07 Aug 2015 12:00:00 AM

Flexible Work Arrangements, Family Friendly Facilities and Work-Life Benefits

Published on February 14, 2014
Shell is a worldwide group of oil, gas and petrochemical companies with presence in over 70 countries. It’s one of the largest independent oil and gas enterprises in the world. Shell in Malaysia has been present for over 100 years with operations across the value chain including Upstream, Downstream, Projects and Technology and Business Operations.

“The embedding of diversity and inclusion in our business plans will help ensure we reach our goal of becoming the most competitive and innovative energy company. We must ensure our energy portfolio is attractive to both partners and customers. We cannot achieve this without a diverse workforce that reflects the diversity of our partners, customers and the countries in which we operate. A diverse population in Shell contributes different ways of thinking, and through that provides the innovation we need to ensure our portfolio is both attractive and resilient. Collaboration is critical to our success. Inclusion and inclusive behaviors are at the heart of effective collaboration, be it with team members, colleagues in other parts of our company, partners in our joint ventures, or most importantly with our customers. It is therefore vitally important that we do not view diversity and inclusion as a “nice to do” or an “add on” to business as usual. It must be at the heart of our business plans in the same way that safety is.”

- Ben van Beurden, CEO Royal Dutch Shell

Shell has been recognised as an Employer of Choice, offering a range of benefits for their employees. In 2008, Shell Malaysia implemented a Flexible Work Arrangement programme to cater to the needs of the ever-evolving workforce. The company believes in providing a culture where individuals are encouraged to explore ways to balance work and personal interests. Currently this programme is offered to all employees and utilization is based on the employee’s nature of work.

In line with Shell’s Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) policy, the company believes in creating a work environment that values differences in people. Their D&I policy links diversity to business performance and focuses on diverse talents as a source of potential contribution to the business. Through their D&I policy, Shell aims to achieve the following three key areas:
  • Attraction and retention of top talent

  • Increased productivity

  • Stronger Customer/Market Focus
In addition, Shell aims to increase the representation of women in senior management roles up to 20% in the long term globally through the use of flexible work arrangements. These strategies are set at a global level and customized within local business units to incorporate the different practices, legislation and cultures of their global operating units.

A project team was established to oversee the programme development and implementation which included activities such as stakeholder management, policy design and communication to all staff.

Flexible Working Arrangements
  • Career Break
  • Staff requiring leave of absence between 3 months to 3 years may apply for a long term career break with no pay. Such long leave may be granted for personal development or family needs provided this can be done in a manner that does not disrupt business operations and where there is a clear intent to return to work for Shell.

  • Flexible Working Hours
  • Number of hours an employee is expected to work each week is stated in the contract of employment. Each work group will have a prerogative to establish a pattern of core working hours (hours when all employees will normally be available) and this may or may not include designated start and finish times depending on job type. Flexible hours arrangement should not lead to reduced work hours in a week or a month and is contingent upon deliverables being met.

  • Part Time Work
  • Allows Manager and employees the greatest flexibility to effectively manage the delivery of their work while managing their own personal work life balance. Such working patterns also seek to provide employment opportunities for employees who are not able to work on a full time basis either in the short term or long term.

  • Working beyond retirement age
  • For Shell employees, the Company will pro-actively review employees approaching retirement to identify those that they wish to invite to work beyond retirement age. Employees may also initiate a request to have their employment extended beyond the retirement age if they have not been approached.

  • Working outside office
  • Employees may request from the Company to work at a preferred location (e.g. at home) on either ad hoc or regular basis to balance their work and life needs. Managers and employees need to establish whether this would be a mutually beneficial arrangement, and consider all relevant issues including how contact will be maintained with others and what work hours will be observed.

Family Friendly Practices
  • Designated car park for pregnant women
  • Priority for in house parking allocation and designated car park bays given to pregnant women and those with medical conditions.

  • Mother’s Room
  • A fully equipped private room for nursing mothers with multiple cubicles. Room is equipped with breast pump, sterilizer, refrigerator, wash basins and lockers.

Work Life Benefits
  • Extended maternity leave
  • Half pay leave for staff who wish to extend their maternity leave beyond 60 days. Virtual work arrangements in consultation with line managers for new parents can be further discussed.

  • Childcare support subsidy
  • Monthly childcare support subsidy provided for employees with young children. This support is meant to assist employees to care for their children while they are at work.

  • Half Pay Leave
  • Assist employee who require leave of absence to fulfill personal and/or family obligations – to care for immediate family members or to extend maternity leave.

  • Leave Bank 
  • Employees are allowed to store additional leave days when unable to utilize for business or work related reasons during a calendar year and unable to bring forward the leave days to the following calendar year.

  • Unpaid Leave
  • Staff can apply for unpaid leave for a maximum of 3 months per application with a 12-month gap between applications.

Stakeholder Support

Stakeholder buy-in is fundamental in ensuring the long term success of the initiative. In the case of Shell Malaysia, Country Leadership team is the driving force behind the flexible work programme which is presided by the Chairman of Shell Malaysia. HR also plays a critical role in ensuring the right policies are in place in order to consistently apply the flexible work practices across the entire business. Their role also facilitates the retention of top performers and attracts potential recruits by working closely with Managers to identify appropriate flexible work options based on the nature of work.

Since the implementation of flexible work arrangement, Shell Malaysia has been successful in retaining talent in particular females who are seeking greater flexibility in their work and personal life. The flexible work arrangements initiatives has resulted in positive business results and increased in employee engagement.

This success is reflected in a post implementation study which was conducted two years following the launch of the flexible work policies. There are high utilization rate particularly in the areas of half pay leave, extended maternity leave and career break. As part of continuous commitment to employees, Shell Malaysia will continue to enhance the flexible work initiatives to meet both the company’s and employee’s goals.

  • Leadership
    • Leadership commitment from the top

  • Organisational Alignment
    • Robust HR Policies & Procedure
    • Communication – Internally & Externally

  • Vibrant and Connected Work Place

Wisma Shell, Cyberjaya is certified Platinum Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED).
Shell Business Operations in Cyberjaya is a Global Business Service Center providing complete and diverse portfolio of business services to Shell Group of Companies which includes Information Technology (IT), Finance Operations, Human Resources, Contracting and Procurement, Customer Service and Order to Delivery.

About 80% of the roles are regional and global and in a virtual setting. This provides an opportunity for job sharing and part time working within the organization.

Josephine SF Chuang,
Vendor Liaison & Demand Manager
(Part time worker on Job sharing basis in a Global IT role since January 2014. Josephine works 3 days in a week on a job sharing basis with her colleague based in Europe).

“I truly enjoyed the advantage of part-time working in a job sharing mode where it enables me to remain in the workforce. With many years of experience gained in the corporate world, it is always good to be able to contribute back to the company. On the other hand, I appreciate the off days that I have where I am able to attend to my children’s growing demands. Overall, it provides me the right balance between work and family at this point of time.”

Critical factors in ensuring the success of the job sharing
  • Line manager’s trust and confidence on an employee to perform her job from a distance/virtually

  • Structured process to keep both parties in the loop of the activities involved. For example, creation of a functional mailbox to allow the team members to keep track of all emails and communications with external stakeholders

  • Strictly adhere to the agreed working days in a week. Out-of-office message is turned on during “off days” where stakeholders are kept informed

  • Clear communication of the working hours and availability to the stakeholders

  • Set one day in a week to work together to perform handover activities

  • Good document management practices. Common documents are stored in SharePoint and is constantly updated which also includes the Handover spreadsheet. Handover spreadsheet provides the current status and the next steps

Results with job sharing initiative so far
  • Job sharing between two persons allows for greater business continuity and no disruption to the work even when one partner is on leave

  • Job sharing carried out between partners from different time zone provides a greater coverage as a team without disruption to work life balance

Other support provided by the organization
  • Assign a local supervisor if the role is global and virtual to assist employee in any local or HR matters

  • Video conferencing enables virtual face to face meeting between employees from different location. Office Communicator and Live Meeting are great IT tools to connect people together in a virtual world

Elaine Ng,
Business Analyst IT
(Part time worker in a global project role since January 2014. Elaine works 80% of the full time hours in a week).

“I truly appreciate this part time working arrangement provided by Shell, it enables me to better manage my work-life balance. I have better relationship with my spouse and my kids, and also more time for myself personally. I hope there will be more companies practising this especially for working mothers, so that they can remain in the workforce.”

Critical factors in ensuring the success of part time working
  • Clear communication with line manager, team members and stakeholders on the working arrangements, work load and allocated resources for the project

  • Trust and respect from stakeholders and team members

  • Out-of-office message is turned on and calendar is updated during off days so users are informed of availability

  • Performance assessment and appraisal are done objectively

Results with part time working initiative so far
  • Better work life balance by having an extra day with the family

  • Better time management and setting right priorities on work

  • 2014: Winner of Best International Organization, Life At Work Award, Shell Malaysia

  • 2013: Malaysia HR Awards-Grand Award for Employer of Choice, Shell Business Service Centre Sdn Bhd

  • 2013: Canada’s Best Diversity Employers, BMO Financial Group

  • 2012: Top 50 Employers for Women, The Times, UK

  • 2012: Employer of Choice for Women, Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA)