, that operate unconsciously, and that are considered to be non-negotiable (Gomez-Mejia & Balkin, 2012)

One of SBS Transit’s core beliefs is to strive for excellence in everything they do. When SBS Transit earn themselves the National Trades Union Congress’ prestigious Plaque of Commendation (Star) Award and Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) Recognition Award for adopting the WSQ-certified service excellence programmes in their staff training in 2013, it was published in the Annual Report, displaying its importance of building a strong culture base within the Organization.

Organizational Structure

Unity of Command:

SBS could achieve the unity of command, should they assign a supervisor to each individual bus captain. In this way, the performance and requirements of the bus captain will be closely monitored and well taken care of. Should bus captain express any unhappiness, his/ her concerns are addressed by their respective supervisors in the shortest time possible.

Centralization VS Decentralization

Centralization:

SBS Transit could adopt centralization by handling all the decision making to the upper management level. By adopting this method, SBS transit will ommitt unnecessary/ minor issues raised by employees. (eg: Complaints from bus captains)

Decentralization:

SBS Transit could adopt the Decentralization method by making decisions for the company based on feedback or input by the lower level employees ( Bus Captains). As bus captains are the people who are dealing directly with passengers and experiencing the issue/ problems first hand, by utilizaing Decentralization method will enable employees to feel a sense of belonging to the company which will in return improve the turnover rate of the company.

Span of control:

Narrow: With a smaller span of employees to oversee for each manager, SBS transit would require a larger number of managers to manage their employees. This way the Organization will have a better control on the needs and wants of employees and at the same time require less manpower and reduce overhead costs.

Wide: With a larger span of employees to oversee for each manager, SBS transit would require lesser number of managers, this will help company to cut down on overhead costs, and put the finances into other uses such as improvising bus features to cater to growing demand of the public.

Formalization:

SBS transit can choose to adopt high formalization approach by implementing strict rules and guides for all employees to follow. With more strict rules and more controls within the company, the Organization structure is more clear cut and will have lesser issues and problems by employees.

SBS transit can close to adopt Low formalization approach by cutting down on the rules for employees to follow. This way employees feel less controlled in the Organization and are freer to express themselves. Employee morale will also improve as they have lesser feeling of being an employee.

SBS Transit should adopt the Decentralization method of organization structure as with this method, the organization need not require too much manpower, as manpower shortage has always been a on going issue for SBS Transit. By cutting down on manpower, SBS transit can increase the salaries of the mangers as they will have to oversee more employees. This way the organization will have lesser stress from employees due to the reduced headcount but at the same time maintain the standards of the Organizational structure as the managers are being better rewarded for the ‘extra’ workload.

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