Employee well-being has always been a key component of the employee experience, and has come into greater prominence over the past two years with the Covid-19 pandemic. Great Place to Work® conducted a research study in partnership with Johns Hopkins University on How to Promote Employee Well-being in the Workplace: Global Study, which found that globally, 17% of employees are in a high-state of well-being (i.e. flourishing), while in Singapore, only 9% of employees are flourishing.
But what does it mean to demonstrate care for employees’ well-being? And what can we learn from the 2021 Singapore Best Workplaces™? While employee benefits are important in addressing some employee needs, Singapore Best Workplaces™ (“SG Best”) know that authentic care for employees goes beyond this. They recognize that it comprises a complex blend of experiences that shape well-being at work. When employees consistently have positive experiences across areas that contribute to a high level of well-being, they can flourish inside and outside of work.
1. Special and unique benefits with a personal touch
Employee benefits that effectively meet employee needs is the first step to demonstrating authentic care, and SG Best companies recognize this. In fact, 17% more employees in SG Best companies say that they have special and unique benefits as compared with those among the other companies1 (“SG Rest”). This does not mean that companies need to have an infinite list of benefits, but that they effectively meet employees’ needs and expectations. These companies tend to have an underlying people-first strategy that drives their policies and programs in a consistent and holistic manner, rather than introducing benefits on an ad-hoc basis. These companies also tend to customize, and even personalize benefits to meet employees’ needs and preferences.
We have special and unique benefits here.
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- Cadence provides unique and special benefits designed to help employees and their family employees and their family members in different stages of life. During the Covid-19 pandemic, its guiding principle of putting employees first was borne out by asking employees what they needed and then developing programs in direct response to this feedback, such as additional Global Recharge Days and stipends for remote effectiveness and wellness.
- Liftoff Mobile makes a special effort to remember individual snack preferences and dietary restrictions. Liftoffers will often notice that even their beverage preferences are taken into consideration for things like team get-togethers and birthday surprises, which go a long way in ensuring that each individual feels cared for and strengthens their sense of belonging.
2. Financial health and security
Ensuring that employees are fairly compensated and providing financial security is another important component of care. 14% more employees in SG Best companies say that they are paid fairly for the work they do, as compared with those in SG Rest. Beyond fair compensation, SG Best companies also care for employees’ financial health by providing the assurance of financial security and freedom of choice. For example, a number of them go above and beyond by offering additional financial support and assistance in a variety of ways to meet employees’ personal and family needs.
People here are paid fairly for the work they do.
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- To ease the burden on employees facing financial hardship during the Covid pandemic, Micron Technology offered them a COVID-19 Assistance Payment. In addition, it created an employee-supported fund to support team members in need. Individuals could donate the value of their paid time-off or Bravo award points or make monetary contributions through a direct deposit. The Micron Foundation then matched those contributions, which employees could use in times of need. For instance, one employee used the funds to cover surgery costs for a family member.
- TC Acoustic understands that caring for employees includes supporting their financial needs at different life stages and personal milestones. During the pandemic, the first profits it made went to employees in the form of performance bonuses and salary increments. An additional ‘Stress and Suffering Together’ bonus was also given to thank employees for working hard during this period. On an individual level, it also extended a generous interest-free loan to an employee to help ease the financial pressure of being a new homeowner.
3. Mental and emotional support
Cultivating a high-trust culture is fundamental to an environment that builds and sustains positive mental energy. Such workplaces tend to be characterized by leaders recognizing honest mistakes as part of doing business, proactively connecting with and listening to employees at all levels, and an environment where employees feel safe—physically, psychologically and emotionally. Many SG Best companies also have support networks or employee resource groups championed by senior leaders, which foster diversity and inclusion in the workplace. These groups enable employees with common characteristics to interact and learn from one another, and partner with the company to address identified gaps.
This is a psychologically and emotionally healthy place to work.
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- The Parents@Work program at SIX is a peer-coaching program open to new parents, parents-to-be, experienced parents, and managers who would like to understand the challenges of a working parent. SIX believes that colleagues who have been through/are going through a similar situation are well-placed to share their insights and answer questions that new parents may have, and coach them to find suitable solutions to challenges faced. In this program, experienced parents are invited to share their experiences and provide support for colleagues.
- Red Hat’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategy allows every Red Hatter to have a voice and be their best. Its DEI Communities play a critical role by offering a sense of belonging and solidarity, and providing safe spaces for hard discussions. These communities provide forums for sharing best practices, as well as leadership opportunities and visibility to associates from underrepresented backgrounds. There are a number of DEI Communities including the Asian Network, Diverse Abilities, Neurodiversity, Pride and the Women’s Leadership Community, amongst others, which are open to members and allies.
4. Personal support
SG Best companies know that working in an atmosphere that feels safe and respectful, particularly in the amount of flexibility, control and support provided in accomplishing goals, is core to employee well-being. These companies offer employees control and choice in how they manage their work responsibilities alongside personal and family needs; they incorporate flexibility into the workday to support the multiple hats employees wear, and proactively encourage them to balance their work and personal lives.
People are encouraged to balance their work life and personal life.
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- Through the Covid-19 pandemic, the leaders at World Wide Technology encouraged employees to put their families first. To alleviate stress, employees could block time out during the day to focus on children and not worry about work. Altering shifts also enabled parents to better manage their time as they juggled homeschooling or childcare with work.
- boxgreen offers flexible working arrangements to allow employees greater flexibility to manage both their work and personal commitments. It provides staggered time, job sharing, part-time work arrangements, compressed work hours and remote work. Such arrangements allow employees to perform their work on a schedule that meets their lifestyle needs and choices. This, in turn, results in employees feeling happier at work and more fulfilled in their personal lives.
By demonstrating authentic care for their employees, SG Best companies are able to support their holistic well-being needs beyond what employee benefits alone can offer. Unsurprisingly, employees in SG Best companies are two times more likely to endorse their company to friends and family as a great place to work, as compared with those among SG Rest.
1 SG Rest refers to other companies, including Great Place to Work-Certified™ companies, that participated in this year’s survey but are not on the 2021 List.
To see the 2021 Singapore Best Workplaces™ Scorecard,
click the images below.
This article is the third in a series on Employee Well-Being. Read the other articles in the series:
Pamela is our Senior Consultant and Research Lead for Great Place to Work® ASEAN and ANZ. She has over two decades of consulting and policy experience helping organizations in their journey to become fair and progressive employers. She believes that every organization has the potential to be a great workplace, and works with data to distil insights and develop resources to help them. When she’s not burrowing down the rabbit hole of numbers and words, she’s probably immersed in a new K-drama or catching up with friends over a virtual drinks session.