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HR Chua Pek Kim KKH

Nursing employees to a healthy work-life balance

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Chua Pek Kim, director of human resources at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, explains how this round-the-clock hospital enables work-life balance for employees despite the hours.

The demand for healthcare professionals in Singapore has been growing over the years. It will continue to rise because of reasons such as the ageing population and the growth in medical tourism.

However, nurses were one of the toughest positions to be filled by locals last year, according to a survey by the Ministry of Manpower.

Despite these challenges, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) has managed to build a stable and engaged workforce.

What does it take to create a great place to work at? It’s all in the DNA.

Doing what matters to our people

Implementing work-life arrangements may seem daunting at first, but it’s an important step towards building a balanced and fulfilled workforce.

As a healthcare organisation that operates round-the-clock, KKH recognises work-life arrangements as a sustainable route to meeting the needs of the organisation and our employees.

We implemented our structured work-life harmony strategy as early as 1997, with dedicated personnel tasked to develop a wide range of benefits for our employees.

Putting the needs of our employees at the core of the work-life policies was the first thing we needed to pay attention to.

Putting the needs of our employees at the core of the work-life policies was the first thing we needed to pay attention to.

Some of the initiatives we introduced included flexible work arrangements (FWAs) such as a compressed work week and job sharing, as well as facilities such as the workplace child care centre, a fully equipped lactation room and a fitness centre.

Employees can also opt for permanent shifts instead of rotating shifts. These initiatives were implemented after considering the needs of different groups of employees, and are constantly reviewed as our employees enter new life stages.

The need to treat all employees fairly

A common challenge faced by employees on work-life arrangements is the perception that they are less dedicated than their peers. At KKH, however, we recognise employees on FWAs are as committed, capable and productive as their peers.

We also assured those who were on FWAs that they would be given equal opportunities for training and promotions.

When the initiative was first implemented, we actively worked to manage peers’ and line managers’ perceptions of employees on such schemes.

We also assured those who were on FWAs that they would be given equal opportunities for training and promotions.

We employ more than 5,000 employees and over 85% of them are female.

Many of these women are on some form of FWAs. Some have also acknowledged they would not have been able to continue working without these initiatives in place.

Attaining support from management

The importance of senior management support cannot be emphasised enough. Besides formalising policies, senior management also has to walk the talk as champions for work-life arrangements.

To achieve this, we conducted training for line managers to secure their buy-in for the programme.

By helping everyone to understand the benefits of such arrangements, we are facilitating the success and sustainability of these initiatives.

Today, line managers are empowered to approve requests from employees for FWAs. This demonstrates KKH’s strong support for FWAs at all levels.

Today, line managers are empowered to approve requests from employees for FWAs.

With new developments in technology, an evolving work environment and changing employee expectations, it is inevitable the way we work will continue to transform.

These initiatives have helped us to attract and retain talent amid a tight labour market.

In fact, KKH was presented with the SG50 Special Award at this year’s “Best Companies for Mums” contest, organised by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) and the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) Women’s Development Secretariat (WDS), in recognition of our efforts.

Additionally, to signal our commitment to be a fair and progressive employer, we have signed the Employers’ Pledge of Fair Employment Practices.

More importantly, we need to remember that no matter how small the initiative or change is, it makes a real difference to the lives of our employees.

Image: Provided

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