A SLUMBER party, a steamboat lok-lok truck party and a Songkran-themed water fest – all these sound like what friends do together, and surely not something you would picture as an office soiree.
But at Forefront International, all these make up part of their work culture.
The agency’s digital and creative chief executive officer Darien Mah said they were necessary activities to keep the mood light and the friendships strong among his team.
“We have done plenty together – watching movies are pretty standard, but we are also into sports, games and parties.”
He said the fun stuff is a big part of what the company does to cultivate values.
Forefronteers geared up for a Laser Tag battle during one of their monthly activities.
“Workplaces are not always conducive for friendships to blossom when people have expectations of one another.
“When you have a venue where stress is low and you add fun into the equation, you create bonds that are stronger than ordinary friendships,” said Mah.
The company’s different take on workplace culture has made Forefront International an exemplary employer, as it walked away with the gold title for Best Employer (under RM25mil) at The Star Outstanding Business Awards (SOBA) 2016.
Being a good employer, Mah said, a company has to understand that job satisfaction is above all, what makes a team strong.
He shared that job satisfaction involves many different aspects, including work-life balance, purpose and a sense of ownership, in addition to the fun perks and benefits.
“We keep our team fulfilled and challenged with what they do; having a list of reputable clients in the property industry means that there are a lot of exciting jobs to keep us pumped up.
“When they are proud of what they do, it really keeps them motivated.”
By working with some of the best names in the property industry, Mah said his team gets to learn about property investments first hand.
“We even have a first home incentive scheme for team members looking to purchase one,” he said.
Mah disclosed that trust helps his team work at ease in their work environment.
“We are open about our pricing system. In fact, knowing the numbers gives the team a sense of accountability and ownership – this is what makes us different,” he explained.
The company does not save on investments for additional employee benefits, he said.
“We spend about RM15,000 on each employee when it comes to company trips, training and also allowance awards.”
His team has been to various countries including Australia, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and they also have training sessions to improve their work skills, as well as for character-building and development.
Today, the company has developed into a workforce of 94 like-minded individuals, with overseas branches in London and Hong Kong.
The company is now in the midst of diversifying its clientele to keep work interesting for the team.
“We even offer job role switches, and that means providing opportunities for team members to experience work life in our overseas branches, much like an exchange programme.
“We are hoping to give them a new zeal and passion to work and live with these experiences as we continue to try our best to understand their needs and aspirations,” added Mah.
With the company’s lean size, they also have the liberty to create job functions in which his team can excel in.
“Team members are not confined to just one role.
“I don’t have just one person to do a certain task – some are good in strategic planning, some like to talk, some can shoot videos and do programming – they are all encouraged to try different things.
“The team is given ample opportunities to work out their different strengths or interests,” shared Mah.
Besides clients’ assignments, they also work on their own projects and charity causes to give the team a larger sense of life.
“Four years on, and I still find myself looking forward to coming to work,” said Forefront credit administrative executive and personal assistant to chief executive officer Ainil Bashirah Mohd Amran.
While she looks forward to the places they go to on company trips, Ainil said it was because she got to go with her friends.
“The bond we have is really strong; we’re not just mere colleagues, and that makes our activities together all the more meaningful.”
Forefront’s senior creative designer Eric Ho also noted the contrast in different workplaces.
“Some of the things we do are really quite different; since we’re a full-fledged agency, we get to explore a lot more different things to work on and grow other areas of interest,” said Ho.
Now, the company may have given another reason for one to vie for a job at the company – its very own cafe.
Just two doors away from their office in Dana 1 Commercial Centre, Mah said they’ve taken over a burger joint to build their own cafe.
He hopes it will give his team easier access to coffee and healthier food options at minimum cost.
“I always see my team having difficulties looking for good wholesome food, and they love coffee.”
The cafe will even carry some of the agency’s flair, as their expertise in interior design will translate into the look and feel of the place.
Mah said the cafe is not for generating revenue, but it could be something the employees can possibly benefit from.
The cafe will be open to the public should anyone wish to take in the energy of the vibrant company.
Well, if you cannot work with them, at least you can have a ‘taste’ of what it’s like!