Hiring a new employee can be stressful, and complicated government permits only make it worse. It, of course, is equally nerve-wracking for jobseekers – especially when they come from overseas.

Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower took on board feedback to address this issue. It used design-thinking to simplify its processes, and won a GovInsider Innovation Award in the process.

“Our aim was to develop a nimble system and one that delivers a great online experience”, the team says. “The previous system was no longer able to meet our policy demands as well as expectations of our customers and citizens.”

MOM engaged users to find out what they expected from the service. “Through this exercise, we have amended rules that used to frustrate users and processes that impedes productivity”, it said.

Complex employment and immigration rules cause “‘fear’ among customers that they might miss out some steps or inadvertently break the rules”, the team said. They hid this complexity from users by giving the website a minimalist look and step-by-step guidance. “This helped to assure the customers that they are doing it right”, it added.

mom 4

Paper communications were also rewritten to be “clear, helpful, human and firm”. “The written notification or letter is either the first or last point of contact with the customers and it has a strong influence on the overall experience of the customers”, the team explained.

mom 1

Since launching the system, MOM has received average ratings of more than 5 out of 6 from customers.

Read more: The Ministry of Manpower’s customer service mantra

Innovation Labs World is a festival of public service innovation organised by GovInsider. It was held on 27 September in Singapore.