3 SMEs share their pro-family strategies at event

Feedback from staff at 3E Accounting that they were unable to use up their medical claim entitlements prompted bosses to add more options that can be accessed.

Employees, as well as their spouses and children, have been able to get reimbursements for optical, dental, health screening and fitness expenses, including gym memberships, since 2017.

3E Accounting was one of three small and medium-sized enterprises that discussed their family-friendly strategies with about 50 company representatives yesterday at an event organised by the Families for Life Council.

The firms said that with the right systems in place, even small companies can adopt a pro-family approach.

About half of 3E Accounting's 35 staff here are working parents and can benefit from flexible arrangements like staggered hours and ad hoc time off, said general manager Chan Mee Chi.

There is also a playroom in the office for staff to use if they have to bring their children to work when their childcare centre is closed, for example.

Other staff without children can also use the flexi-work provisions to take care of relatives or for personal retreats, for example, Ms Chan said.

The firms said that with the right systems in place, even small companies can adopt a pro-family approach.

3E Accounting managing director Lawrence Chai said the staff are willing to cover for one another: "Team bonding is very important. They know that 'today I back you up, the next time you back me up'. It's a very healthy cycle."

Ms Benjienen Toledo, digital marketing manager for property marketplace Ohmyhome, said employers looking to help staff integrate work and family demands will benefit from hiring those with a good work attitude who fit with the team culture.

"Just hire the right people, then you will be assured that they will not request for excessive family time. They will prioritise and appreciate the company's good intentions and efforts," she added.

Workflow systems and processes at Sciente Group, a technology consulting and recruitment firm, were designed so that team members can easily assist others who have to be away from the office, said group chief executive Jit Nagpal.

For example, in talent acquisition, after a key document has been approved by a manager, anyone can proceed with the next steps as the information would be in the system.

"We believe it is the employer's responsibility to help employees go home in peace," said Mr Nagpal.

Families for Life Council member K. Thanaletchimi, a National Trades Union Congress central committee member and former Nominated MP, said companies should create channels for open conversations so that staff are willing to share their problems and family needs with their bosses and a solution can be worked out together. "When they employ a person, they are actually engaging their family members as well," she said.

The event at the Enabling Village was organised by the council ahead of the My Family Weekend initiative on Sept 6 to 8.

About 200 companies have pledged to adopt family-friendly practices such as telecommuting or allowing parents to bring their children to work on Sept 6.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 23, 2019, with the headline '3 SMEs share their pro-family strategies at event'. Print Edition | Subscribe