What a Chillax Lounge has to do with ageism

In the face of claims of ageism in Singapore workplaces by the Deputy PM, one Singapore hotel chain talks to HRD Singapore about the steps it takes retain mature workers.

What a Chillax Lounge has to do with ageism
From massage chairs to fishing to pairing with Gen-Y employees, one Orchard Road Hotel has a number of strategies to keep older workers happy.

 “Mature employees are valuable assets to the organisation as they are able to share their wealth of experience with the younger generation,” Royal Plaza on Scotts chief experience officer Patrick Fiat told HRD Singapore.

“They are a source of committed and reliable workforce, which can be tapped on to fill in the gaps for the labour crunch.”

The mature workforce is also usually more experienced in handling challenging situations, he said.

In February, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam claimed ageism in Singapore workplaces meant experienced older workers were being shut out of jobs.
"I think we have to tackle ageism in Singapore. There is sort of a quiet, unstated discrimination among the mid-careers and those who are in their 50s,” he said at MediaCorp’s ‘Ask the Finance Minister’ Budget forum.

But that’s simply not the case at Royal Plaza on Scotts, where 41% of the workforce is aged over 40, and the longest-serving staff member has been with the company for 41 years.

The company has put in place a number of steps to retain the valued segment of its workforce, some of which has shared for HRD Singapore readers.
  • Pairing mature employees with the younger generation of new hires
“The mix of the multi-generations complements the organisation’s structure as the younger employees bring in the energy and zest while the mature employees are here to take the younger ones under their wings to provide guidance,” Fiat said.
  • Bonding across departments and generations
The company has bonding activities, such as fishing, BBQs, and sports, he said.
“These activities serve as a platform for the multi-generations to interact and build bonds with one another. Talent are also encouraged to engage in social activities such as visits to charity homes, grooming workshops and friendly departmental competitions.”
  • Celebrating talent employment milestones
The company is sure to celebrate milestones of an employee’s long tenure. 
  • Flexible working arrangements
The hotel offers a flexible working arrangement of 22 hours a week, to allow mature workers to spend more time with family, if they so desire.
  • Workshops 
“There are activities such as healthy cuisine cooking classes, complimentary health checks, bowling sessions, yoga lessons and talks like “A Handle on Hypertension”, “Beat Stress and Relax”, “Beat Diabetes” and “Eat Your Way to Success” to create awareness and encourage a healthier lifestyle,” Fiat said.
  • Improving the work environment
Royal Plaza on Scotts created Chillax Lounge which is equipped with a projector for talent to unwind while watching movies or television programmes and bond with each other. Massage chairs are also available for employees to relax and pamper themselves during their free time.

“A happier workplace helps with the hiring and retention of our talent in the competitive labour market.

“We believe that all talent will be able to give back to the organisation through their service for what we are giving them through Chillax Lounge. Productivity will also increase with more well-rested and energised talent,” Fiat said.
  • Counseling one year before the retirement age
The hotel conducts engagement sessions with retiring employees on their re-employment prospects at least one year before they turn 62.

“This includes discussion for the training opportunities and the options of redeployment,” Fiat said.

The hotel’s HR staff also walks employees through the Pre-retirement and Re-employment Counseling course, offered by the Centre for Seniors.

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