The right formula

by | October 1, 2009

Royal Plaza on Scotts shares its success in hiring mature workers and shows it is well-ahead of the 2012 re-employment law.

BY: Eleanor Yap

Three Singapore companies recently won the 2009 AARP International Innovative Employer Awards for age-friendly employment practices, organised by US-based AARP, a group representing older Americans, and the Council For Third Age (C3A) here in Singapore. The companies include Housing & Development Board (HDB), National Healthcare Group (NHG) and Royal Plaza on Scotts, and were among 10 international award winners. We chat with Royal Plaza on Scotts’ general manager, Patrick Fiat, to share his organisation’s winning formula and tips for other companies:


Congrats on your award. Just curious but why did you decide to not ask someone’s age in the application? Wouldn’t you be able to decipher it nonetheless when a person shares his birth date? 

Royal Plaza on Scotts hires employees based on their brand fit and their skill sets, rather than their age. We have embarked on this policy since 2007. The application form consists of all crucial information needed for the records upon recruitment. The data also allows us to get to know the employees on a more personal level when the colleagues can celebrate the occasion together. The birth date does not play a significant role in our selection.


There are a number of initiatives you have that are geared to mature employees. Can you briefly explain each?

1) Flexible hours and the grandchildren initiative – The flexible working arrangement is available (22 hours per week) so that the mature employees can spend more time with their family in their golden years. An example of how work and life comes together seamlessly for our employees will be the special arrangements which were made for some of our mature employees who wanted to look after the grandchildren in the day to work permanent afternoon shift.

2) Putting mature employees with the younger generation of new hires – The mix of the multi-generations compliments the organisation’s structure as the younger employees bring in the energy and zest while the mature employees are here to take the younger ones under their wings to provide guidance.

3) Workshops – The employees of the hotel are strongly encouraged to have a work-life balance. We have incorporated a recreational room named the Recharge Lounge for the employees to unwind in. Various programmes which promote healthy living and employees’ well-being are conducted on a monthly basis to ensure that the employees remain active and positive. There are activities such as cooking sessions, aerobics lessons, and talks like “Boosting your immunity” and “Planning your CPF” to create awareness and encourage a healthier lifestyle.

Employees are also encouraged to engage in social activities such as visits to charity homes, grooming workshops and friendly departmental competitions. These activities serve as a platform for the multi-generations to interact and build bonds with one another.

4) Counseling one year before the retirement age – The engagement session with the retiring employees on their re-employment prospects are conducted at least one year from their retirement age (62 years old). This includes discussion for the training opportunities and the options of redeployment.

5)    Any others?

Healthier choices are highlighted in the staff cafeteria for dishes with less salt and less oil. Daily fruits are made available for a balanced and healthier diet.


I am assuming the mature workers get assessed yearly? 

Mature workers above the age of 62 will be assessed yearly to check if they are medically fit for employment.


What percentage of staff are currently over 50 years and above? Which employee is the oldest and what age?

Twenty-seven percent of our workforce is currently 50 years old and above. The most elderly staff is 68-year-old Low Sing Fook, who works in the Housekeeping Department as a houseman. He is in charge of the cleanliness of the public area.


Since you have initiated the re-hiring policy in 2007, how many staff have been re-employed? In what jobs are they in now? 

Five have been re-employed since 2007. The re-employed employees are currently in the positions of housekeeping attendants, technician, pay master and security manager.  As long as the employees are fit for employment, with good work performance records, we will offer them the chance to be re-employed.
















**   2007 – 1 staff decided to retire from service; 1 was not re-employed due to medical condition 
*    2008 – 1 staff decided to retire from service


You are really way ahead of the curve, compared with other companies, and before the 2012 initiative. What challenges did you face initially with these policies? Are there other initiatives that you will be instituting soon for mature workers?

As the remuneration package consists of a 30 percent pay-cut from the last drawn salary, some of the mature workers were hesitant about getting re-employed. We highlighted the advantages, such as financial independence and the opportunity to continue their lifelong learning, when they continue the employment.

There are some preparatory measures in place for the employees of retirement age. Staff who are retiring within the 23 months of the official retirement age i.e. 62 years old will be required to undergo the READY (Re-employment: Equipping & Developing yourself) programme. The HR personnel are scheduled to attend the Pre-retirement & Re-employment Counseling course, which is offered by the Centre for Seniors. This programme will assist the management to better understand and manage the issues and concerns of the pre-retirees.


Why are mature employees important in any organisation?

Mature employees are invaluable assets to any organisation as they are able to share their wealth of experience with the younger employees. They are a source of committed and reliable workforce, which can be tapped on to fill in the gaps in a labour crunch. In addition, the mature employees are able to share their wisdom and knowledge with the younger generation. 


Why do you think companies are hesitant on hiring mature workers?

It is a general mindset that the mature workers are not contributing as much to the organisation and might even add on to the burden as they might fall sick frequently. This will add to the companies’ medical expenses. And being the older generation, the mature workers might have the embedded old school of thoughts in them. With these common concerns, the organisations might prefer the younger generation for their fresh minds and technology savvy skills, missing out on the positive traits that the mature workers are able to bring in.


What advice would you give to other companies on hiring mature workers? And what advice would you give to mature workers?

The mature workers represent a rich source of untapped manpower. Singapore’s ageing workforce calls for companies to constantly retrain the mature workforce to ensure their employability beyond the retirement age. At the same time, it will be useful to revise the benefits package so that it stays relevant.

Exercise flexibility and reassess job duties that suit the needs of the individuals so that they are able to perform their tasks to the fullest. Individuals might have different strengths so by assigning the duties and responsibilities accordingly, the organisation is able to tap on their expertise effectively. The management should also continue to motivate the mature workers at all times and let them know that their contributions to the organisation are recognised and valued.

Mature workers should be prepared to explore the possibility of working beyond the age of 62 and be open-minded to adapt themselves to the environment and embrace changes. They should also be prepared to learn and be under the supervision of younger leaders. The positive attitude for engaging in lifelong learning would also be helpful to the individuals as they continue to go for upgrading courses.


Anything else you would like to add?

We are glad that we have embarked on this journey and it has proven to be beneficial to both the organisation and the mature workforce.



Working at Royal Plaza on Scotts

Grandmother of four, Eileen Gian, 57, is currently a kitchen helper. She joined Royal Plaza on Scotts since early last year when she came across the hotel’s recruitment exercise for full-time and flexible work arrangement positions. Gian was previously from the spa industry where she handled kitchen duties as well.

Despite the different natures of the industries, she has never felt lost during the initial phase when she was paired up with an experienced full-timer under the buddy system, that is in-place to guide new-joins. This will help the new-joins adapt better to the new environment and job duties. Gian shared that her current position is stress-free and she enjoys the working in the fun-filled environment, livened by her fellow colleagues. 
“I have more personal time for myself and my family. With the extra time on hand, I can visit my grandchildren and spend more time with them. The flexible work arrangement strongly encourages work-life balance for mature workers who would like to rejoin the workforce. 
I came back to the workforce as I felt that I am still fit enough to contribute to the society. It would be boring for someone who is physically fit to stay at home. Furthermore, my current job consists of tasks, which I am comfortable with.
It is also an interesting organisation to work for as the colleagues from all departments work as a team. Activities such as cooking classes and overseas outings have also been organised by the HR Department to build rapport and closer ties between the employees of the hotel.”



  1. Barbara

    Hi my name barbara stay at home senior well fit. Age 59 looking

    For a part – time or freelance jobs and I would like to come down for an interview

    If there any position available.

    • agelessadmin

      Thanks, Barbara for your message. I have e-mailed you personally.


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