“As the old history told, countries are not able to survive without the presence of National Service Men (NSmen) – which implies that without them business cannot prosper like today.”
In a male-dominated industry such as constructions and engineering, businesses might consider National Service (NS) as an impediment to their daily operations. However, the thought does not apply for Aegis Building & Engineering Pte Ltd. The company gives their full support to NSmen and embraces NS as part of the company culture. For their efforts, they received an award at this year’s Total Defence Awards ceremony.
We had a candid interview with Mr Yeong Wai Teck, Managing director at Aegis Building & Engineering Pte Ltd. Mr Yeong founded Aegis in 2002 and believes that supporting NSmen is the duty of every company in ensuring Singapore’s sovereignty.
Mr Yeong, as a company that support NS employees, can you please share us the pros and cons of hiring and retaining NSmen?
Answer: As a supporter of Total Defence, I believe that National Service (NS) is a key pillar to ensure Singapore’s sovereignty and our way of life. Embracing NS has since formed the foundation of Aegis’ core business considerations and how we make it an inclusive effort within the company. Hence, there is no difference in hiring and retaining NSmen, as we believe NSmen is an integral part of the Singaporean workforce.
NSmen employees might be busy with preparation work for their NS obligations which might affect their performance at work. What is your advice to avoid such issue?
Answer: As an NSmen myself, I abide by these 3 values and encourage my staff to do the same.
a. Lead a healthy lifestyle. Embrace fitness as part of your daily routine and exercise regularly to keep your body fit and ready.
b. Plan early. Before the reservist training, prepare the work to be handed over in advance, such as listing down the tasks that your colleagues can help to follow up.
c. Teamwork is important. Ask for support from your colleagues to cover your workload during reservist training, so that you can concentrate on your NS duties.
Aligning with your previous answers, what kind of incentives can a company provide to support their employees, especially NS employees?
Answer: NS not only protects our nation’s sovereignty, it also imparts values that cannot be obtained elsewhere. For Aegis, we give additional cash incentives to NSmen that performed well in their Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT), as well as present recognition certificates during our internal company events to NSmen that excelled during their reservist training. On top of that, Aegis has our own programmes to engage all our staff and recognise them for their good work performance.
How can NS employees balance career development while being fully committed to their NS obligations?
Answer: As mentioned above, I believe that NSmen is an integral part of our workforce and don’t see any differentiation between NS and non-NS employees. The core values of preparing early, being committed and self-driven applies to every single employee, not only those with NS duties.
How did Aegis become one of the award-winning company at the Total Defence Awards ceremony?
Answer: Aegis embraces NS as part of our company culture. We firmly believe in cross training of employees so that when NSmen need to attend to their NS obligations, his colleagues will be able to address the handover tasks competently. Aegis also believes in maintaining a balanced workforce, as we hire experienced workers who have already completed their Operationally Ready National Service (ORNS) training cycle. Lastly, we have interns to plug the gaps when needed.
We continuously monitor In-Camp Training (ICT) dates and annual leave to ensure that there is no conflict in schedules, allowing the NSmen to have peace of mind during their reservist training. Aegis is fully committed to the values of NS, and is proud to say that we are operationally ready all the time.
What can a company do to help NSmen prepare for their year of service, including supporting NSmen’s IPPT and ICT performance?
Answer: As shared above, it will be about helping them to embrace NS as part of life, drive teamwork and prepare early.
And what can employers do to welcome back ex-servicemen (ex-regulars joining the workforce)?
Answer: I will personally encourage all employers to have an open mind and embrace NS as a citizen’s duty to protect Singapore’s sovereignty. Driving the company culture to embrace NS and planning your operations in advance will not only serve the individual well, it will also benefit the company in the long run. Most importantly, it contributes to Singapore’s Total Defence and ensures that the country continues to prosper.
About Mr Yeong Wai Teck:
Yeong Wai Teck, Managing Director of Aegis Building & Engineering Pte Ltd, set up the building and construction services company 15 years ago to meet specific market demand. He now leads a team of 20 Executives and 150 workers in Aegis Building & Engineering, and is very active in volunteer work. He has been awarded the Singapore National Day Award in 2007 (PBM) and 2013 (BBM) and is currently volunteering as a Branch Secretary at the Pioneer SMC (led by Minister for Parliament Mr Cedric Foo) Meet the People Sessions.
About Total Defence Award:
Established in 1986, the Total Defence Awards (TDA) aims to recognise supportive employers and civil resource owners for their contributions towards National Service and Total Defence. TDA is now the highest national accolade that acknowledges exemplary individuals, small and medium enterprises, large companies and organisations for their outstanding support towards strengthening the defence of our nation.
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