Strong family bonding is becoming even more pertinent amidst the challenges posed by the COVID-19 season. To celebrate the importance of spending quality family time over a meal and building stronger family ties, Eat With Your Family Day (EWYFD) is encouraging more companies to allow their employees to leave work early at least four times a year so that they can enjoy a meal together with their families.
Underpinned by multiple research studies that show how connecting as a family over a meal can improve the physical and mental health of family members, EWYFD was launched in 2013 by the Centre for Fathering to encourage organisations to arrange for employees to leave work at 5pm so that they can eat with their families. The initiative also aims to remind parents to put aside time to eat with their children regularly.
Held on the last Friday of each school term, the dates for EWYFD 2020 are 13 March, 17 July, 4 September and 20 November. It is brought to you by MUMS for Life, DADs for Life and Centre for Fathering, in support of Made for Families.
“Research has shown that children who eat with their parents thrive emotionally, socially and academically. It is therefore important for parents to put aside time daily, away from work and devices, to connect with their children during meals,” said Mr Bryan Tan, CEO of DADs for Life and Centre for Fathering.
He added, “Employers play a critical role in supporting families, as better work-life integration leads to stronger productivity, higher staff commitment and greater job satisfaction. As such, it is important for companies to embrace EWYFD to nurture a family-friendly work culture. Even with employees working at home due to COVID-19, employers can encourage them to consciously stop work early to have a meal with their families.”
Building a family-friendly work culture
Companies such as City Developments Ltd (CDL), Etiqa Insurance Pte Ltd and Eu Yan Sang International Ltd have adopted EWYFD with the intent of creating a family-friendly work culture and promoting greater work-life harmony.
“As a family-friendly company, CDL recognises that employees can be more productive and effective at work when they are able to harmonise family and work responsibilities. Over the years, we implemented a series of other initiatives and schemes to foster a family-friendly work culture. EWYFD has become an integral part of our family-friendly initiatives. Since 2012, we have also increased the frequency of this initiative to four times a year to encourage employees to leave work earlier to have dinner with their family,” said Mr Steven Tan, Chief Human Resource Officer, City Developments Ltd.
“Here at Etiqa, we believe that family support is instrumental in reducing work stress and facilitating productivity. With this in mind, our company practices EF2F — Early Friday 2nd Friday — to allow staff to return home early the second Friday of each month for dinner with their family. This arrangement boosts staff moral while creating a culture of good work-life balance in the company,” said Mr Collin Sta Maria, Head of Human Capital, Etiqa Insurance Pte Ltd.
“At Eu Yan Sang, we not only believe our people are a key contributor to our success, but also that their families inspire them to be the best they can be. EWYFD allows us to recognise both our staff and their families. We started this in 2018, as one of many family-friendly programs that we offer, including staggered working hours and a lactation room, among others. These supportive practices provide our staff greater work-life balance and strengthen Eu Yan Sang’s ability to attract and retain talent, as well as improve employee engagement and morale,” said Mr Aaron Boey, Group Chief Executive Officer, Eu Yan Sang International Ltd.
Reflecting employees’ appreciation of this initiative, Ms Loh Ferng Lyng, Manager, CDL, said, “With my husband and I working full-time, we seldom get to have family dinners as our kids usually have their meals by 6pm. I really appreciate that CDL grants us an early release of 1.5 hours every quarter on the last Friday of the school term. This allows our family to get together and have a good meal and brings us closer as a unit. It has become such a joy that my children look forward to EWYFD and will constantly remind us when the date draws near!”
Special EWYFD programmes to enhance family bonding
To support families who may be facing challenging times during the COVID-19 season, the organisers of EWYFD are working with over 40 organisations to plan a special programme for their employees. The 150 families nominated by their organisations will be receiving a family meal delivered to their homes on Friday, 4 September 2020. These families can also participate in a photo contest and movie trivia to win prizes and goodie bags.
In addition, EWYFD 2020 is also offering:
- Special deals from merchants islandwide which provide families with more food, retail and fun options for family outings;
- Complimentary fathering and parenting workshops conducted by the Centre for Fathering;
- A special movie screening of “Happy Feet” on 4 September 2020 at 6.20pm on Mediacorp Channel 5.
For more information, go to fathers.com.sg/ewyfd.