Singapore firms that cared for staff during pandemic among best workplaces

Certis, DHL Express, Foodpanda and Micron Semiconductor Asia Operations were among Singapore's best workplaces award winners. - ST FILE

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/ANN): Software company Cadence Design Systems, semiconductor giant Micron and global logistics provider DHL were among 13 companies that won awards for being the best workplaces in Singapore this year.

Tan Tock Seng Hospital was given a special accolade for resilience during the coronavirus crisis.

Speaking at the awards ceremony organised by global institute Great Place to Work on Monday (Dec 21), Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said that a great company to work for amid the Covid-19 pandemic is one that takes care of the physical and psychological health of its employees.

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo presented the awards to the winners.

Heng said: "A great workplace remembers, and respects, that each of their members may face their own pressures and commitments outside of the workplace and cares for their total well-being."

He noted that taking care of mental health is important and commended awardees who sent regular encouraging notes to staff and provided counselling resources.

"The second quality is that a great workplace is also a place that inspires and supports its employees to care about others - even in difficult times," he added.

"It is commendable that these companies show that they are not only here to do business, but are also here to do good. It makes these workplaces inspiring organisations that their employees are proud of."

To rank the workplaces, the institute got staff to respond to over 60 survey questions that look at areas such as trust and whether the firm helps them reach their full potential.

Staff's experiences of the company's values, whether they could contribute new ideas and how they feel about their leaders' effectiveness, were also factors that were considered.

The survey also looked at what leadership actions firms took in response to the Covid-19 crisis this year, for both their workers and the wider community.

The institute collected 25,000 survey responses that represented 62,000 employees in Singapore.

This year's study found that the best workplaces put their staff first, engaged and communicated with them, and ensured that workers were comfortable with sharing their challenges and asking for what they needed.

Evelyn Kwek, Great Place to Work managing director for Asean and Australia-New Zealand, said: "In times of crisis, people rely on leaders to keep them grounded and informed. In response to the pandemic, leaders at great places to work tapped into the relationships values and trust that were important elements of their pre-pandemic workplace cultures."

She added that employers should think beyond business operations and pay attention to staff work experiences, demonstrate care and empathy and continuously listen to employees.

For instance, the PAP Community Foundation (PCF), one of the winners, saw its management team sending weekly encouragement notes to staff. It also gave a one-off special bonus to staff and even salary increments.

Chief executive Victor Bay said: "A good workplace should have a strong culture of trust with open communication and engagement with all staff and stakeholders, and a strong practice of servant leadership."

PCF human resource division director Albert Seah agreed: "Our commitment in engaging our staff, recognising their concerns and taking the necessary steps to enable them to feel safe and secure in their jobs had won us their support and trust."

Another winner was delivery service Foodpanda. It gave staff a special budget of S$300 to buy items to improve their work-from-home experience, such as desks, monitors or headphones.

It also rolled out a programme to offer workers and their families free remote professional counselling, as well as a work from home portal to provide resources on topics from fitness to mental wellness.

Foodpanda head of people Ingo Laubender said: "What has worked well in the past does not guarantee success going forward. We are encouraged to challenge our thinking and innovate to remain future-proof.

Empathy is also a fundamental must-have in people management, not only with our employees but also our community of riders, restaurant- and retail-partners, and our consumers." - The Straits Times/Asia News Network

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