Republic of Singapore Air Force, abbreviated as RSAF, is a first-class air defense institution in Singapore that is mandated with the responsibility of defending Singapore and its interests (Singapore, 2003). The primary role of the Force is therefore a defensive one. It is important to note that RSAF is a renowned Air Force in the world, with much superiority in land and marine battles. The force was established in September 1968, three years after Singapore had gained her independence. By then, the Air Force only had the basic defense capabilities. In 1980s however, RSAF had tremendously developed and acquired air superiority. Furthermore, in 1990s, the primary objective of the Air Force was to enhance the professionalism of its employees. In response to this superiority, it is imperative to conduct a study to identify the sources of such strength. In this regard, the present study seeks to analyze Human Resource Management approaches of the Air Force and its subsequent impact on the overall performance and competitive advantage.

Selection Process

The selection process marks the beginning of success or failure of any company in terms of human resource. In this regard, the RSAF’s success can partially be attributed to the fact that the company has a good procedure for selecting its employees (Singapore, 2008). RSAF’s stringent selection procedure plays a crucial role in helping the company obtain the right people. Despite the very large number of applicants, the company maintains a selection rate of less than 5%. Furthermore, the selection is done on merit basis. This implies that the low selection rate enables the company to select highly skilled people who possess preferred characteristics. Once the candidates have been selected, they undergo recruitment for a period of four months. During this period, the recruits get the chance to know the company better in terms of core business and values (Goh, 2006). This has enabled RSAF to secure a competitive edge against its competitors, who lack such a program. It is imperative to note that the rationale behind RSAF’s act of considering selection as the key ingredient to success is efficiency in service delivery.

Training and Development

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RSAF has further invested heavily in training and development of its employees. This has greatly contributed to the company’s excellent performance (Liu, 1988). The company lays much emphasis on how training and development should be managed so as to obtain a sustainable competitive advantage. RSAF’s emphasis on training can be viewed from one of its slogans, which states: Managing HR for service excellence & cost effective (Singapore, 1990). The primary goal of the company’s training is to produce a crew that provides excellent services. During the training, important attributes are inculcated in the recruits. Such attributes include self-discipline, open-mindedness, ability to adapt to changes in working environment, and creativity, among others. Such skills have been regarded as the drivers of an outstanding performance. It is somewhat interesting to note that in an attempt to help retrenched staff, RSAF embraces training programs alongside workshops on emotion management, career management, and financial planning. Furthermore, the company helps the retrenched staff by offering retraining programs. These are aimed at equipping the workers whose skills have been outdated with new skills. Retraining programs have helped the company reduce the rate of employees’ turnover, further sustaining the outstanding performance (Chew, 1993). As some Human Resource managers put it, retraining costs are far much below the cost of training new personnel. Similarly, by training the existing staff, the company has managed to save on training costs. The finances saved are used to acquire more aircrafts, hence better performance. Moreover, to ensure smooth running of operations, the company provides both functional and management training. Besides, leadership and relationship management with workers is emphasized. Lastly, RSAF recognizes that monotony can lead to boredom, which in turn affects performance negatively. In this regard, the company embraces job rotation. This helps the employees have a better understanding of the entire organization. Besides, it gives room for innovation, which is a further boost to the performance.

Retention Strategy

As mentioned earlier, high employees’ turnover impacts negatively on the performance of any company. It is in this regard that RSAF has devised several mechanisms to help retain its staff (Singapore, 2006). First, the company has introduced a reward system where staffs are being recognized for outstanding performance. Besides being an extrinsic motivator, the reward system is playing an imperative role in retaining existing workers, since they feel that their efforts are being recognized. Furthermore, the company’s Human Resource Management Team lays much emphasis on relationship management. As such, there exists a cordial relationship between the top management and workers. This relationship is crucial in maintaining a high level of royalty among the employees, hence low turnover. From a different dimension, the royalty can be viewed as an asset to the company in the sense that even during times of economic stress, the employees are less likely to put much pressure on the management.


For a long period of time, RSAF has managed to accomplish what remains to be a nightmare to other Air Forces in the world – excellent services and cost efficiency (Singapore, 1984). Such success can be traced from the company’s competitive Human Resource Management which comprises 5 key ingredients. These are stringent selection process, extensive training, retraining, staff empowerment and staff motivation. The Air Force’s vision for XXI century has further stirred growth and development in core areas of operation, viz. technology and people development. These are areas that have been incorporated in the famous AF21 vision. It is therefore crystal clear that RSAF is a First Class Air Force that has succeeded in safeguarding Singapore and its interests.

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