Lactation education

PSLE leave, parenting classes and lactation rooms: How a local company is retaining talent with family-friendly policies

Implementing family-friendly policies is not meant to be a popularity contest or the pursuit of high turnout. Instead, when planning such policies, it is a matter of designing them to meet the needs of specific groups and to reach employees who need support.

This is according to OCBC Bank and its group human resources manager, Ms. Lee Hwee Boon. “It’s not one size fits all,” she said. “We don’t look at our HR policies in terms of sacrifice or cost. For us, it’s always about doing what’s best for our people.

The local bank has adopted a host of family-friendly work policies over the years, striving to make them inclusive, flexible and scalable.

That means embracing the different employee demographics, Ms. Lee said, and creating policies that reflect the circumstances of employees who may be at different stages of life, with slightly different demands and in different locations.

“We don’t want our policies to be designed to respond to a situation as it arises, but we want to be able to anticipate and take a slightly longer-term view of this. our staff or workforce needs, and be able to design policies that will take us to that time,” she added.

This philosophy led to the launch of MyWellness Fiesta in 2019, a series of wellness workshops, talks and activities. This was coupled with a mental wellness program, where employees and their family members had access to counseling sessions, among other services.

Leave the accommodation

Returning to the areas of concern, Ms. Lee noted that it is important to keep a listening ear. Attention to the needs of employees, for example, led the bank to create the PSLE ​​Leave Accommodation policy, implemented in 2012.

This scheme gives employees with children preparing to take their first national exam – the Primary School Leaving Examination – the possibility of carrying over up to 15 days of leave from the previous year, more than double the usual 7 days. This year, 52 employees requested PSLE ​​leave.

Children of this age, 12, can always turn to their parents first when it comes to preparing for the exam, Ms Lee explained. “I feel like parents think this is the time when family support is most important for the child,” she added.

Before the policy took effect, parents had to either take unpaid leave or take an entire year to be with their child throughout their primary schooling. to support our employees, what could we do? »

Ms Lee recalled using her PSLE ​​leave to bring her own children to eat ice cream or to go to the playground. “I found it helpful to just be there as a form of moral support and to give balance to a very trying time for them,” she said.

Parental support

Mr. Dennis Lee, Senior Vice President of Risk and Prevention, Consumer Financial Services, has found that the PSLE ​​Leave Accommodations Policy has been widely used within his team.

However, with 3 teenagers, the initiative of the bank’s employee resource group, which currently offers a course on parenting with teenagers, is more relevant for him.

Introduced in 2014, the resource groups, centered on different themes, call on external coaches who can teach, lead discussions and give advice. These sessions take place once a month, each theme lasting 6 to 10 sessions.

He decided to enroll in the program after an eye-opening discussion with his children. “I remember my kids saying to me, ‘Dad, we know we’re growing up. We don’t need to spend a lot of time with you, but quality time is important.'”

Thanks to the session on parenting with teenagers, he recognized his shortcomings in his relationships with his children and is now working harder to improve the level of communication, to better understand them and learn to guide them.

He recalled an instance where his daughter told him he had been sarcastic with her in a conversation before leaving for work. He thought about it and texted her apologetically, which she accepted. Clearing the air took away the nagging worry and allowed him to focus on his work that day, he said.

“We have to put ourselves down to communicate with them, (not just talk to them) like an authority figure,” he said, admitting habits are hard to change, but he’s learning to be more mindful of his ways .

Mr. Dennis Lee is also now more aware of what they do during their time together. Rather than staying home to watch TV and eat dinner, which he says is the “natural thing to do” for the family, he recently planned a trip to Gardens by the Bay over the weekend to spend time with his family.

“The 3 kids were pretty open to it, which was kind of nice, to be honest,” he said, adding that he’s now more motivated to plan more family activities like this.

“There’s a lot of expertise out there that you can contact (for parenting help), but sometimes when there’s so much, who’s the good part? So I was very happy that OCBC helped us narrow it down,” he said.

The sessions also created a sense of camaraderie in the workplace. “These are topics that you don’t usually talk about in the office with colleagues,” he said. “But with like-minded people coming together…we’re able to share some experiences and you start falling into little communities.”

Internal facilities

Ms. Donna Teo, Assistant Vice President of Analytics at the OCBC Group Data Office, started her family while she was already at the bank, which helped to alleviate the challenges of the mother of two children somewhat .

The lactation rooms made available to breastfeeding mothers had been a highlight for her. In Parliament in August, MP Louis Ng cited a local survey of 970 respondents by Singapore’s Breastfeeding Mothers Support Group this year, which found that 8 out of 10 working mothers said lactation rooms are one of the things they need the most.

Mothers from other companies told her of locking themselves in meeting rooms or sequestered themselves in toilets to express their breast milk, Ms Teo said.

“Some of them, if they have a female boss, could be (treated with) more empathy,” she said, adding that at OCBC, employee support is pretty much policy. .

The Little Skool-House childcare centre, which operates out of the OCBC centre, was also helpful in the early years of on-the-job motherhood, Ms Teo said, where bank staff are offered priority places and rates. subsidized.

With her husband also working for the organization, the early mornings and evenings after work were convenient when the whole family could travel to and from the same location.

Proximity is also handy if something does arise, she said, recalling incidents where her children had fallen ill and had to be driven home from school.

Now that her eldest child has just started primary school, while the youngest remains in kindergarten, the husband and wife duo have a divide and conquer strategy.

Ms Teo typically comes into the office once a week, while her remaining working days are spent working from home with her daughter, thanks to OCBC’s flexible remote working policies. His department is allowed to work from home up to 5 days a week.