Dr Ko Skin Specialist founder shares how the company empowers its employees
WHEN out and about in central Klang Valley suburbs and major urban centres, you might have noticed signboards across shopfronts featuring a clinic usually in bold white on a blue field – Dr Ko Skin Specialist.
From humble beginnings in 1997, the first clinic was opened by Datuk Dr Ko Chung Beng in Klang, Selangor.
Today, Dr Ko Skin Specialist has expanded to 58 clinics in the country and three in Indonesia.
According to founder Dr Ko, success is not just the work of one individual but is really based on the hard work and dedication of the entire team, as the group would not have become a household name winning accolades over the years without everyone pitching in.
With 606 employees and 113 doctors, Dr Ko shares three tips on empowering employees – encourage them to be creative and innovative; trust and delegate responsibilities to suitable and capable employees; and, embrace ideas and enable employees to prove these ideas can work.
“Treating our employees equally is essential, hence, the human element is extremely important. Because we are in the business of wellness and healthcare, there is a need to be empathetic to the needs and concerns of patients.
“This also includes our own people. If we fail to understand the needs of our own employees, then how can we understand the needs of patients?
“Understanding the needs of our employees creates a solid and healthy work environment, a sense of collegiality that builds a solid working relationship among peers. A key element in fostering a healthy working environment is also to recognise excellence and reward it, and this is practised across all levels,” he says.
Dr Ko Skin Specialist marketing and business development director Dr Lee Kok Siang says that the group recognises employees by rewarding them with trips overseas and opportunities for career growth.
“We have had trips across Asia for our employees as part of the rewards. Previous trips include Maldives, Japan and Langkawi.
“On our most recent trip to Vietnam, the group chartered two flights and gave each employee RM3,000 pocket money. Holidays are just part of how we recognise our employees.
“We emphasise a supportive work environment and provide them with opportunities for career growth and development.
“This is also about empowerment as we provide numerous internal training and sponsor various courses that lead to certification.
“We also have team building exercises as this is important to cultivating relationships across the organisation,” he says.
Other benefits include medical services for employees.
Understanding the importance of education and its impact, the group also gives as low as 1% interest on education loans with conditions to employees’ children.
“These incentives and benefits are our way of showing the employees that they matter, that their contributions to the success of the group at every level is vital.
“Just because an employee is junior or has been with the group for just a short time doesn’t mean his contribution is of less consequence,” Dr Lee says.
Meanwhile, a long serving staff member who has been with Dr Ko Skin Specialist since 2008 shares that the journey has been a rewarding one and not just about being financially secure from having steady employment.
“It is about being valued and given opportunities to excel and improve my skills and knowledge. The people I work with come with all levels of skill sets and education but the management has ensured that all have opportunities open to them.
“The management understands the importance of recognising the work that employees put in and ensuring that their dedication is rewarded. This cuts across all levels of the organisation and makes us a cohesive bunch,” says the staff member.
“To grow to what we are today, there is a need to have delegation and above all, trust,” says Dr Ko.
“I emphasise teamwork and collaboration as this goes a long way to nurture talent as well as a sense of belonging to an organisation while engendering passion for the job.”
Knowledge transfer is also emphasised whereby employees with aptitude are chosen for training, and this includes courses that focus on individual improvement because the group believes in a holistic approach to education.
Overall, the group bases its push on education on the three pillars of internal knowledge transfer, external courses and low-interest education loans to employees’ children.
Dr Ko Skin Specialist’s success was borne out of Dr Ko’s belief that healthy skin contributes to a person’s overall wellness.
The group’s holistic approach to health and wellness is supported by a research and development team that keeps up with the latest trends, treatment protocol and lifestyle management, specifically tailored for Asians.
With the group’s visibility in major urban areas of Malaysia established, Dr Ko has his eyes set on penetrating rural areas of the country.
“Holistic treatment is for everyone, and we have plans to open clinics in smaller towns in strategic locations so that patients don’t have to travel far for treatment,” he says.
There are plans to have up to 100 centres across Malaysia in five to 10 years. In addition to clinics and the Dr Ko Dermaceutical retail centres, the group in 2021 also opened Ko Academy to train doctors and beauticians in the field of aesthetic medicine.
The group also intends to broaden its market reach in Indonesia.