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Firms recognised for National Service-friendly policies
When Ms Cho Pei Lin revised the human resources policy at her public relations firm Asia PR Werkz in 2016, it included formalising several schemes to ensure that employees are able to fulfil their National Service (NS) duties while juggling work responsibilities.
“Before the review, our NSman employees could take an hour off here and there to train for their physical fitness test, or half a day to recover from their In-Camp Training (ICT), but this was an informal arrangement. We wanted to spell it out in our policy so that our employees are comfortable asking for the time off,” says the 42-year-old managing director.
“By putting our support for NS upfront and in our human resources policy, everyone in our company is on the same page. When we checked with our staff whether this was something they would welcome, the answer was a resolute yes,” she adds.
For establishing such pro-NS policies within the company, Asia PR Werkz was accredited with NS Mark (Gold). Launched in 2016, the NS Mark is a national-level accreditation scheme that recognises businesses and organisations for supporting NS and Total Defence.
Last year, Asia PR Werkz progressed to being among the 148 recipients of the prestigious NS Advocate Awards at the Total Defence Awards 2020 virtual ceremony held on Nov 25. It won an NS Advocate Award for Small and Medium Enterprises.
Mr Eugene Syn, 28, a senior associate at Asia PR Werkz, says that he was appreciative of his company’s care for its NSman employees. “Sometimes our ICT can be very tiring, and it’s good to have some time to recuperate before going back to work. It helps us get back into the right mindset for work and be more productive,” he explains.
Good for business
Supporting NS helps firms in other ways too. Consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) International Operations SA Singapore Branch, which received the NS Advocate Award for Large Companies, enables staff to plan their work around personal obligations, including ICT call-ups.
“We believe that NS builds strong leaders. It strengthens teamwork, discipline and determination, fuelled by a passion to serve, and these are qualities that are valued by employers like P&G,” says Ms Cecilia Tan, 46, the company's vice-president for government relations and public policy for Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa.
Mr Tan Ming Jie, 31, a senior manager in business planning for Asia Pacific in P&G, says: “My managers, teammates and I develop plans so that I can go for my ICT without having to worry about work.”
“P&G gives us the flexibility to balance our work and our duty to serve our nation as NSmen. I’m grateful to have my employer's full support when it comes to how I manage my own time, which allows me to focus on what matters the most, be it work, family or ICT. It feels great to be part of such an organisation,” he adds.
P&G has also championed NS through other actions, including hosting the 2017 and 2018 Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Day Combined Rededication Ceremony, and by partnering with local retailers to offer discounts on its Gillette products to SAF and HomeTeamNS members on SAF Day, which is July 1.
Prince’s Landscape, one of the oldest plant nurseries in Singapore, also won an NS Advocate Award for Large Companies. When it interviews job candidates who have gone through NS, it encourages them to share more about their NS experiences and what they learnt during the process.
“If a candidate received positive testimonials about their character and attitude during their time in NS, those are also advantages beyond their previous work background and academic achievements, because those are two very important aspects of the people we want to join our organisation,” says Mr Bernie Low, 43, the firm’s general manager.
Prince's Landscape also gives NSman employees time off to train for their annual physical fitness test, prepare for ICT, and rest and spend time with their family after the training, before returning to work.
Furthermore, it offers all NSmen and full-time national servicemen a 20-per-cent discount for flowers and gifts during the month of July, in support of the SAF Day Recognition Campaign. “It’s a simple gesture of our appreciation for our servicemen,” says Mr Low.
Like Asia PR Werkz, both P&G and Prince’s Landscape had progressed from NS Mark (Gold) accreditation to being conferred their NS Advocate Awards at the Total Defence Awards 2020.
At the virtual awards ceremony, Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen, the guest of honour, noted that Total Defence plays a significant part in preparing Singapore for the disruptive changes happening around the world today.
He says: “All we can do is to ensure that we remain intact and emerge stronger amid these changes. We keep vigilant, continue strengthening our defence capabilities, build partnerships with other friendly countries and stand together solidly as one people for Total Defence. For the SAF, a strong support for NS is vital to Total Defence. I want to thank all our NSmen and their employers for your continuing support.”
NS Mark Accreditation Scheme
The NS Mark is a national-level accreditation scheme that recognises businesses and organisations for their support of National Service (NS) and Total Defence (TD). The scheme comprises two tiers — the NS Mark and NS Mark (Gold):
NS Mark: This is the basic tier that recognises businesses and organisations for pledging their support for NS and TD.NS Mark (Gold): This tier is awarded to businesses and organisations that have demonstrated a higher level of support through implementing pro-NS policies and human resource practices. Recipients of NS Mark (Gold) will be considered annually for the prestigious Total Defence Awards (TDA).
Embark on an exciting journey from accreditation to award with the Ministry of Defence.
Read and be inspired by the advocacy efforts of the NS Advocate Award 2021 recipients here.
To find out more, visit https://www.ns.sg/web/portal/nsmen/home/employer/employer-recognition/ns-mark or email Lo_Mun_Wah@mindef.gov.sg / Vithya_Sharmini@mindef.gov.sg for enquiries on NS Mark.