It makes business sense to be family-friendly

It makes business sense to be family-friendly

The Government is calling for more businesses to be family-friendly, much like what shopping malls have done.

During a visit to Northpoint Shopping Centre in Yishun yesterday, Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) Halimah Yacob noted that families are finding it more difficult to find public spaces which cater to the diverse interests and needs of each family member.

Malls can be leveraged on to provide such a "total family experience" so the whole family will have the opportunity to spend time together, she said.

This is one way in which businesses can aid national efforts to build a pro-family environment and encourage Singaporeans to have more children, added Madam Halimah.

"People nowadays work such long hours and are desperate for time. Whatever time they have left, they would want to spend it doing practical things...but, at the same time, spend it with their families," she said.

She also pointed out that the bottom line of businesses could be improved if they were more family-friendly.

Northpoint is one such example. The mall, which completed its refurbishment three years ago, put in place nursing rooms with hot water and free wheelchair rental services, among other measures.

Since then, footfall to the mall has increased to 38.2 million last year from 36.4 million in 2010. Its revenue has also climbed by about $6 million to $45 million over the same period.

Madam Halimah yesterday also said that the Government is reviewing the Businesses for Families Grant, offered by MCYS to help firms put in place family-friendly amenities or programmes for customers.

It is considering pumping more money into the fund and increasing the incentives to businesses, she said.

The Government pumped $2 million into the fund in 2010, and has disbursed $1.5 million thus far. Some 68 companies have benefited from the grant since it was rolled out in 2007.

To date, a total of 5,501 businesses have pledged to be family-friendly, while 378 firms have achieved the family-friendly accreditation from the Businesses for Families Council.

These include companies like OCBC Bank, Home-Fix and McDonald's.

reicow@sph.com.sg

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