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More than 70 companies, individuals recognised for efforts in supporting employees with disabilities

SINGAPORE — Instead of the usual one-week training he conducts for new employees, environmental services department supervisor Davis Chew spends about three weeks helping new staff with disabilities at Yishun Community Hospital (YCH) to learn the ropes.

More than 70 companies, individuals recognised for efforts in supporting employees with disabilities

Mr Davis Chew, 38, a supervisor at the environmental services department of Yishun Community Hospital. He won the "Enabling Buddies" award during the 4th Enabling Employers Awards ceremony on July 21, 2017 at Pan Pacific Singapore. Photo: SG Enable.

SINGAPORE — Instead of the usual one-week training he conducts for new employees, environmental services department supervisor Davis Chew spends about three weeks helping new staff with disabilities at Yishun Community Hospital (YCH) to learn the ropes.

However, he does not just provide them with reading materials and verbal instructions, like for other staff. Instead, he demonstrates the task they have to do, then observes and corrects them while they try it out on their own.

Citing mopping as example, the 38-year-old said: “You and I will know we have to mop the floor in a certain manner. But for them, they may just do a quick left-right, so we need to show them that we need to do left-right, then up-down.”

They repeat this day after day, until the employee is well-versed at it.

Mr Chew is one of three employees who received the newly introduced “Enabling Buddies” award during the 4th Enabling Employers Awards ceremony on Friday (July 21) at Pan Pacific Singapore.

The award recognises individuals who have done well in supporting employees with disabilities at their workplaces.

“For people with disabilities, it’s not enough to just tell them,” said Mr Chew. “We also have to reinforce with demonstrating to let them know the desired standard, rather than just leaving them alone.”

More than 70 other companies and individuals were also recognised during the ceremony, organised by SG Enable, for their efforts in integrating persons with disabilities into the workforce.

In his speech, Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, who was the guest of honour at the ceremony, said: “Persons with disabilities excel in workplaces where they have supportive and understanding supervisors and co-workers, and they can do meaningful work that plays to their strengths and focuses on their abilities.”

Employers also play an important role in fostering a sense of identity in its employees, he added.

“When employers make reasonable accommodations for their needs, such as making the workplace accessible or allowing for flexible work hours, the employees with disabilities and their co-workers develop a stronger sense of belonging and pride to be part of an inclusive organisation, Mr Tan added.

Apart from Mr Chew’s award, Yishun Community Hospital itself bagged the Best Newcomer award for its inclusive practices. For instance, the hospital works closely with job coaches from the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS), who partner with supervisors such as Mr Chew to ensure that employees with disabilities are well-adapted.

“The job coaches come ahead of time and learn about the kind of work that the persons with disabilities will be doing, and … they help them adapt and cope with the kind of work demands that are required,” said YCH’s chief executive officer, Dr Pauline Tan.

While these employees may not understand clearly the instructions at times, the coaches are able to connect with them through “certain behaviours and language”.

“The job coaches will help to translate, and that helps the persons with disabilities make meaning and sense of their work,” she said.

Even though these employees tend to be slower when they first start the job, they “get the hang of it after a while” and can get the job done as well as their counterparts.

“They are really hardworking and very, very committed, and they don’t give us trouble at all. In fact, they are some of our best employees now,” Dr Tan said. “They’re really so good that we’re prepared to take in more.”

Meanwhile, United Overseas Bank (UOB) clinched the Leader Award for its creation of employment opportunities for individuals with diverse abilities at the UOB Scan Hub, the bank’s nerve centre for checking, digitisation and archiving of customer documents.

At the hub, 40 per cent of its employees are individuals with autism or have hearing impairment.

“... The Leader Award is an affirmation of UOB’s commitment to inclusive hiring ... We believe in harnessing the strengths of a diverse workforce and the advantages that these different skillsets can bring to the organisation, said Ms Susan Hwee, head of group technology and operations at UOB.

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