Rajah and Tann Singapore LLP
Koay Saw Lean, Director, Human Resource
13 Jan 2021 Work-life harmony
About the Company : Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP (Rajah & Tann) has grown to be one of the largest law firms in Singapore, providing a full suite of legal services to an array of clients from local and multinational companies.
Employment size : > 650
Industry : Professional-Scientific and Technical Activities (Legal Services)
Work-Life Ambassador Koay Saw Lean describes the work-life culture at Rajah and Tann as “open and flexible”. She shares that the law firm values employees as individuals and views them as being fundamental to the organisation’s success. Thus, in an industry where long working hours is considered a norm, the firm continually seeks ways to support their well-being through work-life initiatives such as flexible working arrangements (FWAs).
The implementation of FWAs can be a challenging prospect in some industries and organisations where the work culture and even ways of operating pose a hurdle. Saw Lean shares that while these barriers may exist, they can be overcome. At Rajah and Tann, the leadership shows its commitment to work-life harmony by publicising available work-life programmes and achievements, including FWAs, at townhall meetings and through the shared spaces in the firm. For example, posters of awards are showcased in the main pantry, and promotional materials on current initiatives are also readily available to encourage employees to request for FWAs if needed.
For organisations that are starting out on the implementation process, she suggests that providing some structure may help. In the initial stages of the FWA journey for Rajah and Tann, the firm had a pilot programme where employees could request to work from home on a telecommuting arrangement once a month. The existing HR system was also refined to enable employees to apply online. Having a structured and transparent process can be useful to iron out initial teething problems and assess the usefulness of an FWA. In the case of Rajah and Tann, the firm received positive feedback from staff and found ways to further refine the FWA initiative.
Saw Lean observes that employers should also adopt simple and quick ways to gather feedback on the effectiveness of FWA initiatives, as this will enable them to refine these flexible work options more efficiently. She shares that short anonymous surveys have been a useful tool for Rajah and Tann, particularly in testing out new ideas, “We can adapt and do things differently based on employees’ response, and the time taken to do so is short”.
Saw Lean shares that when employees work flexibly, it is also important for supervisors to consider having more frequent communications with their teams, “to make sure that you're constantly connected with your people”. In her experience as a people leader, weekly meetings have been replaced with more regular check-ins to get updates on work, and also provide a better sense of how team members are feeling overall as they transition to a flexible way of working.
By providing employees with the flexibility to manage their time, she shares that Rajah and Tann “has been able to retain some of our best performers over the years”.
“In addition to being a positive retention strategy, Rajah and Tann’s experience has shown that employees are also more engaged, showing greater accountability for their work when they are given greater autonomy over where and how they work.”
Saw Lean encourages employers to consider the benefits that FWAs can bring and take the first steps towards FWA implementation. For Rajah and Tann, investing in Work-Life Harmony and the well-being of their employees has proven worthwhile, helping them to cultivate a dynamic, loyal and engaged workforce.