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Cheong Meng Fong (DBS) - website featured image

How the little things add up in making a difference to diversity



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Cheong Meng Foong, group head of rewards at DBS Bank, shares her three top tips on creating an inclusive working environment to meet the needs of its diverse workforce.

DBS’ workforce comprises a diverse, multi-generational team, with employees at different stages of their lives and careers. We welcome such diversity as it gives us an opportunity to help them get the most out of their careers and time at DBS, based on their aspirations and priorities.

What does it take to create a working environment that meets the needs of such a diverse workforce? Here are my three favourite tips.

Placing employees’ needs first

It is important to understand there is no one-size-fits-all solution that can meet the needs of all our staff.

Their needs form the basis of our work-life policies. Instead of thinking about what types of benefits we can offer, we turn it around and put ourselves in their shoes.

This allows us to better understand them, and create a flexible system to customise benefits for them, based on their different life stages and needs.

For example, our employees in their 20s are likely to focus on setting up their new homes, and can make use of the range of banking privileges available to them to manage their money more effectively. Staff loans offer better terms than commercial loans, and this greatly helps them in the early years of their careers.

Employees in their 20s are likely to focus on setting up their new homes, and can make use of the range of banking privileges available to them to manage their money more effectively.

Another example would be working mothers in their 30s – they usually have to manage the demands of family life and career progression, so we have flexible working arrangements to help them.

Putting ourselves in the shoes of our older staff, some may want to slow down in their careers near retirement, so they can also tap into flexible working arrangements such as opting for a shorter working week or half-day shifts to better suit their individual needs.

At the end of the day, many of our initiatives are applicable to all staff regardless of their life stages, but we do recognise that some are more relevant at certain stages than others.

Consider the current, but plan for the future

We understand that employees have to juggle both family responsibilities and work commitments, and that can be challenging. We want to help our staff with long-term planning and to be forward thinking.

One of the areas we want to make a difference in is healthcare and insurance. We have reshaped our medical insurance coverage for staff to encourage medical portability so they can continue to be covered even if they’re no longer with the bank.

By taking care of our employees’ long-term health concerns, it’s a way to show we truly care.

Of course, the bank has other initiatives to address present needs as well. We believe it’s the little things that add up.

We have reshaped our medical insurance coverage for staff to encourage medical portability so they can continue to be covered even if they’re no longer with the bank.

For example, we’re increasing paternity leave for staff from one week to two, so as to give new fathers more flexibility and opportunities to be involved when taking care of their newborns.

To promote a more active work-life balance, DBS also practises 5@5, where office hours end at 5pm on Fridays, to remind employees it is time to leave work and spend time with their families, friends or on their individual pursuits.

As a result of such initiatives, we have won this year’s “Best Company for Mums” SG50 Special Award, organised by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) in partnership with the National Trades Union Congress, Women’s Development Secretariat.

Support from the top

Support from the top is important in the implementation of any work-life initiative. Senior management must understand that such initiatives create a win-win situation for both employees and employers.

We encourage our line managers to have regular conversations with their staff to better understand their needs.

They are also encouraged to schedule meetings within core working hours so employees who choose to start work earlier can leave on time to have dinner with their family.

Managers are encouraged to schedule meetings within core working hours so employees who choose to start work earlier can leave on time to have dinner with their family.

Through our people programmes, we want to create a great workplace where employees feel connected and valued, and one that encourages growth and progress. This will help build employee engagement which creates real business outcomes.

We have also signed the Employers’ Pledge of Fair Employment Practices by TAFEP, signalling our commitment to be a fair and progressive employer.

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