TAFEP Hero 2023 June
Case study: How Novotel Singapore on Stevens celebrates and empowers its older employees

Case study: How Novotel Singapore on Stevens celebrates and empowers its older employees

To start with, mature talents working with Novotel Singapore on Stevens are offered open contracts with no 'expiry dates' to allow them to work as long as they are comfortable. 

In Singapore, one in four resident workers is aged 55 and older as of 2020. As the average life expectancy of workers increases thanks to quality healthcare and living conditions, while birth rates grow slowly, older workers have become a crucial solution to the strain faced in the country's labour supply.

Giving impetus to this, Ministry of Manpower has confirmed that the raising of retirement and re-employment ages will go ahead as planned in 2022, a move that is expected to not only help older workers build up more savings, but also avail the choice to stay active and work longer if they would like.

The ball is now in the court of Singapore employers to be inclusive and recognise the importance of learning from and growing alongside the ageing population.

On the occasion of the International Day of Older Persons (IDOP), which falls on 1 October, HRO partnered with Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) to spread awareness about the valuable contribution of senior citizens in our society and share best practices organisations have put in place.

Novotel Singapore on Stevens is one such employer that consciously enables and celebrates the contributions of its older employees. Recognised as a 'Silver Generation Champion', mature talents working with the hotel are offered open contracts with no 'expiry dates' to allow them to work as long as they are comfortable. 

We spoke to Leslie Lenus, Area Director of Talent & Culture, Novotel Singapore on Steven (pictured above) to find out more such practices in place:

Q What is the business need that pushes you to equip and nurture your older workers?

Strategic manpower planning needs are critical to sustain organisational adaptability in the long term to stay competitive. We encourage all of our talents to be lifelong learners, and took deliberate proactive measures to develop and upskill our mature talent with a goal to create longer and meaningful careers for them. This allowed us to leverage on their strengths, and created the desire to build their competencies and abilities.

Q Having been appointed as a Silver Generation Champion, tell us about the initiatives you’ve developed for your mature workers.

Recruitment and selection

We started by establishing an open, inclusive and diverse culture. We adopted fair employment policies, as well as hired and developed talents based on their abilities. While we understand that it is common practice to offer mature talents with yearly renewable contracts, we offered all mature talents open contracts (with no expiry dates) and pay equity (just like any other talent in the company). We strongly believe that age is not a predetermining factor, but rather a reflection of one’s passion for the job.

I am an advocate of the saying, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”. I hope that by creating a lifelong learning culture and offering equal learning and development opportunities for all, these mature talents will find their jobs meaningful, and feel inspired and motivated. Their years of experience, in addition to qualifications, are invaluable to the company.

Job redesign and learning & development

We enrolled our mature talents in Workforce Singapore’s Job Redesign Reskilling programme. For instance, three mature talents and one talent with unique needs from the linen/houseman team completed their job redesign training programmes, which consisted of classroom training, and they were upskilled with new technology and capabilities such as linen/uniform operations, etc. One of our mature talents was also promoted after completion of the job redesign and is now the supervisor who leads the team.

Flexible work arrangements

We offer our mature talents family-friendly shifts so that they can rest well and enjoy their family time. We also relooked at their job scope and ensured that they were physically manageable and safe, e.g. no heavy lifting or climbing on ladders/high places to clean.

Silver Gen Champion

As the Silver Gen Champion, I led the team to embrace our mature talents and develop best practices for them.

Q What is your advice to employers on successfully implementing HR strategies in support of mature workers?

Do not be afraid to take the first step. With a vision to hire mature talents, maintain an open mind, be an active listener, and work on these talents’ strengths.

Lee Ee Lang @Lee Ee Nong (better known as Uncle Lee), 73, is a Housekeeping Attendant who joined the company on 17 July 2019, and has been an exemplary role model to his colleagues. "He is extremely hardworking and has never complained and always lends a helping hand to his team, performing beyond his job scope," the Novotel Singapore on Stevens team tells us. 

In addition to managing his own responsibilities, Uncle Lee is a mentor/buddy for talents with unique needs. Not only is he very patient with them and looks after their welfare, but he also activates job shadowing so they can learn from him. A lifelong learner, Uncle Lee has recently completed the job redesign reskilling programme and his role has since been enriched with linen operations.

aditi article for tafep 2

We catch up with Uncle Lee (pictured above) to find out the secret behind his his starry smile:

Q Uncle Lee, you are known as a leader who walks the talk. Can you share some of your advice with us?

Maintain a positive mindset and be willing to share and teach. Be a lifelong learner, and do not be afraid to learn from your juniors.

Q What is your secret to conducting successful on-the-job training for talent who are shadowing you?

For training, firstly believe in the talent’s capabilities, be patient, guide them, and support them. I will also share my experiences/advice and listen to my colleagues.

3. How do you keep up with the pressures of the job, newer technologies, and new working styles?

Practice makes perfect! My supervisors will simplify the learning materials for my easy understanding. They will demonstrate the task to me and give me time to practice.

Novotel Singapore on Stevens is an adopter of the Tripartite Standard (TS) on Age-Friendly (AF) Workplace Practices. This Standard outlines a set of practices for employers to adopt so as to create a conducive and inclusive workplace for older employees, which includes:

  • Age is not a selection criterion used when advertising for, shortlisting or selecting job candidates.
  • A member of the senior management is appointed to champion age-friendly workplace practices.
  • Older employees are trained to perform their jobs effectively.
  • Workplace health programmes for older employees are implemented.
  • Jobs and workplaces are designed to be age-friendly.
  • Older employees who are not at the maximum of their salary ranges and have satisfactory work performance are given annual increments, if other employees are also given annual increments.
  • Employees are engaged on re-employment issues at least 6 months prior to reaching the retirement age of 62, and for any subsequent extension of the re-employment contract. Employees are offered re-employment contracts at least 3 months before they are to be re-employed, with a duration of at least 1 year.

For employers who want to find out more and to adopt the standard, they can visit TAFEP.

Photos / Provided

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