The supermarket chain has been conferred the Plaque of Commendation at the NTUC May Day Awards 2023 for its unwavering dedication to employee welfare and competitive wages.
Interview and translation by Gregory Loo Jhun Rhong
In the bustling aisles of Sheng Siong, one of Singapore’s local supermarket chains, something remarkable unfolds every day.
It’s a culture that nurtures, supports, and uplifts every employee, ensuring their wages are competitive, their welfare well-taken care of, and their contributions valued.
It is a testament to their unwavering dedication to their employees’ well-being and the positive impact they have made in their lives.
At the heart of this culture stands Lim Hock Chee, 62, the humble CEO who believes in leading by example.
Dressed in the same uniform as his staff, you’ll often find him stacking shelves, working side-by-side with his team.
Speaking passionately in Mandarin, he said: “Here at Sheng Siong, there are no superiors. All of us are employees. The success we enjoy today is the cumulative fruits of all our efforts.”
One of the company’s key initiatives is supporting employees’ children’s education.
Mr Lim explained: “We have recently amended our scheme to support employees in providing an allowance for their school-going children.
“Every month, a sum of money tailored to their child’s current educational level will be transferred to their accounts to provide their children an allowance.”
It’s a small gesture that speaks volumes about Sheng Siong’s commitment to their employees’ families.
Sheng Siong goes above and beyond to assist employees facing financial difficulties.
Mr Lim said: “We have schemes to support employees who are single parents or those who face financial difficulties.”
This bears testament to their commitment to ensuring no one is left behind during challenging times.
When it comes to fair compensation, Sheng Siong is a company at the forefront.
They were early adopters of the Retail Progressive Wage Model (PWM) to uplift employees’ basic salaries.
Mr Lim revealed: “Although the scheme was supposed to gradually lift the wages over a three-year period, we decided to allow our workers to receive the higher wages within the first year of its implementation due to rising inflation and the cost of living.”
This decision showcases Sheng Siong’s dedication to supporting their employees’ financial well-being.
Lifelong learning is also a core value at Sheng Siong.
“We believe in lifelong learning. As such, we often send our employees for courses for them to learn new skills,” Mr Lim said.
By empowering their workforce with the necessary knowledge and skills, Sheng Siong ensures that their employees are equipped to adapt and thrive in an ever-evolving industry.
During the trying times of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Lim demonstrated his unwavering support for his team.
“Our ability to cover for these staff members depends on our ability to perform their assigned tasks.
“For example, if their assigned tasks were handling pork, I can cover for them because that is my speciality,” he explained.
This hands-on approach during challenging times reflects Mr Lim’s dedication and the unity that exists within the company.
But it’s not just about financial support and leadership. Sheng Siong fosters a close-knit, supportive work environment that is like a family.
Staff members, like storekeeper Phaw Lai Poh, express their satisfaction and gratitude.
Lai Poh shared: “Given the COVID-19 pandemic, the slowing economy, and growing inflation, the company has been very understanding and has increased our salary twice to help us cope.”
Sheng Siong’s commitment to its employees extends beyond the workplace.
Chong Lee Thoong, assistant chief cashier, recounts a heartwarming interaction with Mr Lim.
“Previously, my boss also attended my wedding and enquired if I had gotten my PR [permanent residency],” she said.
“After I was assigned to another branch, he recognised me during one of his store visits and again asked if I had obtained my PR. I told him I had obtained my PR, and he was very happy for me.”
Such personal interest and support demonstrate Sheng Siong’s genuine care for each employee.
Through their continuous efforts to ensure employees’ welfare, Sheng Siong has created a work environment where employees feel valued, supported, and empowered.
As Mr Lim stated: “I owe my success to the efforts of all the employees. There needs to be internal cohesion between all employees to bring the company towards achieving our goals and attain further progress as one.”
Sheng Siong’s story is a testament to the transformative power of a company that truly values its employees. Their commitment to fostering a culture of care and support inspires businesses worldwide, proving that success can be achieved when employees are at the heart of every decision.
In the bustling aisles of Sheng Siong, a shared vision comes to life – an image where success is measured not only in profits but in the happiness and well-being of every employee.