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Making work-life work

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Studies worldwide have reaffirmed the numerous benefits of implementing work-life programmes – here are three organisations that strongly prove the case for it.

In today’s workplace environment where employee preferences evolve at a rapid pace, employers cannot afford to ignore the importance of work-life harmony as a tool to engage and motivate their talents. Organisations have to adopt an inclusive approach to managing their workforce in order to attract, retain and enable them to contribute effectively through their various life and career stages.

A study by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP), aimed to quantify the benefits of work-life programmes, was released in 2018.

This included an in-depth engagement with 26 pro work-life companies to draw out key characteristics among them. It found that participating organisations outperformed the average Singapore company in terms of talent attraction, retention and healthcare costs.

In fact, the average percentage of annual unfilled positions of participating companies was at a low of 6% in comparison to the Singapore benchmark of 33.3%. Participating organisations also enjoyed a lower annual resignation rate of 1.3% as compared to Singapore’s benchmark of 1.8%.

Moreover, they also experienced additional cost savings in terms of lower healthcare costs per employee at S$844.40 as compared to the Singapore benchmark of S$946.00. For organisations with good work-life strategies, these numbers validate the investment made into creating a supportive work-life culture.

In the course of engagement, TAFEP recognised it is solely not just the implementation of work-life programmes that has resulted in these positive outcomes.

Focus group discussions and an employee opinion survey with 2,115 employees across the 26 companies revealed that pro work-life companies also tend to have strong leadership support for work-life, enabling HR policies, as well as a workplace culture¹ based on trust and performance-orientation. All of these have enabled employees to manage their work responsibilities alongside their personal goals more effectively.

Perhaps now is the opportune time to implement work-life programmes if you have not done so. Let’s learn from three organisations that have successfully implemented work-life strategies as part of their overall human capital strategy.

ROHEI

“Flexible work arrangements (FWAs) are for everyone,” is the belief that consulting firm ROHEI Corporation testifies to, in the words of its chief executive Rachel Ong. The genesis of work-from-home was in the company’s inception back in 2007, where Ong and her small team used to work at the basements of colleagues’ homes before moving to Shenton House.

In the past two to three years, however, such FWAs have taken on a more formalised structured feel, with ROHEI having adopted the Tripartite Standards² on the Flexible Work Arrangements, Recruitment Practices, and more.

These continue to be underpinned by the belief that such work-life programmes (WLPs) will help staff integrate their work and family responsibilities more effectively, which will ultimately benefit the business. As Ong says: “When we add value to our employee’s lives, they will add value to the company.”

Our staff say that FWAs make them more focused and motivated to do their job well, and also enable them to manage both work and family responsibilities more effectively.
– Rachel Ong, chief executive, ROHEI Corporation

Such WLPs include reduced hours (that especially help returning mothers); differentiated reduced hours (where a staff works 35 hours with the option to telecommute from home to care for their children); part-time (where a staff works 35 hours and less); flexible work timing (staggered window of two hours); compressed work (given the physical tiredness experienced by staff in setting and tearing down for events, they can now avail a work week of 12 hours per day, four days per week, with one rest day to recharge); among several others.

The list of benefits since putting these in place speaks for itself – higher productivity, stronger engagement, improved staff morale and better customer service, affirms Ong.

“Our staff say that FWAs make them more focused and motivated to do their job well, and also enable them to manage both work and family responsibilities more effectively.”

Additionally, for the “Great Place to Work” survey in 2017, ROHEI attained a 93% trust score, one of the highest seen across global participation – thus negating any worries around staff misusing the flexibility policies.

DLE M&E

Construction is not the first industry that comes to mind when talking about work-life strategies – yet this mechanical and electrical contracting firm is looking past convention to progressive practices. “Many people think that work-life programmes are about telecommuting or flexible hours. There are other forms of work-life, such as employee support schemes, which is what DLE focuses on,” explains Sarah Tham, associate director, finance and HR, DLE M&E.

An adopter of the Tripartite Standards on the Employment of Term Contract Employees, Grievance Handling, and more, DLE M&E is a strong believer in creating a family culture for its staff, comprising site supervisors and foremen, and office staff (project managers, engineers, service support).

Given the nature of this sector, admittedly FWAs are very tough. Site staff have to be available, often at project sites, for up to six days a week attending meetings and more – thus, working from home isn’t an option.

Many people think that work-life programmes are about telecommuting or flexible hours. There are other forms of work-life, such as employee support schemes, which is what DLE focuses on.
– Sarah Tham, associate director, finance and HR, DLE M&E

Instead, for the convenience of these staff, a web-browser Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software has been implemented which allows employees to submit quotations and other such documents offsite. An HR mobile app has also been rolled out whereby staff can submit their leave, as well as view their payslips, helping to increase staff’s mobility.

As for in-office staff, DLE M&E lays a focus on workplace health programmes, weight management (such as free health screening or exercises), and regular team bonding activities such as kayaking, archery or bowling. Among other key initiatives, DLE M&E also organises lunch talks for staff by partnering with health, bank and insurance providers to educate them on topics ranging from healthy eating to financial planning.

Does all this help? Without a doubt, as Tham reveals: “We are helping our employees stay healthier. This means they fall sick less often, resulting in reduced absenteeism and higher productivity!”

Maybank Singapore

With a corporate mantra of “humanising financial services”, Maybank Singapore certainly relies on the human touch in building its employer brand. “We take a life cycle approach to providing such activities and initiatives, beginning from the time they join as a Maybanker,” reveals Wong Keng Fye, head of human capital, Maybank Singapore. Its wide-ranging repertoire of programmes helps to cater to the needs of its diverse workforce which comprises some 39% Gen X, 52% Gen Y and 9% Baby Boomers.

Amongst the most popular work-life programmes that emerged in their employee surveys are flexible work arrangements (FWAs) and leave benefits. In particular, Maybank’s leave benefits go beyond the statutory and industry practices, including extended maternity leave for up to a year and sabbatical leave for up to 24 months. Eligible employees who go on sabbatical leave also get to enjoy benefits such as medical coverage and retain the opportunity to return to work after their leave.

We take a life cycle approach to providing such activities and initiatives, beginning from the time they join as a Maybanker.
– Wong Keng Fye, head of human capital, Maybank Singapore

It comes as no surprise that Maybank is an adopter of the Tripartite Standards on Age-friendly Workplace Practices and Unpaid Leave for Unexpected Care Needs, among others. By adopting work-life strategies to help staff fulfil both their work and family commitments, Wong shares that it keeps the workforce motivated, builds a more cohesive work culture and increases the bank’s ability to attract the right talent.

As a result, Maybank is able to improve staff retention rates. He adds: “The consistent low attrition rate translates into high employee engagement and a competitive edge. It also promotes a sense of unity and teamwork which helps the entire organisation better adapt to the changing business landscape with more agility and ease.”


Visit worklifeworks.sg today to learn how to implement work-life programmes at your organisation.

[1] Key themes in the current workplace culture across the 26 companies were found to be: Accountability & Teamwork, Goals & Results Orientation, High Employee Engagement coupled with low cultural entropy.

[2] For more details on the various Tripartite Standards, visit tafep.sg/tripartite-standards



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