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Singapore’s Best Employers 2023: Illumina Singapore Illustrates a ‘Culture of Care’

Singapore’s Best Employers 2023: Illumina Singapore Illustrates a ‘Culture of Care’

Published 04-20-23

Submitted by Illumina

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Biotechnology company Illumina Singapore has 1,800 employees in Singapore. PHOTO: ILLUMINA SINGAPORE

Originally published on The Straits Times

By Cheow Sue-Ann, Business Correspondent

SINGAPORE - Flexible time off, critical care leave, mentorship programmes and a week-long company-wide shutdown are just some of the policies that biotech company Illumina Singapore offers its 1,800 employees here.

Its unconventional “culture of care” approach has earned it a top 10 spot in this year’s Best Employers survey.

The firm began the practice in 2018, aiming to ensure that the diverse needs of each employee are met, whether it is time off or the opportunity to try out different roles in the company.

Ms Dorothy Wong, its vice-president of human resources in the Asia-Pacific, told The Straits Times that as a healthcare company, it is important to “walk the talk”, and make sure the well-being of employees is taken care of.

“We also believe that employees who stay positive and have their well-being looked after would be able to do a better job, they will contribute more and be more motivated.”

Ms Wong noted that it is important for the company to look after their staff in both good times and bad.

Because the company fell under essential services during the pandemic, this “created some opportunity for us to demonstrate that culture of care in how we quickly made sure that (employees) had a place to stay because they were willing to stay (on in Singapore) to work”.

“A lot of our foreign employees who were commuting daily decided to bring their luggage and stay in Singapore, so we ensured that they had safe and good accommodation.”

The company also shuts down for a week each year, usually in the week of July 4, to give everyone a chance to recharge their batteries.

It also does not stipulate a set amount of annual leave, allowing employees to take as much time off as they require. It also offers a critical care leave option if staff need time off for health or family emergencies.

Ms Wong noted that the company’s high retention and engagement rates also provide a measure of the happiness of its employees: “For our professionals, attrition has always been in the single digits.

“The only area that we may have a little bit higher attrition is really in production because there are more foreign workers. In that area, we are around the average for Singapore, at about 20 per cent. But for professionals, our numbers are really low.

“The philosophy is about showing care. I think, like any employer, you can never be perfect. So we have to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of the workforce.

“And by that I mean different generations and groups of workers, at any point in time, have different needs, so I think it’s a continuous journey that we all are learning.

Illumina strives to embody a culture of care that is fueled by supporting one another, promoting collaboration, inspiring innovation, and fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion. To learn more, click here

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Illumina is improving human health by unlocking the power of the genome. Our focus on innovation has established us as the global leader in DNA sequencing and array-based technologies, serving customers in the research, clinical, and applied markets. Our products are used for applications in the life sciences, oncology, reproductive health, agriculture, and other emerging segments. 

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