theAsianparent: Making a case for mothers

The largest parenting website in Southeast Asia, theAsianparent, is staying true to its word by crafting child-friendly policies for its own staff. HRM reveals more.

“Mothers are an underutilised resource in this region.”

So says Rico Wyder, Singapore Country Manager for theAsianparent. Having family-friendly policies means his organisation can attract a larger pool of possible candidates for every position.

“If we want to increase Singapore’s birth rate, our workplaces, employers and colleagues need to become more family-friendly,” he explains.

“It’s about finding the right balance; if businesses don’t start supporting mums at work, we will continue losing women from the workforce, or worse still, some women may simply refuse to have children.”

With a significant 66% of theAsianparent’s readers being full-time working mothers, Wyder admits the company understands their hardships and bears witness to the challenges they face.

“Though Singapore has policies in place to aid population growth, there are gaps in enabling mothers to get back to work,” he says.

“As Singapore’s top parenting company, our value of ‘for mums by mums’ drives us to reach out and to set a good example.”

Spelling out the policies

So, just what are some of theAsianparent’s child-friendly policies?

Wyder says the company offers flexible schedules to parents, whereby they can choose to start earlier in the day and to also go home earlier.

In addition, theAsianparent also offers work-from-home options for employees who are unable to travel to the office at all.

“We also have free daily lunch in the office, and kids are invited to join their parents for lunch at work,” Wyder states.

The organisation has also allocated a lockable room in which breastfeeding mothers can pump in a safe, healthy and positive environment.

“If day care falls through, employees can bring their kids to work, and both the parent and kid usually work in the conference room,” he adds.

People-friendly

Wyder makes it clear that theAsianparent “is an advocate for employers helping mothers to get back to work”.

“As a parenting company, we want to walk the talk, and lead by example,” he stresses.

“We now have concrete policies set in place which we can show and discuss with our partners and clients. We hope to inspire other companies to adopt some of these policies.”

Nevertheless, Wyder says that ultimately, it’s not about “family-friendly” policies so much as having “people-friendly” policies that allows the business to adapt to people’s lifestyles, and not the other way around.

“People are different and work well in different environments, and we accommodate this by ensuring we have internal communication channels over cloud,” he says.

“We also have meeting rooms so that people have a space that they can go to think and work individually or together.”

Better content creation?

Wyder says employees of theAsianparent are a lot more engaged in the office as a result of having the flexibility to manage their responsibilities and time.

“Since we allow employees to set their own working hours, parents in particular are able to manage their time a lot better,” he explains.

Wyder also says another interesting side effect is that non-parent employees get to better understand parents (and the website’s target audience), since they get to see first-hand what it’s like to manage a family.

“They get to interact with and see their colleagues and mums in action, which can inspire new content ideas,” he says.

In fact, during the firm’s hiring process, Wyder says theAsianparent screens its candidates and only hires people who are parents or who one day wish to become parents.

“We’ve had to turn down some great candidates because of this, but we feel it’s worth it,” he states.

“Implementing these policies is easier when people have a deeper sense of empathy for our users.”

Flexibility with accountability

While the policies designed by theAsianparent do facilitate a flexible working environment, Wyder says it is crucial to have very clear expectations about the working arrangements.

“Just because there is flexibility doesn’t mean that there isn’t accountability,” he highlights.

“We want to ensure that the team is accessible and have enough face time with each other for projects that require collaboration.”

Overcoming obstacles

Rico Wyder, Country Manager (Singapore), and Regional Vice President of Product, theAsianparent, says the organisation encountered several challenges when implementing its child-friendly policies. They included:

  • The upfront investment costs in creating baby and breastfeeding rooms in all regional offices;
  • Having to provide the same benefits across the regions so that working environments were similar and that benefits were fair; and
  • Making sure that teams had sufficient face time with each other throughout the day, especially across different time zones. Within local offices, teams now have a set number of hours together.

 

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