Singapore Upholds Work-Life Harmony for Its Global Talent Pool
Singapore is a global business hub that boasts of established infrastructure, government, easy Singapore company registration process, and effective business policies. It is also dubbed by the World Economic Forum as the most competitive economy in Asia.
This world-class city state has become the ideal choice of many multinational companies, aside from almost 189,000 small and medium enterprises as reported by the Department of Statistics Singapore, as their base location. Singapore is thus world-renowned as business ventures’ jump-off point into other emerging Asian markets.
Singapore’s economy is not the only one doing all the hustle and bustle, but most especially its skilled workforce. One in five employees works for eleven or more hours daily based on an online poll from Regus a few years back. This online global survey conducted by an international business company Regus also showed that 19 per cent of the 95 respondents were working for 11 hours or so every day.
Singapore respondents were mostly comprised of professionals, with almost 20 percent business owners and senior corporate professionals. The result was 9 percent higher than the global average, and also 5 percent more than the score of the second ranking Japan.
In light of this unhealthy work norm, the Ministry of Manpower in Singapore has positioned work-life harmony as a competitive advantage and encouraged locally registered businesses to promote this in their workplace. The Ministry of Manpower has acknowledged the need for employees to spend more time with family in order to lead a higher quality and balanced life. This key area is prioritized in order to increase the productivity and promote well-being among Singaporean workers.
It is also considered an investment for companies as organizations benefit from work-life harmony through talent retention, employee engagement, reduced health-related expenses, and better customer service.
The Ministry of Manpower has ensured that companies registered in Singapore can easily access toolkits and resources for achieving work-life balance. Aptly called as ‘Work-Life Strategies Tool Kit’, this offers clear-cut strategies based on three approaches, which are flexible work arrangements, enhanced leave benefits, and employee support schemes. Flexible work arrangements allow employees to manage both their personal needs and work responsibilities by giving them the option to clock in during their preferred time. Options include staggered start and end time, shift-swapping, employees’ choice of day off, and flexi-shift among others. Enhanced leave benefits allow workers to have special days off such as First Day of School Leave for their children, Study/Exam Leave for those who pursue post-graduate studies, or even Career Break Leave for those who crave leisure. Meanwhile, employee support schemes involve a long list of benefits such as Bring Children to Work Day, Health and Wellness Programme, Fruits Day, Scholarships, and Eldercare Subsidies to name a few. Almost 50% of companies in Singapore provide at least one flexible work arrangement based on Ministry of Manpower’s biennial employment survey last year. It’s also found that 89% of the companies allowed compassionate leaves for their staff, while 71% granted marriage leave. Most of the leaves given were related to parental care, childcare, and studies.
Aside from crafting the three-pronged Work-Life Strategies Tool Kit from Employer Alliance, the Singapore government also provides funding schemes for companies to implement policies. WorkPro, or the Work-Life Grant for Flexible Work Arrangements (FWA) offers two options of financial support. The Developmental Grant is given to companies to cover part of the costs in piloting projects related to FWA. This can cover up to SGD 40,000 per organization. Another funding option is called FWA Incentive where a company can avail up to a maximum of SGD 120,000 to enhance existing schemes and increase the number of employees that benefit from FWA.
Beyond the strategy plans and project funding, Singapore’s commitment to work-life harmony extends to the establishment of Smart Work Centres in the city. These are located in residential areas and easily commutable with public transportation. They have been set up last year at Toa Payoh Public Library, Jurong Regional Library, and Geylang East Public Library, offering complete office amenities with work stations, meeting rooms, and a pantry for a nominal monthly rent. These productive spaces present a convenient and flexible work arrangement near the employees’ home.
Singapore is not just a place with the highest ease of doing business, as the World Bank 2015 Report says. It is not surprising that this country is also identified as the number one in Asia on the Mercer 2015 Quality of Living Survey. This top-ranking city-state’s economy doesn’t just support business operations. Most importantly, it takes care of its most valuable asset-the Singaporean workforce.