Thursday, March 17, 2016

Keeping Employees Happy and Productive

Companies in Singapore are starting to give importance to work-life balance as a way to keep employees happy and productive.
Singapore architectural and design firm Ministry Of Design make it a point to let employees clock off from work earlier – 3:30 PM every Friday. This affords staffers of the award-winning company more time to run errands and unwind before the actual weekend.
Office hours at DBS main offices end at 5:00 PM on Fridays instead of 6:30 PM, and the lights are automatically switched off at that time.
OCBC Bank similarly allow their staff to leave work an hour early every Friday.
Standard Chartered employees are encouraged not to organize any internal meeting or conference call after 3:30 PM on Fridays.
It is not just lesser hours but some companies go to the extent of giving their staff extra leave days to promote their well-being.
Property group Lendlease, for example, let their employees take three days of well-being leave every year, on top of the regular 22 days of annual leave. This new leave, introduced last year, can be used to attend a yoga class, go on holiday or pursue personal interests. The company does not even have to be informed of what the employee does.
DBS give half a day to an employee, which can be taken any time during the birthday month.
And Ministry Of Design allow an employee to take the whole day off on his or her birthday.
Singapore Human Resources Institute president Erman Tan feels encouraged that more organizations are implementing practices to improve work-life balance among their staff.
"We are heartened to see more organizations shifting from the one-way-street mentality of getting more out of people, to investing in meeting people's core needs, so that they are inspired to give 100 per cent to their jobs,” he says.
"This will ultimately contribute to a happier and more productive workforce and ensure long-term competitiveness for the nation as a whole."
While all these added benefits may seem counter-intuitive in a time when technology is making work more accessible, a study from 2003 has proved otherwise.
A 2003 study by the Singapore National Employers Federation on 11 Singapore-based organizations found that for every $1 spent on family-friendly programs, the organization reaped a return of $1.68. Companies with good work-life balance saw a higher productivity rate.
These changes couldn't come at a better time too, considering the long hours Singaporeans have been working.
In case, you didn’t know, Singaporeans work at an average of 46 hours per week. This fact places Singapore as the No. 1 country with the longest working hours in the world.
On Tuesday, I was at No. 18, Lorong Maarof in KL’s Bangsar to attend the Bangsar Toastmasters meeting. I must add here that the meeting room leaves much to be desired!

Still, I had two pleasant surprises when I reached there. First, I was given the timekeeper’s role and second, just after the break, I was invited to deliver a speech. In both cases, the respective member was either absent or just not ready.
And that was good news for me because by keeping time, I got credit for my tenth CL award and my CC #4 speech titled “Be a Wordsmith to Impress” represented my thirty-third round of the CC manual. Needless to say, I was voted Best Project Speaker.

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