Hitachi’s Secret To Supporting NSmen? Trust.

Having won the NS Advocate Award in 2016 and 2020, Hitachi has been a longstanding advocate for NSman employees.

By Sean Yee        14 July 2023

Mr Tang Chay Wee,  Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Hitachi Asia Ltd empathises and understands the struggles of National Servicemen all too well. 

“Modern developments in our society demand that men take up extra responsibilities, such as domestic obligations and childcare, and even caregiver duties for their aging parents,” he remarked as he pondered over what it meant to be a National Serviceman in 2023. 

This rings especially true for many including two of Hitachi’s own employees. Mr Ray Yip, who has worked in its sales department for over four years, acknowledges that National Service becomes a full-time job when he is called up to participate in his annual In Camp Training (ICT). A military medic serving under the Medical Response Force (MRF), Ray notices his fellow servicemen fretting over their work and family responsibilities during his ICTs. 

He shared, “Those who have not served may not understand the anxiety and pressure faced by NSmen”.

Hitachi Asia understands these challenges all too well, having incorporated the pillars of the Konsei culture into its workplace. Referring to a diverse mix of voices, the Konsei way expands on the purest of human connections as it seeks to empower, lead, and support. It is this focal theme of diversity, inclusivity, and equality that accredited Hitachi Asia with NS Mark Gold, and awarded the prestigious NS Advocate Award in 2016 and 2020.

Unconditional support for a worthy cause

Mr Ray Yip (left) with Mr Tang Chay Wee (Centre) and Mr Wong Thin Wen (right)

To Hitachi Asia, National Service is indisputably a national duty and responsibility. As such, they strongly believe that servicemen should be able to give their very best during training without having to worry about any professional backlash. This ethos is trickled down from its management team all the way to Hitachi’s bottom-line, driving a firm respect and understanding of one’s patriotic contributions to his or her nation. 

Mr Ray Yip (left) with Mr Wong Thin Wen (right)

While managers are empowered to make decisions that accommodate the needs of their employees, there is nothing more valuable to a national serviceman than a supportive team. Mr Wong Thin Wen was only six months into his new role as an IT strategist when Covid-19 struck the nation. Given that he was a medic at SAF’s Military Medicine Institute, his call-up was inevitable. Stationed at the improvised Community Care Facility at Singapore Expo during the peak of an unprecedented health crisis, he was concerned about the impact his call-ups had on both his job and his family.

“I am so grateful to my team, as well as the Human Resource personnel, for being so patient and transparent with the whole process, especially when this ICT call-up was incredibly abrupt,” he said, praising his team’s willingness to cover his duties as he served at the forefront of Singapore’s medical counterforce during the Circuit Breaker.

This understanding extends to all of Hitachi Asia’s NS employees, having embraced flexible and hybrid working arrangements that are adaptive to ICT call-ups. For servicemen who carry multiple mantles like Thin Wen and Ray, this arrangement allows them to still chase their professional ambitions while fulfilling their duties as a soldier, and as a father. 

From the perspective of a National Servicemen himself

Mr Tang didn’t exactly have the most conventional of military experiences. During his time as an infantry soldier, he encountered an incident that affected his mobility. This did not dampen his attitude, however, as he recalled fondly great memories of the comradery he shared with his military mates. True to his adventurous spirit, he later successfully appealed to be classified as a combat fit soldier once more, and eventually joined his platoon mates in a once-in-a-lifetime parachuting experience. 

“Tomorrow will never be exactly how it is today,” prefaced Mr Tang as he emphasised the importance of preparedness. He believes in a proactive approach to people management, hoping to give his employees the best, but also challenge them so they do not remain complacent. Ultimately, his philosophy stems from a strong belief in putting people first.

When asked about the secret ingredient to cultivating a supportive workplace, he said, “Our secret ingredient is more ingredients. Just like a delicious meal, we believe that the key to our success is having a concoction of ingredients.” 

Of course, Mr Tang is referring to the many people-first policies that are already in place which include routine chats with management and interestingly enough, Hitachi Asia’s Recreational Club.

A club by the people, for the people

One of Hitachi Asia’s greatest strides in community building is its employee-initiated Recreational Club (RC). Incepted and managed by its own employees, the club is a collaborative effort by most, if not all of Hitachi’s stakeholders, including NSman employees. They would organise a multitude of welfare-related activities based on feedback given by their members. Past initiatives included care packages and Zumba classes. It’s very much a self-governed committee that at its heart, operates through a foundation of trust.

“We do not impose nor regulate, instead merely contributing consultation and advice to the RC. It is important that they are given the freedom to decide what our employees want, and that they know we trust them in this endeavour” said Mr Tang. 

He, and to an extent, Hitachi Asia, understands that there is no one-size-fits-all policy. A supportive and inclusive workplace demands a relationship of trust that values well-being and happiness. 

The virtue of National Duty

Above all, Hitachi Asia is a staunch proponent of national duty. It champions the notion of ‘powering good from within’, acknowledging that companies like theirs have to play a vital role in supporting our NSmen, so they may continue their peacekeeping efforts for the betterment of us all.  

We salute Hitachi Asia for its commitment to our National Servicemen and applaud them for their well-deserved NS Gold Mark!

Read about another NS Mark Gold employer at safra.sg/how-this-major-singapore-retailer-supports-employees-in-their-national-service-duties/

The NS Mark is a national-level accolade under the NS Mark Accreditation scheme that recognises companies and organisations for exemplary HR policies and practices that have improved the lives of NS employees.

For more information on how your company can support NS and be accredited with the NS Mark accreditation scheme, please visit go.gov.sg/supportns

If you’re looking for a job with a company accredited for supporting its NSmen, click here: safra.sg/jobs-for-nsmen

NSmen, sign up for your complimentary 1-year SAFRA membership and enjoy discounts on dining and shopping purchases at over 2,000 merchant outlets islandwide, as well as members’ rates at more than 45 sports facilities at SAFRA clubs! What’s more, your family can enjoy the privileges too – your 1st dependent pays $10/year, and it’s free for your 2nd dependent onwards. Click here for more details. 

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