A WORKPLACE that supports work-life balance has higher chances of retaining employees because it actively promotes a better quality of life. GE Malaysia received the Prime Minister’s CSR Award in 2011 and was recognised for best workplace practices and women empowerment programmes.
The GE Women’s Network is a global initiative set up in 1997 to attract and retain its female workforce and help them grow within the company.
“GE’s programmes towards advancing women have been around for a long time. The Women’s Network is run by our female workforce – there is a committee with a budget that decides what programmes they want for the year, based on feedback from employees on their critical needs. This ranges from training or development programmes, leadership programmes or workshops on finance,” says GE Malaysia/Brunei human resource director Sugunah Verumandy.
GE’s human resource practices aren’t gender-specific but are family-friendly, which is something women need and appreciate.
“Our human resource practices are based on the demographic of our workforce. They change based on the needs of the employees. For example, GE has had a graduate employment programme for a long time. In recent years, we have increased the intake of our workforce from this programme. We find that new graduates who come in have different expectations and needs – more flexibility, for example, or a focus on fitness,” she says.
Female employees are entitled to three months of maternity leave but are allowed to apply for more leave if they need to.
The company also has flexible working hours for its employees.
“Our flexible working hours aren’t a written policy. It’s more a part of our culture. We don’t keep track of what time people come in and go out, but we do watch their performance closely. As long as they perform, we don’t look at the time they spend in the office,” she says.
The company also has a unique programme for its employees and their families.
The Employee Assistance Programme is an outsourced professional service (comprising psychologists, doctors, lawyers, etc) for employees to call when they have a problem, personal or professional.
It is also open to their families and maids.
“We outsourced it as we wanted them to feel comfortable talking about their problems. Sometimes they can’t talk to the human resources department as we may be their problem. And we included domestic helpers into the equation as we find many employees face problems with their maids,” says Sugunah.