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Labour Movement Unveils New Initiative to Enhance Welfare of SME Employees

April 17, 2017

NTUC U SME unveiled a new initiative to help Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) employees by contributing to their welfare. Launching the NTUC Club Corporate Membership Scheme (NCCMS), it will allow SME employers to purchase NTUC Club’s corporate membership for their employees at $120 annually, or $ 10 per month, per employee.

The NCCMS is only open to SME partners, who have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with U SME. NTUC U SME currently has signed over 100 MOUs with 16 trade associations representing SMEs, along with individual SMEs as well. In total, NTUC U SME’s partnerships span a network of about 13,000 SMEs employing 300,000 workers.

This will help promote better work-life balance among SME employees working for the sector, by providing them access to privileges such as access to club facilities, participate in sports and recreational activities, and promotions from various NTUC merchant partners. The employees will also be able to apply for scholarships, bursaries and NTUC U Care vouchers.

This new launch is an outcome of the feedback gathered from SMEs by NTUC on the challenges they faced regards providing welfare to staff, owing to lack of resources. NTUC Assistant Director-General (ADG) Yeo Guat Kwang, who oversees the U SME said, “The companies also have problems in trying to match to bigger companies with the kind of staff benefits that they can extend to their workers.”

Yeo Guat Kwang further believes that by extending such benefits to SME employees, it will help employers facilitate better retention of key talent within organizations.  Greenpac Singapore CEO Susana Chong, on the other hand believes that “typical SMEs will not be afford such benefits” since costs have always been an issue.

Besides tapping on the NTUC Club benefits, both employees and the employers can also participate in engagement and networking events organized by U SME. U SME will be organizing sectoral roundtable sessions to enable SMEs share their concerns and discover the common challenges, and ways to tackle them.

Such issues include shortage of manpower, and how to attract and retain more Singaporeans. Both employees and employers can also participate in training and development programmes by the Labour movement.

See: TAP Will Be Enhanced to Help Improve Productivity of SMEs in Singapore

As recently, the labour movement partnered with Nanyang Polytechnic to help SMEs strengthen digital capabilities. With 70 per cent of Singapore’s workforce working in small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), the Labour Movement has been working with SME bosses and human resource (HR) managers to put in place good employment practices, to ensure that their workers are better taken care of.

As digital technology has the potential to transform businesses, SMEs’ ability to evolve and stay relevant amid technological disruptions becomes the key to competitiveness and survival of businesses and their workers. In this light, NTUC is urging SMEs to strengthen their digital competitiveness and supporting them in their journey to transition into the digital economy.

While digital technology and innovation can help businesses create ideas and value in their products and services, some SMEs may not know what digital tools are available or may find the cost of adopting these technologies too high for them. Thus, to assist SMEs in adopting digital technology and enhancing their digital capabilities, U SME is working with Nanyang Polytechnic’s Customer Experience and Analytics Centre (CEAC) to help U SME’s partner on their digital transformation journey.

Together with lecturers from a multi-disciplinary team, students at CEAC will work with SMEs to leverage digital technology and provide solutions to actual business challenges and issues faced by the SMEs.

Through this industry collaboration, the SMEs will be provided with a range of business solutions in customer experience management, particularly focusing on social media, customer analytics and omnichannel interactions management. The students will help SMEs analyze their digital footprint, monitor and manage their social media interactions, as well as plan and execute digital engagement strategies.

The students can also benefit from being able to apply what they have learned to real-world situations, while gaining knowledge of how to run a business, the challenges and constraints faced by the SMEs in daily working. This collaboration will enrich the learning experience of students, who are in their final year of study and prepare them for the new job demands in this digital age.

As SMEs adopt new digital technologies, workers need to adapt and renew their skills to enhance their employability and future-proof themselves too. To help workers in this area, U SME will work with training providers such as the NTUC LearningHub to provide relevant training for them, to stay abreast with the digital technological advancements.

“We are excited and look forward to working with Nanyang Polytechnic and helping our SMEs thrive in the digital age. The student projects will provide U SME partners with an avenue to adopt digital technology and improve their productivity. Ultimately, the collaborations between the Labour Movement’s expanding network and SMEs aim to benefit the enterprises so that together we can take better care of our workers,” said Mr Yeo Guat Kwang, Assistant Director-General of NTUC who oversees U SME.

U SME will also work with HR professionals to assist SMEs in tapping on existing Government schemes such as the Professional Conversion Programme to reskill their workers for tomorrow jobs. Through P-Max, SMEs will receive help in establishing better communication channels between supervisors and staff, and adopting progressive HR practices for newly-hired PMEs.

Also read: Have Asia’s SMEs Got Talent?

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