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5 ways you can become a progressive employer

5 ways you can become a progressive employer


An in-depth look at the five building blocks of employers for whom “good enough” is simply not good enough.

At the Tripartite Alliance Award 2021 held on 16 August 2021 (Monday), Singapore’s Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) released a report—titled Beyond 20/20: DNA of Progressive Employers—showcasing five ways employers can adopt progressive practices in their organisation.

“The path towards building the five blocks is not a linear process and requires employers to constantly align/realign their organisational essentials (such as culture, organisational commitment, and communication) with their pathways (such as the policies, practices, and programmes).

“This alignment requires leaders, HR, managers, and employees to all work together,” said the report.

As such, Beyond 20/20 suggests five ways employers can inject progressive DNA in their organisation. They are: collaborative networks, employee voice, continuous evolution, talent optimisation, and holistic care.

Each “molecule” is explained further below, with pre-requisites that employers must have to support their journey to become progressive in their employment practices (dubbed as ‘essentials’); core actions that employers execute (‘pathways’), and tangible impact that organisations can observe (‘impact’) by adopting the aforementioned progressive DNAs.

#1 Collaborative networks

This DNA represents how employers cultivate mutual trust between the organisation and employees, as well as between employees; social capital for open communication, and employee relationships.


For this to happen, the organisation must build a culture of mutual trust and inclusivity through, for instance, collaboration and treating one another fairly regardless of seniority or role—and provide holistic support for employees’ emotional wellbeing and career development.

This will not only allow better understanding of employee diversity and greater appreciation of each person’s unique capabilities, but also foster a sense of belonging in the organisation.


To reach ‘collaborative networks’, the organisation can implement programmes and policies that embrace diversity and build relationships. It will help to cultivate empathy and reduce unconscious biases at workplace – which enables better alignment towards business goals.


With this DNA, the report highlighted organisations will therefore possess a stronger employee retention rate, as well as a work culture where knowledge exchange can frequently happen.

#2 Employee voice

This is where employers value employees’ feedback and leverage multiple platforms for employees to share their views and to surface concerns to top management without fear of negative repercussions. Not to mention, take appropriate action on feedback given.


To embark on a journey towards this, organisations must first own a culture of psychological safety (through welcoming feedback), and engage in follow-ups on the feedback. Such open communication not only empowers employees to play a role in strengthening their organisation, but also motivates employees to voice their opinions.


To that end, organisation can create programmes or opportunities that motivate shared responsibilities, open up constructive dialogue, and allow employees to reach their leaders through various communication channels. These will ensure that all employees have their voices and opinions heard.


This DNA brings a sense of ownership to employees in the organisation’s decision-making process, thereby improving engagement levels at work, as well as a culture of candour which allows genuine relationships to be formed.

#3 Continuous evolution

The third DNA is where employers embrace change and continually improve their processes, programmes, and practices to achieve superior business outcomes. This essentially means that they are, for instance, willing to experiment with new ways of working to improve the status quo and leverage data to track and measure effectiveness.


'Continuous evolution’ would require employers—and employees—to have courage to challenge norms and assumptions, openness to ideas and processes for experimentation, and receptiveness towards change.


Organisations can look at three things: having accountability, showing adaptability, and conducting periodic reviews. These are crucial for the organisation to address possible gaps in its business, make improvements, and help employees embrace organisational changes.


This will promote a healthy exchange of different ideas and insights, thereby increasing creativity and innovation, as well as showcase the organisation’s agility in and synchronicity to an ever-changing world.

#4 Talent optimisation

In the case of ‘talent optimisation’, employers look beyond employees’ current capabilities by considering their future potential. They leverage employees’ strengths and capabilities by investing resources and providing fair opportunities to facilitate skills development thus enabling employees to reach their full potential and safeguard their employability.


A culture of continuous learning and professional and personal development, through peer learning, on-the-job coaching and mentoring, and short workshops, to boost employees’ employability are two areas required at the organisation to pursue this DNA.


Some suggestions from the report include upskilling, job crafting which gives employees freedom for experimentation and for identifying skills gaps, and lifelong employment that does away with retirement age cap.


This molecule will provide a sustainable talent pipeline (because employees can now fill up any talent gaps in the future) and a sense of meaningfulness at the workplace since employees have the ability to contribute to the organisation’s success with their unique skillset.

#5 Holistic care

This is where employers adopt a holistic approach to caring for their employees’ wellbeing. They provide adaptive workplace programmes and practices, as well as different career pathways and work arrangements, to better meet employees’ career and life stage needs and aspirations for professional and personal success.


With regard to what an organisation needs, it will be a culture of mutual respect and empathy and of valuing workplace wellbeing. In other words, not only is employee wellbeing cared for, but also the environment where the employee works at is being cared for.


To reach ‘holistic care’, organisations can, for one, demonstrate flexibility which isn’t confined to work arrangements, for instance, but expands to other areas like schemes and initiatives like job redesign and redeployment to capitalise the strengths of employees to better suit the organisation and employees’ needs. For another, to support and develop employees in meeting their goals so they can accomplish their future career goals.


With this DNA, organisations can expect to have high employee engagement and work effectiveness, as well as job satisfaction because employees are now able to thrive at work wherever they are, whether is it in or outside the organisation.

ALSO READ: How to build a respectful and harassment-free work environment

Image / 123RF

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