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A caring employer

Crowne Plaza Changi Airport has been hiring matured workers as well as persons with disabilities and as such, has won an award for its efforts.

BY: Eleanor Yap

Tan Hwee Leng, 59, laundry supervisor from Crowne Plaza Changi Airport's housekeeping department.

Crowne Plaza Changi Airport, part of the InterContinental Hotel Group, was recently awarded the “Caring Employer” award by the Singapore Compact for CSR for employing persons with disabilities (PWD) as well as matured workers.

The hotel has made an effort not only to made the environment senior-friendly but also inculcated a family atmosphere that is open to all ages. Ageless Online finds out more about the company and its efforts from Steven Chan, general manager of Crowne Plaza Changi Airport in this two-part story:

 

Can you share with me how many matured workers you currently have on staff?

We have 13 employees aged 50 and above. We have 230 employees in our workforce.

 

What kinds of jobs do most of your matured workers hold?

Matured workers in our workforce are working mostly in the following departments:

  • Housekeeping
  • Engineering
  • Security
  • Stewarding (in charge of the dining operations)

 

What age is the oldest, what is he or she doing and how long has he or she been at the hotel/company?

Our oldest employee is 63 and has been with the company for more than two years.

 

What are some initiatives you have put in place to help your matured workers – be it in the environment such as the bed lifting system to employment policies such as payout system and/or mentorship? Will you be including any more initiatives this year or in the future?

EziMaid Bed Lifting System – We have installed the EziMaid Bed Lifting System in all guest rooms since the hotel opened in 2008. The steel-framed system, which is not visible to hotel guests, enables beds to be raised to waist-height (up to 500mm) by the room attendant, by pressing a wall-mounted button. This makes bed-making and vacuuming possible without overt bending, resulting in less chance of workplace injury and greater productivity.

Adoption of Re-Employment Act – Before the Re-employment Act took effect on January 1, 2012, the hotel was an early adopter of the Re-Employment Act to employees reaching the age of 62 since 2009. On top of adopting the Re-Employment Act, we do not reduce salaries by 10 percent when they reach the age of 60. Employees’ terms and conditions are unchanged even upon reaching the age of 62.

To further make the workplace age-friendly, we established good re-employment practices such as identifying eligible employees for re-employment and providing pre-retirement planning session, walking our employees through their retirement needs and helping them map out their retirement plans before the age of 62.

We also provide re-employment consultations to employees that are eligible for it at least six months before they reach the age of 62. We help prepare them for re-employment by discussing and charting out the possible next steps and re-employment options in the hotel. For employees who are ineligible for re-employment, the hotel provides employment assistance to the employee with a one-off Employment Assistance Payment (EAP).

Adoption of automated cleaning machinery ­– We have recently purchased additional automated cleaning machinery such as the Auto Scrubber to increase productivity and ease of cleaning public areas and rooms of the hotel.

We are continuously looking into initiatives to create an even more conducive environment for our mature workforce and are currently considering other initiatives.

 

Are these initiatives only pertaining to Crowne Plaza Changi Airport or to other hotels under the parent company?

Each individual hotel under the InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) has autonomy to decide on which initiatives to adopt. All IHG hotels do share the same core values and we have an IHG Steering Wheel, which details our Ways of Working. Responsible Business is one of the four priorities for all IHG hotels. However, the directives set in the Steering Wheel’s Responsible Business quadrant for the year are set by the individual hotels.

 

Why do you feel hiring matured workers are important for your business? Can you illustrate by sharing an example of an actual story dealing with a matured worker in your company?

We strongly believe in building a dynamic workforce powered by different groups of employees. Having employees of different age groups in our workforce also creates a strong family environment and bond between employees.

Mature workers are great assets to our business. They possess a wealth of knowledge from their years of working experience and can guide less experienced colleagues. This dynamic creates a strong, balanced and comprehensive workforce.

A great example would be Tan Hwee Leng, 59, laundry supervisor from our housekeeping department. He joined the hotel with over 30 years of experience in the laundry business.

When the hotel started integrating people with disabilities (PWDs) into our workforce, the laundry department was identified as a suitable match for some of our PWD candidates. Tan voluntarily agreed to mentor one young PWD protégé in his department. He understood the special needs of our PWD employees and willingly took on the mentorship of one Metta School student on internship with us, Nurul.

Hwee Leng helped to mentor one young PWD protégé in his department.

He patiently nurtured Nurul and helped her integrate into our workforce, assimilated her from a trainee to a full-time role, and reach her full potential. Nurul has since been with us for over four years and has achieved Excellent Service Awards in 2011 (Silver) and 2012 (Gold) under his patient guidance.

 

Any misconceptions about matured workers that you would like to debunk?

Mature workers are still highly effective in their roles while still maintaining healthy work-life balance.

Housekeeping coordinator, Belinda Thia, 60, joined us with limited experience in an administrative role. However she has grown in her role and is given more responsibilities such as handling the POs, ordering and liaising with suppliers on top of regular administrative duties. Her impressive progress in her role within the hotel is proof that mature workers are able to find joy in challenges at work.

 

Let’s talk about re-employment – how many have you continued to keep on after they have reached the retirement age?

The hotel opened in 2008 and we have just celebrated our fifth anniversary. We have one employee who has reached the retirement age and has been re-employed after retirement age with no change to his benefits and salary.

Most of our matured workers are still in their late 50s and have yet to reach their retirement age.

 

What piece of advice would you give other companies who don’t hire matured workers?

We only have one guiding principle and that is to look at the potential candidate’s ability to match the needs of the company’s workforce. Matured workers are as effective as any other employee and objectively looking at how they can contribute to the workforce can help create a sustainable working environment and grow the maturity and commitment of the team.

 

As an employer, could you provide three important tips you would give to matured workers who want to come into the workforce?

  1. Have an open mind.
  2. Believe in your abilities.
  3. Don’t be afraid to share your experience and knowledge with your team.

 


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