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Chin Ai Li, Julia Gabriel Education

Working well through wellness policies



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Chin Ai Li, HR and people development manager at Julia Gabriel Education, highlights how government funding schemes can help implement wellness programmes for a better team environment.

Julia Gabriel Education has seven centres across Singapore and more than 300 staff members. Our HR department looks after the welfare of staff in all of our three brands and we believe whatever we implement at the HR policy level is for their benefit.

Importance of employee retention

Studies have shown that the total cost of turnover can be as high as 90% to 200% of an employee’s annual salary, including the cost of recruitment and new hire training.

High turnover can affect the reputation of an organisation as well as the morale of the existing employees. This is especially true in education where customers develop a strong bond with teaching staff.

With our unique teaching methodology, that of inspiring learning within a positive, engaging and enjoyable environment, we have an intensive on-the-job training scheme across all centres.

I see successful employee retention as an indication of how happy my employees are; the happier they are, the longer they will stay in the organisation.

The total cost of turnover can be as high as 90% to 200% of an employee’s annual salary, including the cost of recruitment and new hire training.

Current business and HR scenarios

We pride ourselves in having a high retention rate as the policies we implement relate closely to our company values – respect, relationships, passion and excellence.

For example, our company places a high importance on nurturing relationships. We listen, take time to care and build positive relationships with our employees. We look into their needs to the best of our abilities.

With the workforce comprising mainly women, they may request for arrangements such as part-time or working from home at different stages of their lives. We try our best to accommodate their requests. This in turn helps to achieve work-life balance that they value.

Being educators, we are inspired by progression. We are constantly learning and evolving to become better educators, parents and people in general.

We do not strive for perfection, but rather pursue excellence. We want to empower every learner to succeed in school and in life. Thus at the HR level, we are constantly looking at appropriate training for our employees.

Our aim was to take care of employees’ wellbeing by encouraging them to lead a healthier lifestyle. It was a challenge trying to meet their needs while being mindful of feasible budgets.

A recent case study

Recently, we won a bronze award at the Singapore HEALTH Award 2014. This recognised our efforts in promoting workplace health in one of the initiatives we implemented two years ago.

Our aim was to take care of employees’ wellbeing by encouraging them to lead a healthier lifestyle so they will enjoy a better quality of life.

This initiative was implemented upon hearing our employees’ needs and feedback. They expressed an interest in group activities to promote bonding with colleagues, which could be extended to their families.

Keeping that in mind I started exploring the possibilities. It was a challenge trying to meet employees’ needs while being mindful of feasible budgets.

It was then I chanced upon the Workplace Health Promotion (WHP) grant, offered by the Health Promotion Board (HPB), providing financial support to help organisations start and sustain workplace health programmes.

For a start, we planned a series of health-related lunch talks and fitness exercise classes such as Zumba and yoga.

Not only did the weekly classes promote a healthy lifestyle, but at the same time provided time for colleagues to bond through exercise.

For a start, we planned a series of health-related lunch talks and fitness exercise classes such as Zumba and yoga.

Thereafter we organised a family day where all employees and their family members came together to enjoy bowling together.

We received positive feedback after the event that it strengthened our employees’ relationships and helped those from different departments get to know each other better.

On top of the weekly classes and the new company wide events, we also planned departmental team-building activities, which provided the opportunity for employees to learn how to improve their productivity and motivation as a team.

These activities included drumming, ice skating, paintball, belly dancing, painting, ukulele and cookery. These proved to be useful, especially for new hires.

Executing all the activities was not as easy as I initially thought. A lot of time was spent on co-ordination – getting people to sign up and attend, and getting them to put in the effort to exercise.

Having said that, I was fortunate to have the support of my HR team together with the heads of departments in the implementation of these initiatives.

Because of our shared values that are a strong part of our company culture, our staff helped in making all this possible.

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