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Employers in Singapore more conscious of enabling work-life harmony

In recent years, a shift in mindset and perception has been driven by factors including further calls to increase fertility rate, ageing population and workforce, as well as the growing pressure on caregivers who have to juggle more complex work and life responsibilities.

In line with those changes, employers are increasingly recognising the value of work-life programmes in maintaining manpower needs.

A new survey by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP), in partnership with the Straits Times, revealed that more employers have agreed that work-life programmes enhances company branding/image (82% in 2018, up from 68% in 2014).

At the same time, 80% (up from 74% in 2014) agreed that it enables them to attract and recruit top talent.

The survey also pointed towards four key aspects that have changed from 2014 to 2018.

Employers and employees are increasingly aligned 

  • The bulk of employers (83%) believed staff should have the flexibility to manage their time and schedule as long as they can meet work targets.
  • Just as many employees (82%) believed their supervisor provided them the flexibility to manage heir own time and schedule as long as work targets and deadlines were met.
  • More employers were found to be supportive of work-life arrangements (89% in 2018 vs. 86% in 2014).
  • More employees agreed that their supervisors were open towards flexible work arrangements (FWAs when required (up from 69% in 2014 to 75% in 2018).
This increase in alignment may be partially due to the growing role of employers communicating the available work-life programmes (76% in 2018, up from 73% in 2014).

An increase in employees being informed about the available programmes and policies through various official channels have been found. This includes staff meetings/briefings (37%, up from 27% in 2014) and email/intranet/website (35%, up from 25% in 2014).

At the same time, the word-of-mouth spread of information has gone down to 59% in 2018 - down from 71% in 2014.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this increase in openness towards work-life programmes was found to be driven by the direction of senior management (54% in 2018, up from 20% in 2014) - even more so than demand or feedback from employees (41% in 2018, up from 20% in 2014).

Middle managers are stepping up as facilitators 

  • More middle managers felt responsible (72% in 2018, up from 66% in 2014) in ensuring that their employees achieve work-life harmony.
  • Communication of work-life programmes through direct managers increased from 0% in 2014 to 22% in 2018.
  • 81% of middle managers felt that their personal views towards work-life harmony were aligned with the company’s communicated policy, as compared to 68% in 2014.

Working fathers with young children also value FWAs

  • 34% of working fathers with young children used flexi-time/staggered start and end time in 2018 (up from 15% in 2014) and 26% used telework in 2018 (up from 15% in 2014).
  • Working fathers also had stronger views towards working for a company that supports them in managing work and family commitments (97% for fathers vs. 92% for mothers).
  • 96% of both working fathers and mothers with young children shared that their personal well-being (such as stress, health) would be better if they could manage their work and personal life more effectively.
  • 95% of working fathers (vs. 94% for mothers) with young children shared that they would be more productive in their work if the company provided them the flexibility to manage work and family commitments.
  • A significantly higher percentage of working fathers with young children would consider leaving a company if there was a lack of work-life programmes (63% in 2018, up from 50% in 2014).

Firms are tapping more on FWAs to manage employee work-life needs sustainably

Across organisations, there was a shift towards greater provision of FWAs, including:
  • Part-time work: 52% in 2014 to 58% in 2018
  • Flexi-time/staggered start and end time: 55% in 2014 to 57% in 2018
  • Telecommuting: 40% in 2014 to 46% in 2018
At the same time, provision of leave schemes has decreased:
  • Emergency leave: 95% in 2014 to 85% in 2018
  • Time-off on short notice for personal/family matter: 95% in 2014 to 82% in 2018
  • Family care leave: 60% in 2014 to 55% in 2018
  • Study/exam leave: 60% in 2014 to 42% in 2018
Similarly, employee utilisation rates of FWAs have increased while leave benefits were less utilised:
  • Flexi-time/staggered start and end time (26% in 2018, up from 14% in 2014)
  • Flexible hours (20% in 2018, up from 15% in 2014)
  • Telework (14% in 2018, up from 9% in 2014)
  • Emergency leave (36% in 2018, down from 62% in 2014)

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