UOB launches flexi-work programme for retired staff to tap their skills

SINGAPORE – Mr Raymond Teo retired in June this year but the former UOB service associate is now back with the bank under a flexible work programme.

Based in the retail branch in Serangoon Gardens since August, he has been given a similar service associate role but works five days a week, compared to a full-timer’s 5½ days.

While his initial work commitment was for two months, he has extended his stint for a further three months until the end of the year.

Of his decision to return to work, Mr Teo, 68, said: “Not only does it help me to stay active, it also gives me the opportunity to connect with the younger generation and to stay up to date on the latest trends.” He had previously been with UOB for 48 years.

On Friday (Nov 5), UOB launched a new programme to provide flexible work opportunities for its retired employees, such as Mr Teo, who want to remain economically active.

Under the scheme, the bank will open up short-term and project-based opportunities in areas such as customer service, process and systems training, as well as operations and project advisory.

It will also explore expanding these flexible work opportunities to other roles.

Employees under this flexible work model will get healthcare benefits and insurance coverage, which are common concerns among gig workers, UOB said.

Speaking at the bank’s new employee clubhouse in Boat Quay on Friday, UOB deputy chairman and chief executive Wee Ee Cheong said: “Our gig employment model is an innovative approach to creating a flexible workforce which taps on current demographic and social trends.

“Besides creating flexible opportunities for our retirees to stay active and for the bank to tap on valuable skills and experience, it is also helping to create a vibrant society in Singapore where contribution and connection is not limited by age.”

The programme was unveiled at UOB’s annual #Better Future of Work festival, which is being held for the third year.

A recent staff survey by the bank found that about eight in 10 employees would consider some form of work after retirement, with a preference for flexi-work as work-life balance is their top priority at this stage in life.

The desire to stay employed is also reflected in the Ministry of Manpower’s annual labour force survey. It showed that the employment rate of residents aged 65 and above increased from 27.6 per cent in 2019 to 28.5 per cent in 2020.

Earlier this week, Parliament passed changes to laws which will see the retirement and re-employment ages for Singapore workers progressively raised to 65 and 70 respectively to support those who wish to continue working.

Manpower Minister Tan See Leng, in his speech at UOB’s event on Friday, noted that given Singapore’s demographic trends, companies need to view senior workers as an asset and harness an ageing but more experienced workforce as a positive driver for growth.

“Many seniors in Singapore are keen to continue working and are prepared to reskill, upskill and adapt themselves. Even those who decide to ‘retire’ may subsequently take on new roles, perhaps with lighter responsibilities, shorter hours and more flexibility,” he said.

UOB has been conducting a pilot since August, with retirees working in its retail branches to test and assess roles suitable for gig work ahead of the full launch of the programme in 2022. Mr Teo is among retirees participating in this pilot.

Mr Benny Chan, head of channels and digitalisation at UOB Singapore, said training and equipping new hires with the skills and knowledge to operate in a bank branch can be a lengthy process. It involves extensive training in areas such as internal cash handling and transactional processes.

This is often difficult for temporary staff, he noted. “This is why our retirees are so valuable as they can step into this role at short notice to fill our manpower gaps when needed.”

In his speech, Dr Tan also highlighted that building a future-ready workforce will require a shift in mindset and human-resource management approach.

More are recognising the value and that existing workers bring to the table, and work hard to retain and equip them with new skills even if the business direction changes.

“When hiring, these recognise the transferable skills that mid-career workers can bring, and provide them with a skills top-up so that they can excel at the job,” he added.

He noted how career conversion programmes, which help mid-career professionals reskill, are paying dividends for both and workers.

About nine in 10 individuals placed through these programmes remained employed after two years, and seven in 10 earned more than their last drawn salaries.

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