More efforts needed to build better workplaces

Gender equality, inclusion, good work-life harmony are key factors, says DPM Heng

Firms must create workplaces that provide work-life harmony while allowing staff to achieve their full potential regardless of gender or age, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat yesterday.

Mr Heng, who is also Minister for Finance, told an awards ceremony to mark Singapore's best workplaces: "Over the years, employers have also come to realise that to improve productivity and attract and retain talent, we need workplace cultures that recognise gender equality, support lifelong learning, facilitate multiple career tracks, and promote good work-life harmony."

Singapore employers have made strides, but more needs to be done, he added.

The ceremony at Raffles Hotel was held by global institute Great Place to Work, which surveys workers worldwide to get ideas on how to improve the lot of employees.

It has joined forces with Singapore Management University in the past three years to examine 900 organisations and around 400,000 staff members in eight regional countries, including Singapore.

The study asks employees how they feel about their workplace and looks at managerial initiatives to improve workplace culture.

This year's study focused on diversity and inclusion as key factors that help to make a workplace better. It showed that organisations ranked as great workplaces had narrowed their gender gap, were more likely to have a higher percentage of female employees and more than half had a senior leader who focused on promoting diversity.

Mr Heng said: "Women... comprise half of our population, and therefore half of our workforce's talent and potential... Companies where women can fully apply their talents are stronger and more dynamic."

He added that older workers can also be included through job redesign and reskilling.

"We can continue to do more to support productive longevity for seniors, including helping older workers to upgrade their skills in order to take on new roles."

Work-life harmony is also vital: "Increasingly, workers want work arrangements and progressive work culture that will allow them to fulfil their family commitments and personal aspirations."

The hotel Royal Plaza on Scotts won best workplace for medium and large companies in Singapore. It was followed by American software firm Salesforce and logistics giant DHL Express (Singapore).

Singapore-based tech firm Grab made the top 10 list of best workplaces for the first time this year.

Grab head of people Ong Chin Yin said: "Many of our key initiatives were founded based on listening and adapting to the needs of our employees." The company runs engagement surveys every six months to get staff feedback. It also offers a GrabFlex Benefits scheme that allows employees to customise a benefits package that caters to their own needs.

The best small workplace here was employment firm Hays Specialist Recruitment while cloud computing company Rackspace made the list for the first time.

Mr Sandeep Bhargava, Rackspace managing director for the Asia-Pacific and Japan, said: "One of the core fundamentals of any good workplace is a culture of mutual trust and respect, where colleagues practise open communication and truly care for one another."

One of its initiatives allows staff to take paid volunteer time off for causes that are important to them.

Great Place to Work Institute Singapore managing director Evelyn Kwek said: "The ongoing journey of building a great workplace for all takes time and perseverance, but we hope that the incredible efforts... of these organisations will inspire and encourage more business leaders to build an open culture towards diversity, inclusion and belonging."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 07, 2019, with the headline More efforts needed to build better workplaces. Subscribe