Engage employees by creating a work environment where they are supported and valued. Here are some suggestions on how to achieve this:

Clear and open communication

Companies who want to engage employees must make an effort to connect with them and keep them informed. Regular town hall meetings and other platforms by which employees can pose questions to senior management create two-way channels of communications between companies and their employees.

This in turn enables employees to understand what the company is trying to achieve and why their work is important. It also provides companies with opportunities to interact with and listen to their employees.

For example, companies can use their intranet as a forum, where staff can pose questions directly to the CEO or share their views freely. Each query can be answered personally by the CEO, who will gain more insight into on-the-ground issues faced by his staff. The feedback garnered can also lead to improvements in the workplace. 

Rewards and recognition

Incorporating the recognition of employees into day-to-day working life can enable companies to better engage their employees by making them feel valued at work.

In addition to incentives and bonuses, recognition schemes such as “Long Service” and “Employee of the Month” awards also help companies to show their appreciation of employees who display business results and service excellence.

DBS has its annual “Banking the Asian Way Awards” for this purpose. 

Learning and development

It is important for companies to provide opportunities for employees to develop professionally and personally. Setting up in-house schools and implementing talent programmes are effective ways for companies to support employees in their ambitions to grow their careers.

For instance, Unilever set up Four Acres Singapore, its first global leadership centre outside London, and the Rolls-Royce Group established the Regional Training Centre at Seletar, its first training facility in Asia. Likewise, the DBS Academy offers both classroom and online learning programmes that support employees’ career progression and personal development.

A more diverse workforce also calls for flexibility and a personalised approach to talent development. Supporting different employees who have different aspirations and empowering them to take personal charge of their own learning journey and career progression is vital to bringing out the best in them — and creating a good workplace.

Such support can also help employees manage situations where they need to take a step back in their careers to tend to personal obligations.

Companies can offer talent programmes for the full spectrum of employees — from entry-level graduates to senior leaders. Employees can also enrich their work experience by participating in internal mobility programmes that enable them to take on different roles across their organisation’s businesses and geographical locations. 

Flexible work environment

Employees may have different needs, depending on the stage of life they are at. Creating a flexible working environment will help companies to further engage their employees as it helps them to better manage their time and balance their professional and personal needs.

Allowing employees to take on flexi-work schemes is one way in which a flexible working environment can be created. For example, schemes such as flexible working hours, part-time work, working from home and no-pay leave can be made accessible to employees to help them achieve a better work-life balance.

Work hard, play hard

Giving employees opportunities to have fun at work helps them to find value in their work and their workplace. For example, Google Singapore organises parties and weekly themed celebrations for employees. Their office is also well-equipped with a karaoke lounge, hammocks and pantries.

The DBS Recreation Club organises year-round sports, games, workshops, bazaars, performances and “dinner and dance” events, to promote greater interaction among employees. 

In addition, companies can create social hubs in their premises that are designed to foster spontaneous bonding, interaction and the exchange of ideas among employees.

Through good communication, recognition, development and support, employers can create a great workplace for their employees to grow both professionally and personally.

Article by Theresa Phua, Singapore Head of Human Resources at DBS Bank. It was one of only three companies in Asia to be awarded the 2013 Great Workplace Award by Gallup.