Rayner Chua, chairman of SCIEX’s Recreation Committee 2015, and Lim Teng Teng, regional director of HR, map out how sports, family and health-related activities can bring down employee turnover rates in this conversation with Jerene Ang.

At SCIEX, one of the priorities is to ensure that each and every employee is healthy and happy through the provision of relevant welfare benefits.

With this in mind, the company formed a recreation committee in 2009, incorporating the framework laid out by the workplace health promotion programme, an initiative by the Ministry of Manpower, Singapore National Employers Federation, and the Health Promotion Board Singapore (HPB).

This committee, consisting of about 20 volunteers from various business units within the company, is responsible for developing and executing an exhaustive roadmap of social activities targeting three main areas – general health, mental health, and wellness interventions, across the entire year, explains Rayner Chua, chairman of the recreation committee for 2015.

This is done with the professional help of an external corporate wellness planning provider.

“Such social activities create a sense of camaraderie among employees and promote team-building spirit and morale, in turn, boosting their productivity at work,” Chua said.

Another thing the company realised was such benefits would help attract and retain more talent.

Workshops, classes and events

Last year, SCIEX was given a substantial grant to be fully reinvested into this year’s programme by HPB. The management also sets aside funding every year to co-support the programme.

The committee now organises a wide array of recreational activities for the staff, ranging from weekly sports sessions of basketball, badminton, futsal and running to quarterly dance classes for Zumba, K-Pop, and aerobic classes after office hours.

With a view to improve intra-team synergy, it also hosts events throughout the year, such as barbecues and parties for Christmas, New Year and D&D, as well as an annual one-day outdoor adventure for employees and their families on the long-running family day.

Other than that, the company reimburses the cost of visiting a predetermined local attraction, should an employee visit the attraction with their family members. Last year, more than 300 people, for example, went to River Safari, while this year’s location was Madame Tussauds Singapore.

Social activities create a sense of camaraderie among employees and promote team-building spirit and morale, in turn, boosting their productivity at work.
Health is also on the radar for employees who are encouraged to take part in running competitions for good causes. For many years, SCIEX has participated in the Standard Chartered Marathon and in September, the team is also joining the 2015 Race against Cancer.

“Those who finish the entire run will be fully reimbursed for their participation,” Chua said.

For more targeted interventions, the committee engages an external healthcare provider who brings in professional groups to host lunch workshops, where employees are given practical tips on adopting healthy lifestyle choices and improving their mental wellbeing.

Lim Teng Teng, regional director of HR, added: “We have hosted lunchtime workshops on forming healthy dietary habits and after-work exercise sessions as part of the programme.

“We also host diverse healthcare programmes monthly. In June, we resumed our cholesterol intervention programme for employees.”

The programme, which usually spans two months, focuses on the education of cholesterol-related diseases, creating awareness and encouraging healthy behaviours.

Running smoothly

Usually, implementing new programmes comes with its challenges. However, Chua says the efforts so far have been “largely smooth-sailing”.

“Some of the sessions and workshops were so popular we had to schedule a certain talk twice because the first one was fully booked and there were still people who wanted to sign up.”

The only challenge at the moment, he notes, is that some programmes are preferred by female employees, while others by male employees.

“To resolve the issue, we are continually introducing a variety of activities that will appeal to both genders,” he says.

Improved health

As an outcome to the initiatives, more than 200 staff members have signed up for the annual free-of-charge health screenings.

Some of the sessions and workshops were so popular we had to schedule a certain talk twice because the first one was fully booked and there were still people who wanted to sign up.
“We have observed decreasing trends in a number of problems like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, etc,” Chua said.

Lim added: “For example, the percentage of high-blood high-risk members has decreased from 14% in 2013 to 9% in 2015.”

She notes similar decreases have been seen with the underweight and overweight members of the workforce as well those in the high cholesterol category.

“In addition, our teams are performing better and we have always sustained a lower-than-industry-average turnover rate for many years,” Chua said.

“I believe the programme is showing results incrementally, and delivering both tangible and intangible health benefits for our employees.”