They enable employees’ careers throughout the different parenting stages.
Adjustable working hours, maternity leave you can utilise over your newborn’s first year, 30 days paid time off for new fathers, 24/7 counselling hotlines, supportive colleagues, backup daycare arranged by your employer… This is the dream of most working parents. Do companies that provide these arrangements exist in Malaysia?
The makchic What Working Parents Want 2020 survey highlighted some very special employers who are going the extra mile to take care of their staff and their families. They know that if provided with the opportunity to raise their children meaningfully, employees will remain loyal, productive, and committed.
In achieving work-life balance, makchic found that flexibility in working hours and location, paid time off, and childcare resources were important. Many employees in the survey also simply asked for more understanding and trust from their employers.
Here are our top ten inspirational organisations, in no particular order, (and four small enterprises) with innovative work-life practices. These companies were nominated and recommended by respondents, parents and talent strategy leaders surveyed by makchic.
|Manulife||Shell Malaysia||Maybank||Hewlett Packard||BASF PETRONAS|
1. PwC Malaysia
PwC Malaysia has long implemented flexibility at work through flex+ initiatives. A big part of the flex+ programme focuses on work arrangements for parents, including flexible 90 days maternity leave and flexible 30 days paternity leave. These arrangements give new parents the opportunity to opt for a shorter maternity or paternity leave period and flex the remaining days, which can be taken throughout the newborn’s first year. Other noteworthy benefits offered are adoption leave, transitioning support for parents coming back to work, and a free and confidential counselling hotline for all to dial in and receive professional support on either work or personal issues.
“We have been focusing on building an inclusive workplace culture, which takes into consideration our people’s lives outside of work while remaining committed to delivering high-quality outcomes for our clients.” – Michelle Lee, PwC Malaysia’s Talent & Transformation Leader.
Employees may also claim expenses spent on baby gear, pre- & post-natal care, fertility treatments, childcare fees, eldercare expenses, medical expenses for dependents, special needs childcare and living aids, amongst others. Their Plan B Childcare initiative also helps parents needing childcare on short notice, for example when their regular childcare centre is closed on a public or state holiday, if they are facing domestic help issues, or other short-term emergencies, by providing access to daycare(s) near their office.
“The expectations are high with our high-performance culture, but leaders are open to discussing work arrangements to enable young mums like me to continue doing the job I love while spending more time with my children at home. Currently, I’m on a reduced working week arrangement (4 days a week),” stated an employee who nominated PwC as a family-friendly company.
The professional services firm also supports its employees through different stages of parenting through internal networks, mentoring programmes, and talks on wide-ranging themes from conceiving, juggling life as a working parent, single parenting, schooling options, staying resilient while working from home with kids, misconceptions about fathers, and empty nest syndrome.
With support from the firm, PwC Malaysia’s working parents can rest assured that they are able to adopt flexible work arrangements without a stigma.
2. Ørsted Services Malaysia Sdn. Bhd.
Danish green energy provider Ørsted entrusts their employees with the flexibility and support they need to deliver their work outcomes while recognising the importance of family. Loyal staff flourish with minimal micro monitoring and the management’s emphasis on work-life balance.
Jevan Nambyar, Head of People & Development Ørsted Malaysia, said that a working parent’s concern stems from three rudimentary factors: flexibility, benefits and support. Ørsted’s workplace provides a crucial lifeline.
“Unlike most corporate institutions, it doesn’t feel like coming to work; rather it’s a part of your life that brings balance when everything else may be akimbo, providing facilities for rest, relaxation, de-stressing and alternative work settings throughout the day. Ørsted dwells into the minuscule aspects of work-life from the comfort and ergonomics of the chairs you sit on, to the wider condition of your health.” – Jevan Nambyar, Head of People & Development Ørsted Malaysia.
This concern and care are visibly evident in the benefits that Ørsted provides: giving new parents longer maternity leave than other companies do. This consists of two weeks before delivery date, four months leave and one-month work-from-home. Paternity leave is five days plus five days’ work-from-home. Child allowances for the first three children are also included.
Whilst at work there are ample facilities that cater to the working parent: a nursing room equipped with a mini-fridge, storage spaces and that all-important comfy sofa, designed for pregnant mums to sink in. There are exercise machines and equipment for parents that are pressed for time, struggling to squeeze in some personal fitness all while in the office! Parents can bring out their inner child as well and relax with fellow colleagues who are parents, playing video games, board games – and table tennis in the lounge.
These initiatives by Ørsted make for a conducive work environment, especially for parents. During the lockdown, the organisation allowed them to borrow equipment from the office and provided internet and phone allowances for a smooth transition into virtual operations.
3. Sunway Group
Parents of young children can rejoice with Sunway Group as their employer. These parents will have access to in-house childcare facilities for children aged two months to three years, and partner pre-schools for children aged four to six years. To further support these working parents, Sunway also provides childcare subsidies, convenient nursing rooms and staggered working hours for working mothers. Expectant mothers can also take advantage of designated car parks and escort assistance by security officers.
“We have just opened a childcare centre exclusively for our staff. The on-site childcare centre benefit allows our existing employees the peace of mind when they are at work, thereby enabling them to deliver their best. At the same time, we are also better positioned to offer a supportive work environment to new potential talents who have just started their families or are planning to in the near future. What we want is to create a conducive working environment that encourages growth.” – Foo Shiang Wyne, Sunway Group Chief Human Resources Officer.
The group also places great importance in diversity and inclusion by providing equal opportunities to all and raising awareness to celebrate our differences. One such initiative is its collaboration with LeadWomen where 50 of Sunway’s women leaders are members. Sunway works with them to educate and raise awareness on women leadership through workshops and forums with opportunities to network with fellow women leaders from other organisations.
As Malaysia’s largest conglomerate, Sunway also invests in the well-being of employees and their families by offering perks such as discounts for education programmes at their learning institutions, properties, theme park tickets, hotel rooms, and healthcare services.
At the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), they are committed to strong gender-responsive, family-friendly policies for all staff. Gender empowerment principles allow for women candidates to be selected if all else being equal. Parental perks at this global development network include 16 weeks paid maternity leave and four weeks paid paternity leave. Fully equipped nursing rooms are also available for new mothers. Other benefits include telecommuting, flexi hours, and compressed working week with the support of management and supervisors. Therefore, laptops are provided to all personnel. These policies help support staff to balance their work and family responsibilities so one need not be chosen over the other.
During the MCO in March, management allowed work from home to safeguard the health of their employees and their families. Return to the office is on a voluntary basis until further notice. Special consideration was given to staff with young children to be accorded flexibility in returning to the office until their childcare/nursery/school reopens.
5. Maxis Berhad
Maxis meets the challenge of the blurred line between work and home life with their #LifeatMaxis programme to enhance employee well-being and work-life balance. This holistic well-being programme focuses on many aspects – physical, emotional, social, community and career. During the various phases of the Movement Control Order (MCO), Maxis has continued to conduct these initiatives online.
“Our leaders are role-models in working well together, being productive, and having fun at the same time in a vibrant environment. This sets the tone and direction for the company. Such management support is often crucial to the successful implementation of work-life practices.” – Natalia Navin, Maxis’ Chief Human Resource Officer.
Generous childcare benefits include extended maternity leave as well as adoption leave for both mothers and fathers. Diversity is nurtured by the Women at Maxis community – which equips employees with knowledge on female participation, balancing career and family life, managing finances, and more.
Managers at this technology company are empowered to offer flexibility in working arrangements where possible as employees are equipped to be collaborative and productive through digital tools and daily check-ins.
As a life insurance company, Manulife Insurance Berhad recognises the importance of being aware and supportive of employees’ differing needs. The negative stigma associated with employees who utilise flexible work arrangements and who may fear negative repercussions on their performance rating is also addressed. This is done by driving awareness in the leaders in the company through clear communication and implementation.
Their flexible work arrangement allows for working parents to enjoy flexibility in terms of working hours and location, as well apply for family care leave, adoption leave and receive cash incentives for their children’s academic achievements. Manulife is proud to state that the career progression of employees’ who have utilised flexible work arrangements is at par with employees who have not utilised them.
Committed to investing in a diverse workforce, Manulife’s Chief Human Resources Officer, Aiza Aryati Kasim, explained, “In Manulife, we have an Employee Relations Centre, which is an avenue for employees to have conversations on people practices, Human Resource policies, flexible work arrangements, or other career concerns. In adapting to the new normal amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we have provided a 24/7 work-life coach for employees and their families to seek consultation on their personal concerns or issues. The company also conducts webinars touching on various mental health-related topics such as time & stress management, building resilience, strengthening psychological stamina among others, to continuously support and motivate our employees in trying times.”
7. Shell Malaysia
Shell has been recognised with multiple accolades as an employer, globally and in Malaysia. Recently, Shell Malaysia was awarded the Life at Work Award 2019 for “Best Leadership (International Organisation) in Diversity & Inclusion (D&I)”. Their Flexible Work Arrangement programme caters to the needs of the ever-evolving workforce. This consists of career breaks, flexible working hours, part-time work, and remote working arrangements.
Shell Malaysia extended their already generous maternity leave of 12 weeks to 16 weeks, aligning to Shell’s new global standard. Shell is the first major integrated oil and gas company to introduce such global standard in paid time off. Other family-friendly practices they provide are designated car parking spaces for pregnant women, on-site childcare services and fully-equipped mother’s rooms with multiple cubicles, breast pumps, sterilizers, refrigerators, washbasins, and lockers.
Additional work-life benefits include monthly childcare subsidies for little ones, medical benefits extended to both children & spouse, unique leave policies to fulfil personal and/or family obligations and benefits for employee physical and mental wellness.
Malaysia’s largest financial services group has some of the most generous parental policies – up to one year maternity leave (three months full pay, three months half pay, six months no pay) and also provides paternity leave with the option of applying for a maximum 90 days with half pay and full benefits. Employees may also take a leave of absence to bond with a newly adopted child. Their on-site emergency childcare facility, Maybank Tiger Cubs Childcare Centre, makes it easier for parents to care for their little ones on an emergency basis for up to 90 days per year. In-house childcare support facilities help to improve productivity, employee morale and reduced turnover or absenteeism.
Flexi work arrangements, family-friendly benefits, lactation rooms, gymnasiums designed for women only, and various other health and wellness programmes are examples of other facilities that parents can take advantage of. Maybank also promotes female participation at all levels with their Women Mentor Women Council aimed at increasing the representation of women in the middle, senior and top management.
9. Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE)
Hewlett-Packard (M) Sdn Bhd’s culture is in line with HPE’s global focus on their people’s health and wellness, including enrichment of their families. Their holding company announced enhanced family leave to provide a minimum of six months fully paid leave for mums and dads after the birth or adoption of a child and parental transition support for parents who want to return gradually by working part-time for up to 36 months after the birth or adoption of a child.
There are also plans for a career reboot programme with job opportunities and training at HPE for people who left the workforce for an extended period; for example, to raise a child. They believe in work that fits the lives of their employees.
10. BASF PETRONAS Chemicals Sdn Bhd
“We offer a selection of flexible benefits that meet our employees’ needs, diverse lifestyle and expectation at different life stages. This entails a holistic approach in our employee wellbeing programme which includes physical, emotional and financial wellbeing.” – Marko Murtonen, Managing Director of BASF PETRONAS Chemicals.
One of their outstanding benefits for their employees is the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) which is a confidential, short-term, counselling service for employees or their immediate family members with personal problems that may affect their performance at work as well as their overall health and wellbeing. They are given access to professional and trained psychologists, registered counsellors and social workers that are fluent in various languages such as Malay, English, Mandarin, Tamil, Cantonese and Hokkien.
In times like these where parents may be facing problems, it is a great benefit to have access to professionals to keep your mental health in check.
“As we are still a small organisation, there has not been a need for clear guidelines for equality and diversity in the culture or equal opportunities in the company but it is something that we do keep in mind,” said Malisse Tan, Bobble Founder.
Even as a small personal care company, Bobble still has many benefits offered to their employees such as paternity leave as well as phase-back to work for parents who are gradually returning back to work. This is currently made easier by working fully remotely at the moment.
There is also strong two-way communication, actionable plans to achieve mutual desired goals, quarterly catch-ups, and clear, realistic key performance indicators. All in all impressive support by a small upcoming business.
This women’s online travel magazine and platform is a small business but has some very happy mothers as employees due to its family-friendly work culture and practices. With three-months maternity leave, flexible working hours, parents allowed to leave at 4 pm, regular remote working days in a month and the freedom to manage their time, Zafigo’s working mothers say they have work-life harmony.
This may not be surprising as Zafigo’s founder is Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, who is a women’s rights activist and feels having family-friendly policies and benefits “was a no-brainer.”
An employee said she had a work-life which was “definitely hard to beat” in the organisation, and appreciated the trust given to employees to manage their own time. “Even our hours allow me to be super hands-on. When I leave early I usually make sure I finish everything I need to before I leave, but when there are busy seasons I’ll bring work home if I need to.” She said she was given three-months paid maternity leave even though there was only two-months statutory maternity leave at the time, and the company’s work culture meant she never felt like she was missing out on being her baby’s mother or missing the milestones. “The freedom to manage my time is one of the main things that has kept me at Zafigo. I’m a happy camper here,” she said.
Another employee said she was very appreciative of the company’s policies and the company culture, citing the flexible hours and the regular opportunity to work from home.
“We can work from home up to four times a month, as long as it does not disrupt our workflow and quality of work,” she said.
3. Canary Design Sdn. Bhd.
This homegrown interior design company demonstrated support and respect through paid parental leave and phase-back to work arrangements.
An impressed employee stated: “Canary Design Sdn Bhd employed me when I was 8 months pregnant and I still got paid for maternity leave of 2 months (I was laid off from my previous company when I was a month pregnant due to my sick leave of 2 days). So far, I’m happy to be working there. Working culture is good.”
PichaEats helps refugees in Malaysia put food on their table. They help parents from the refugee community by assisting in the packaging, marketing, and delivery of their ethnic cuisine. These meals are cooked with love by amazing chefs from Syria, Myanmar, Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Their Picha Chef Training equips refugee families with the skills to operate their own home-based kitchen at a professional standard. Every meal sold helps them provide sustainable income for their families here and to be financially stable so that their children are able to receive an education.
By Seah Lu Sean, Diana Annuar, Ida Nurbayatuty Jamil, Sheryl Cornelius.
In addition to the What Working Parents Want 2020 report and this list, makchic has also produced a Toolkit for employers and companies seeking to improve the work-life balance of the mothers and fathers they employ. Check it out here.
Disclaimer: The information presented here was collected and collated before and during the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. Every effort was made to provide accurate and up to date information about the companies surveyed, but we acknowledge that organisations are going through unprecedented challenges and practices or policies are subject to change. We do not guarantee the completeness, timeliness or the results obtained from the use of this information. Views and opinions expressed in the text are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of any other entity or individual.