Happy Staff, Happy People

During the recent general elections, one of the common rhetorics I’ve read online is that Singapore government’s emphasis on GDP growth has led to stressful working environment. I don’t profess to understand the logic with the above statement. To my limited economic and governance knowledge, GDP is just a number for the government to measure the health of Singapore economy.

With regards to a stressful working environment, I always think that it is in relation to the job scope, colleagues, office politics, work environment and company culture, no?

In the recent decade, we have gone through some major economic crisis – Asian Financial Crisis in 1997, Dot Com Bubble Burst in 2000 and Global Financial Crisis in 2008. During these crises, many companies went into cost-cutting mode where many staff were retrenched and the people who were left in the company were forced to pickup the extra workload and job responsibilities. These continued for many years and even during good times, many companies were still cautious about employing more staff. The companies wanted to keep themselves lean and nimble so they would be able to handle any economic downturns come what may. Some companies may even rationalise that if the current staff was able to pick up the slack by working harder and longer hours without the company increasing the headcount, why not?

In the past 1.5 years, pockets of the world economy recovered in an astounding rate and Singapore’s was one of these. However, some and maybe many companies did not or were not able to react fast enough, many employed people were left to work harder and longer hours to compensate for the increased workload. This increased stress and caused many people to become unhappy working people.

When I noticed my staff were overworked, I checked them and find out if they would need additional headcount to alleviate their workload. Recently, when I think an internal team of 2 staff were overworked and they were working at a capacity of 120% each, I recruited a new staff to join their team and now each of them are at about 80% capacity. I don’t think it is right to overwork my staff at over 100% capacity for long periods of time. This is neither healthy nor efficient.

All along, my staff has been operating on flexi hours. As long as their work is done and do not inconvenience their team members, my staff can start work later and leave earlier. We’ve mostly, if not all already, moved our documents and software (SaaS) to the cloud. My staff now has the flexibility to work from home if they choose to do so. They would more than happy to choose this option especially when there is a heavy downpour in the morning during rush hour. They get to keep their socks and shoes dry.

Being a boss, I would want my staff to be happy and enjoy their work. Singapore being one of the developed countries with the least number of public holidays (11 days), on top of the standard 14 days leave per annum, my staff gets off days on their birthdays. As we are SingaporeBrides.com, it only makes sense that our married staff get off days on their wedding anniversary. As we also operate SingaporeMotherhood.com, on top of government’s stipulated childcare leave, I’ve given my staff off days on each of their children’s birthdays.

As my staff number has increased and I’ve been pondering on how I can reward their years of service with the company. I’m never one who is big on paper certificates or engraved pens. After much contemplation, I decided it is best for my staff to mark and celebrate their anniversary with an off day.

I just announced this new off day to all my staff today. 🙂

When Singapore’s life expectancy is at 80, assuming our working lifespan is 40 years, we would be spending half our life working. It is therefore important for people to be happy in their work. In order to achieve work-life balance, I strongly believe it starts with the employer creating a conducive and understanding work environment. I don’t profess that my way is the way of making staff happy but I am just trying to do my best.

Most importantly, the least any employer can do is to respect their staff and their time.

Pitbull – Give Me Everything ft. Ne-Yo, Afrojack, Nayer

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