SINGAPORE: CEOs have to "walk the talk" to make pro—family policies work in the workplace and it is necessary for them to see family focus as a business imperative.
These are among some of the conclusions made at a dialogue involving over 150 corporate leaders in Singapore.
At IBM Singapore, there is a mobility room for those who don’t have, and don’t need a permanent desk.
The company’s mobile workers are there only when they need to be.
They are usually out and about or work from home.
The IT firm’s managing director Janet Ang said making mobile work a success took years.
Ms Ang said: "A very simple one is for managers not to ask the wrong questions. The right questions are: ’Do you need help to achieve the outcomes?’, ’What have you done to achieve the outcomes?’. The wrong question is, ’Why are you not in the office?’"
For working mothers, there are two nursing lounges in the same office, with comfortable armchairs, curtains, fridge and even sterilising equipment.
More importantly, they offer the privacy and quiet for nursing mothers to make the difficult transition back to work just a little bit easier.
Ms Ang said: "All these in our opinion are investments. They are not really just cost. They are put in place so that we can support the needs of our employees to enable them to be more productive in fact."
But for smaller companies at the dialogue, investing in pro—family infrastructure may simply be too expensive.
Mr Tay Jih Hsin heads Swee Hin Power Systems, a family business with about 40 employees.
He said it is not all about taking big steps.
Mr Tay said: "You can take small steps, in terms of giving them for staff a few hours off, small steps in terms of encouraging and allowing them to answer calls from family members or children even when they are in the midst of a management meeting. Small steps count."
Big or small, the National Family Council chairman, Lim Soon Hock, is calling on CEOs to take the first step.
"The CEO has got to walk the talk. He sets the tone, promotes (it) and makes sure the culture takes root," stressed Mr Lim.
He added: "It should not just be pure verbiage or that he believes in being pro—family so he can enshrine it in HR policy. It has to be operationalised."
What it means, is setting the family focus as a key performance indicators (KPI) for everyone in the organisation.
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