What do Singaporeans value? According to the 2018 National Values Assessment, Singaporeans have cited work-life balance as one of the top values that they prioritise, amongst others like family, friendship and health.

To boost awareness of the importance of work-life balance among corporates, My Family Weekend organised by the Families for Life (FFL) Council is back this year from 6 Sep – 8 Sep for employers to show support for families and encourage employees to spend quality time with their loved ones.

We pick the brains of management and employees from six companies in Singapore from different industries and sizes, and here’s what they’re doing to create a pro-family workplace:

1. Flexible Work Arrangements (FWA): A compromise between work and familial responsibilities

Many of these companies have embraced FWA to allow employees to be able to work from home if they have appointments or other engagements on certain days, or even arrange for flexible hours (e.g. working earlier and ending earlier). That way, employee productivity can be maintained on top of their fulfilment of familial responsibilities.

Evelyn Lum, Head HR Asia ex-Japan at global finance MNC Nikko Asset Management explains, “FWAs provide options for employees seeking to integrate multiple roles in life. We also see this initiative as a part of talent attraction and retention.”

Indeed, for new parent Hansel Hu, Business Development Manager at IT solutions provider Axension Studios LLP, the work from home initiative helped him fulfil his responsibilities as a father and his professional duties, especially on occasions when there is a HFMD breakout and he needs to take care of his child at home.

2.Catering to different needs

Companies need to understand that work-life initiatives mean different things to different people. As such, companies who are looking to promote family-friendliness at the workplace need to listen to the unique needs of their employee demographics and then work within their means to provide a variety of solutions.

For example, Nikko Asset Management grants two working days of paid family/childcare leave per year for all employees (both married and single) in addition to their annual leave entitlement. The additional two days can be used to take care of children on last minute notice or accompany an elderly relative to the doctor.

In other industries such as utility and hospitality, FWAs may not be suitable for those on shift work. However, Tat Ming, CEO of PacificLight Power assures, “We are always mindful of the balance for our staff who work in shifts and we ensure that our policies ensure they can maximise time with their family.”

3. Promoting family-friendliness is about being flexible and getting creative, not the size of the company

The Ritz-Carlton Millennia Singapore offers employees complimentary passes to various attractions and recreational locations such as the Singapore Zoo and chalets. Says Christine Lee, Manager on Duty at Ritz-Carlton Millennia Singapore, “As a single mom, it is great to have access to these privileges as I can spend quality time and enjoy a day of fun with my children without having to worry about time or cost.”

As a preliminary step for companies aspiring to do better, Benny Chow, Chief Marketing Officer of Firefly Photography suggests seeking out governmental support. Being willing to test out new initiatives is also key -- “if it doesn’t work, you can always scrap it and test new ones,” he suggests.

Tat Ming also agrees that SMEs should engage with focus groups and like-minded companies to share ideas and understand what matters to employees. After all, these steps are part of a vital investment on the employee experience which ultimately reaps benefits to the company in terms of productivity, staff turnover and commitment.

Once implemented, policies need to be clearly communicated. Evelyn shares that “work-life policies are also widely broadcasted and visible in our employee handbook, and these formal processes are documented so employees know we are serious and are committed.”

Armed with the knowledge of such policies, the employees of Nikko Asset Management such as Joseph Wong, Senior Performance Analyst, can continue to bring his best self to work. “I have four children and one has special needs,” shares Joseph. “FWA allows me to be present at my child’s therapy sessions and learn from the therapist about what I need to do and focus on for my child.”

4. Encouraging an accepting and inclusive company culture

A facet that is often overlooked when it comes to promoting family-friendly initiatives is company culture – the success of work-life balance initiatives often depends on the attitudes of management and colleagues.

Apart from numerous family-friendly events, employees of Axension Studios, Firefly Photography and Ohmyhome can bring their family to the office on regular days. At Ohmyhome and Firefly Photography, their office features children-friendly spaces, and Race Wong, COO and Co-founder of Ohmyhome, even has her parents show up at times to help babysit the children.

Benjienen, Digital Marketing Manager at Ohmyhome is one of the employees who brings their children to the office. “Just receiving welcoming smiles from my colleagues whenever I bring my kid in the office is validating, I never feel like my capability is questioned in the workplace.”

This year, FFL is organising a My Family Weekend Picnic with Movie Screening on Sat, 7 Sep for companies to organise a Company Family Day. Families can also look forward to an array of exciting family events taking place over the weekend for some fun bonding time! Visit bit.ly/MFW2019 for more information.