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Jonas Ang, Chief Human Resources Officer, AIA

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Keeping your employees motivated and satisfied is no easy task, but it is attainable. Jonas Ang, CHRO at AIA explains how to cultivate an office environment which employees love.

Singapore is ranked second place in Asia Pacific for having the least satisfied employees. In fact, a majority of employees in Singapore are motivated to change jobs for bigger salary packages or better career opportunities, according to the Randstad Workmonitor Survey.

In addition, the 2013 AIA Healthy Living Index found more than three in four Singaporeans are not satisfied with their health as compared to the regional average. With climbing employee expectations today, organisations are becoming increasingly challenged to keep employees happy and satisfied in ways that go beyond remuneration, to enjoy a healthy and engaged workforce.

Ensuring employee happiness need not be an impossible task. Staff are the key pillar of organisational excellence.

So what are some of the best practices for keeping your employees motivated and satisfied? Here are five tips on how you can apply AIA Singapore’s principles of ‘Doing the Right Thing, in the Right Way, with the Right People’:

1. Show your employees they matter
Recognising and appreciating the work our employees do is a cornerstone of how AIA Singapore rewards, attracts and retain talent.

Employees in Singapore place greater value on recognition and praise, ahead of money and benefits when determining their overall workplace happiness, according to new research.

One way you can show your employees that they matter is by rewarding long-service and high performance staff on a regular basis. At AIA Singapore, we have also introduced many other awards to recognise individuals and teams. For example, we have the Team of the Year Award, the Rising Star award for newly joined employees (six to 12 months), the Sparks award for innovative ideas, as well as Employee of the Year and Leader of the Year.

We go one step further in fostering a supportive work culture by catering free breakfasts for employees during the Employee Appreciation Month and providing balloons for employees to give to their bosses, peers and subordinates as a personal token of thanks.

2. Value your employees’ personal time
AIA Singapore is fortunate to have employees with a passion for both their work and hobbies, and we always do our best to help them strike a work-life balance.

Over 65% of employees in Singapore spend more time than they should at work with a majority of them clocking an average of more than 40 hours a week. However, it is important to recognise your employees need some downtime outside of work to spend time with their family and friends, and pursue their passions as well.

Create family bonding time for your employees by implementing an ‘Eat With Your Family Day’, or organising company family-friendly events. Employees at AIA Singapore are also given opportunities to showcase their skills and talents at company events, such as the annual dinner & dance and AIA’s Got Talent, which keeps them personally motivated to pursue their passions outside of work. After all, as the adage goes, a happy worker is a productive worker.

It is important to recognise your employees need some downtime outside of work.

3. Make your company’s success their success
We make it a point to be transparent about our business, as we believe people work at their best when they are clear about what is expected of them.

With 3 in 4 Singaporeans feeling disengaged at work, according to a survey conducted by Gallup, there is no denying that consistent communication between management and employees is essential for a thriving workplace. Not only does it keep employees aligned with the company’s goals, but it also allows them to see the value of their work in the grand scheme of things, thereby fostering a sense of loyalty and pride in them.

To get into the groove of enforcing regular dialogues within your company, consider introducing internal newsletters, sending weekly email updates, and organising townhall sessions and EXCO (executive corporate officer) lunch-time sessions. These allow employees to hear first-hand from top management on departmental updates, corporate wins, which in turn gives them a better understanding of what each department does and how it affects other departments within the value chain.

These initiatives have worked out well for AIA Singapore as their employees noticeably became more contributory and informed on developments within the organisation. Who knows, you may even get new and fresh insights from communicating with the larger team.

4. Empower and advance your employees
Every employee at AIA Singapore plays a key role in making a real difference, which is why we believe in constantly equipping our employees with the right skills, tools and development they need to achieve their personal goals.

Employee happiness is also influenced by whether they are given internal opportunities to advance their knowledge and skills. By investing in talent development from within, you would be surprised by how much your organisation’s staff retention rate will increase.

Show your employees that you have a vested interested in their professional development by drawing up a training calendar for the organisation and setting aside a training budget for employees to utilise. To effectively match employees with suitable training programmes and suss out their employees’ developmental needs, AIA Singapore conducts their performance appraisals bi-annually.

If you are a large organisation with a wide network, consider implementing a job rotation scheme and encourage mobility within the group.

5. Care for your employees’ well-being
We are not only committed to investing in the health and well-being of our customers, but also our employees.

It is no secret that employee health and well-being has a direct impact on organisational productivity, which is why organisations should also make an effort to promote healthy living in the workplace. About 70% of employees in Singapore perform better at work when they work out, according to the latest Randstad Workmonitor Q1 2014 survey.

Start small in creating a healthy work environment by organising lunchtime health talks, a company sports day or inviting external instructors to lead yoga and kick-boxing classes after work. Healthy eating can be encouraged by providing healthy snacks and fruit readily available via vending machines or dedicated fruits day during the week or month..

At AIA Singapore, we sponsor AIA Vitality memberships for all our staff. We also provide our staff and their families free access to a confidential and personal wellness consultation service conducted by a professional consultant. Some staff benefits are also extended to staff’s family members such as special purchases of AIA policies and discounted health screening packages.

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