A Progressive Workplace, Powered by its People
Find out how Emergenetics Caelan & Sage encourages its employees to take the lead in initiating work-life programmes that work best for them.
12 Feb 2020 Case studies Work-life harmony Best practices
Emergenetics Caelan & Sage
Emergenetics Caelen & Sage is a consultancy firm that focuses on strategic communication, branding and design, as well as people and organisation development.
Professional-Scientific and Technical Activities
Professionals, managerial staff, executive staff, administrative support staff
As a consultancy specialising in people and organisational development, Emergenetics Caelan & Sage (ECS) recognises the need to be a trailblazer of managing happy workplaces. The company sees the importance of developing and motivating its people so that they will in turn, be driven to help the company succeed, as well as inspire clients to achieve the same. Along its journey to be an innovative business that thrives on its passion for people, ECS has discovered that one of the most effective strategies for a happy workplace is active employee engagement, where its people are at the centre of the planning and implementation of work-life programmes.
Featured Work-Life Programmes
To build a work-life environment that best meets its people's needs, ECS empowers its staff to propose ideas for new or enhanced work-life programmes. The company's work-life programmes - some of which were initiated by its people - include:
Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs)
- Compressed Work Schedule
- Staggered Time / Flexible Hours
- Part-Time Work
- Downtime (a concept similar to "do not disturb", where employees can set a time to complete their work without disruptions, e.g. work-related calls, ad-hoc discussions, brainstorming and generating new initiatives that are beneficial for the business, or taking a pause from daily tasks to consider possible ideas to improve the way they work)
- Birthday Leave
- Unrecorded Leave (medical and time-off)
- Family Care Leave
- Community Service Leave
- Social Leave (a leave benefit for unmarried employees or employees without children to pursue social activities
Employee Support Schemes
- Employee Engagement Programmes
- Personal Work-life Effectiveness Programmes
- Family-related Programmes
- Health and Wellness Programmes
- Lactation Support
To build a workplace that thrives on employee engagement and motivate its people to get actively involved in building their ideal work-life environment, ECS believes in:
Overcoming Barriers to Work-Life Programmes
Recognising that work-life programmes come along with some potential implications which might deter its people from embracing them, ECS implements measures such as:
Developing a flexible team
- ECS creates opportunities for employees to engage in cross-functional collaboration and rotation, so that team members are trained to "wear more than one hat". This encourages more collaboration and teamwork as team members can step in to offer support if required, which in turn, enhances cohesion and boosts team morale.
Enabling a collaborative work culture through technology
- The company adopted "Slack", a mobile communication platform, so that employees - especially those working remotely - have a dedicated formal channel for communication. This encourages constant, unified and seamless communication regardless of each team member's location. The application also has "do not disturb" and "official business hours" mode, so that employees are able to fully benefit from downtime or leave.
Walking the talk on the Management level
- ECS recognises the importance of encouragement from senior staff in eliminating concerns staff may have when utilising work-life programmes. To help employees feel comfortable when cultivating personal work-life harmony, the company's leaders set an example by utilising work-life programmes themselves. For instance, its Deputy CEO, Mr Colin Yeow, uses the company's flexible hours policy so that he is able to send his children to school and attend important school-related events with them. He also shares advice on managing work and personal commitments with young parents in ECS.
Constantly Encouraging Employees to Share their Views
Acknowledging that employees know that their own needs best, ECS proactively seeks their views when designing its work-life programmes. These efforts include:
- Setting up formal feedback channels such as weekly meetings and quarterly reviews with supervisors;
- Encouraging employees to approach Management on an informal basis to share feedback and seek advice on both professional and personal development; and
- Providing a platform for employees to submit feedback on workplace satisfaction, via an external party that specialises in studying employee engagement.
These efforts enable ECS to design work-life programmes that are tailored to meet its employees' needs, resulting in an engaged, satisfied and productive workforce.
Establishing Trust and Accountability
ECS believes in building a workplace that thrives on openness, trust and personal initiative. As such, employees:
- Have autonomy to draft their own key performance indicators, career goals and training programmes for Management's evaluation so they can identify what is required to help them achieve and maintain work-life harmony, and allocate resources accordingly to achieve their unique work-life goals;
- Are able to take "unrecorded leave" - where staff can choose to stay at home if they feel unwell without needing an official medical certificate, or take the day off to manage urgent family or personal matters as long as work targets and deliverables are met;
- Have the flexibility to utilise work-life programmes such as staggered time or telecommuting, as long as they state their schedules on the company shared calendar, and ensure that their schedules on the company shared calendar, and ensure that their job responsibilities are fulfilled; and
- Can utilise creative work-life programmes such as downtime, where they have the option of working on their own external interruptions and distractions. This enables employees to better focus on and carry out their tasks more productively, making them less likely to feel burnt out, especially when managing time-sensitive projects that require high levels of concentration.
Such flexibility empowers employees to manage their own work and life goals, creates a positive working environment as they feel respected and valued - and ultimately, boosts employee engagement.
ECS' innovative approach in letting its people take the lead in managing their work-life harmony has proven effective. Employees have become accustomed to planning their work-life schedules without disrupting their responsibilities and performance, as well as the schedules and workloads of those they work with. The work-life programmes have helped employees achieve a smooth integration between their work and personal lives. This improves their social, mental and emotional well being, which in turn, enhances their personal effectiveness and boosts ECS' productivity and bottom line. Today, ECS is seen as a desirable place to work in, with the numbers to prove it.
“ECS has established for only about 15 years, and more than half of our employees have stayed with us for over five years,” says Mr Yeow.
“This high retention rate helps to reduce costs in rehiring and retraining,” he adds.