Having opened just five years ago, Marina Bay Sands’ primary objective at the time was to get operations up and running. However, the great responsibility of setting up a comfortable work space for a diverse pool of over 9,500 employees was equally important.
Chan Yit Foon, senior vice president of HR, Marina Bay Sands (MBS), explained: “From front-of-house staff such as housekeeping, security and hotel operations; to corporate offices like finance and HR, we had to create an environment that was comfortable, conducive and inspiring.”
Given that this was an important part of MBS’ employee attraction and retention strategy, what did the team do? “We created a mini-city tucked underneath our mega integrated resort complex,” reveals Chan.
MBS’ core workspace, called the Heart-of-House, is an extensive area with offices, kitchens, meeting rooms, lockers, uniform rooms and staff rest areas for over 9,500 team members.
To make the Heart-of-House more than just a workspace, MBS equipped it with a 24-hour convenience store, AXS machines, ATMs, a team member healthcare centre, and a staff concierge desk.
Around the Heart-of-House, departments fully leverage all high-traffic points for various purposes.
These includes for recruiting team members for social and sports activities such as food collection for the needy, engaging them to participate in sports clubs, and holding campaigns such as workplace health and safety.
This mini-city is also a personal and creative space. Blank wall space is nearly non-existent, as MBS has adorned the walls with inspiring messages and themes that tie back to the core business goals.
“We proudly showcase our corporate mission and vision, our work with the community and also our sustainability efforts,” affirms Chan.
Complementing these facilities is what Chan describes as “the jewel in our mini-city” – the team member dining room, where sumptuous meals are provided complimentary to the staff.
“At our two 24/7 team member dining rooms, we serve close to 8,000 restaurant-quality hot meals every day. Providing Western, Chinese, and Malay cuisine, the menus change daily, with special dishes served every Friday and during festivals,” Chan explains.
At a labour-intensive organisation where most employees are on shifts without designated office desks, these dining rooms serve as more than just a place to dine – but as a space for team members to socialise, take a quick rest between shifts, and for quick brainstorming over coffee.
Apart from all the complimentary food, staff enjoy free social activities such as movie screenings, health and wellness workshops and exercise classes.
MBS also has a special employee-only rewards programme, providing attractive discounts at its restaurants, hotel, retail stores, museum exhibitions, entertainment performances, and more.
In the short five years since MBS began operations, it has consistently asked for feedback from employees to identify areas of improvement – in a bid to refresh staff facilities to mirror renewals in the guest-facing areas.
In this line, MBS started the first phase of refurbishment of its changing rooms in 2015, upgrading the rooms to spa-standard facilities.
The men’s changing rooms are fully refurbished to include individual changing rooms, more seats, a rest area complete with beds, shower facilities with rain showers and more.
Adds Chan, “We have just started upgrading the women’s changing rooms and hope to complete the full refurbishment of all changing rooms across the property very soon.”
Alongside, a company-wide office revamp commenced in 2015, where each department was given some guiding principles, and encouraged to devise their office space and layout.
“Besides better utilisation of space, departments are now ‘right-situated’,” explains Chan.
“A good example is the marketing department. Now, divisions such as brand and advertising, e-commerce, creative services, and destination marketing are housed in the same space, facilitating open communication.”
The new office has a bright colour scheme, lowered office cubicle walls and an open meeting space that encourages team huddles and brainstorming sessions.
So what lessons did it learn from the office revamp that others can implement? “The first order of action would be to consider – what constitutes an ‘innovative and interactive workplace’ for a company?”
“We knew that creating comfortable, hotel-quality rest areas will motivate our front-line staff and increase productivity. We also knew that providing quality complimentary meals in a relaxed atmosphere can improve staff morale,” Chan says.
Above and beyond the physical workspace, the resort also wanted to invest in organising activities to strengthen the sense of belonging to the Marina Bay Sands community, an example of which was te hosting of Asia’s Got Talent at our MasterCard Theatres.
“We organised an internal staff talent contest and invited the show’s judges – David Foster, Anggun, Vanness Wu and Mel C to judge our employee talent contest.
“Our Heart-of-House team member dining room turned into a mini studio, complete with screaming and excited team members rooting for their colleagues.”
In conclusion, Chan points out: “Every company’s business objectives and human capital strategy are different. Besides investing in sprucing up the physical space, look at what excites or motivates your employee and what resources you can creatively tap on to achieve this.”