Work-Life Balance in the Singapore Workplace

Work-Life Balance in the Singapore Workplace
In 2015, 65 companies and individuals were recognised in the “Best Companies for Mums” contest for their efforts in building family-friendly work environments. (SHUTTERSTOCK)
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By Joel Nguyen

A workplace with work-life harmony is beneficial not only for employees but also for employers. According to reports by the Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the implementation of work-life balance measures at companies helps employees sustain their peak performance and increases the productivity of the companies.

A study by the Singapore National Employers Federation in 2003 found that for every $1 investment in work-life programmes, companies receive a return of $1.68. Furthermore, companies with work-life balance strategies can attract and retain talent better. They also improve employee engagement, reduce health-related costs, and increase customer satisfaction.

With such a win-win situation for both companies and employees, work-life balance programmes are recommended and supported by MOM for organisations in Singapore. These programmes can be implemented with a four-step cycle:

1)Establishing the need of the company to implement or modify work-life programmes

2)Assessing the needs for work-life balance of both companies and employees

3)Implementing the work-life programmes

4)Evaluating the implemented work-life programmes

The implementation of work-life programmes varies from sector to sector. For instance, in the banking sector, work-life programmes can be in the forms of part-time work, telecommuting, and flexible benefits. In the healthcare sector, important work-life programmes include compressed work schedules, part-time work, and health & wellness programmes. The IT sector, on the other hand, is recommended to use technology to let employees control how they work. For example, work-life programmes at IT companies can include telecommuting and a flexible work culture.

For SMEs, it is usually challenging to implement work-life balance programmes due to their small workforce and competition from other established companies. So, many SMEs do not have work-life programmes. However, those with good work-life programmes usually receive the benefits of sustained growth and committed employees.

Shifting Toward Work-Life Harmony

Many companies in Singapore are shifting toward a workplace with work-life harmony.

According to a survey by MOM in 2014, 90% and 70% of employers provide compassionate leave and marriage leave for their employees respectively. 40% of the companies also provide unpaid leave for employees to pursue their own personal interests, go on sabbatical, or attend to family matters. The percentage of companies allowing formal flexible work arrangements such as part-time work has improved from 38% in 2011 to 47% in 2014.

In 2015, 65 companies and individuals were recognised in the “Best Companies for Mums” contest for their efforts in building family-friendly work environments. The awardees were nominated based on their personal stories and criteria such as flexible work practices, pro-family employee leave schemes, support schemes for mothers, and infrastructural support.

The contest also included an SG50 Special Award category for companies that have dedicated support schemes for working women, and five companies — Cerebos Pacific Limited, DBS Bank, KK Women’s & Children’s Hospital, Infineon Technologies Asia Pacific and SP Services — received the award.

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