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"Flexible working arrangements have to go beyond the pandemic": Minister Indranee Rajah on the future of work

"Flexible working arrangements have to go beyond the pandemic": Minister Indranee Rajah on the future of work

"It is going to be critical for companies to find ways to become flexible, modular, and nimble," said Indranee Rajah, Minister, Prime Minister's Office, Singapore.

Indranee Rajah, Minister, Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister for Finance, and Second Minister for National Development, urged employers in Singapore to rethink the fundamentals of how and where to get work done in a post-pandemic world. 

Speaking to Daniel Leung FCCA, Country Manager – Singapore, ACCA, on the future of work, she shared: "The world is changing fast, accountants have to keep up with these changes - which includes not just those on the technical side (sustainable reporting and other areas of new growth), but also in the way that accountants and leaders run their companies.

"We have seen how the world has discovered flexible working arrangements (FWAs), but they have to go beyond the pandemic. It is going to be critical for companies to find ways to become flexible, modular, and nimble. People don't expect to go back to the office for a large amount of time in the day, without having some (form of) flexibility."

She said this at the ACCA Annual Virtual Conference 2022, titled The Future of Work for Accountants, centred on the themes of sustainability, technology, and work redesign, and attended by Human Resources Online

Minister Indranee went on to address the impact of recent workforce trends: "The Great Resignation is a reflection of people rethinking the fundamentals.

"The firms that want to attract and keep such employees need to reexamine their practices as well as work approaches, and flexible working will be the way to go. In Singapore, we're playing a great deal of attention to that - all the things that employees take into account while deciding whether or not to stick at the job."

Her key message to employers? "Look at growth areas as well as upskilling, but don't forget to note what employees in the post-pandemic world really want."

In addition to her take on the future of work, the Minister also encouraged employers to study the ongoing series of Job Transformation Maps (JTM) to navigate the industry changes they're experiencing, as well as redesign jobs & roles accordingly, while referring to the JTMs for In-house Finance & Accounting (F&A) functions and Accounting Practices.

Noting that Singapore's industry has identified sustainability as a growth area, the imperative now is to ensure that the workforce has the skills to deal with this and provide the services that are needed.

"The JTMs are very important in this strategy as they set out the key trends driving changes in this sector and lay out the pathways for employers to transform jobs. We found (in finance & accounting) that a majority of roles require minimal job redesign and are unlikely to be displaced, because they already involve value-adding tasks. So the good news is you already have a good base.

"For roles which require significant reskilling, we have to invest in training to acquire new skills." Minister Indranee took reference to the Job Redesign Toolkit created for this sector which can help employers on redesigning jobs to ensure they are current and efficient.

The future of the accountancy sector 

As part of the fireside chat, Minister Indranee, who has previously co-chaired the Working Group on Legal and Accounting Services, the recommendations of which were aimed at transforming the legal and accounting industries in Singapore, shared trends for the accountancy sector in Singapore to note. 

Sustainability was a key area of concern highlighted not just for the profession but for the nation as a whole. "That's a big task to save the world - but accountants are in a good position to do quite a lot," she remarked, sharing two key areas of priorities:

  • Accelerating the adoption of sustainability practices,
  • Ensuring quality in sustainability reporting.

Elaborating on these, noting that the traditional role of accounts has been to focus on corporate reporting, she said sustainability has since become the single biggest focus in the world post-pandemic, a phenomenon that cuts across sectors.

"First, be familiar with the company's finances. Assess how environmental considerations and risks can affect your company performance. investors and clients are going to judge you by these practices.

"Second, help business leaders to identify ways to pivot their business models while taking into account risk factors. Apply the rigour you have in financial reporting to sustainability reporting. Business leaders will rely on accountants to put out credible information on sustainability disclosures."

Photo / Journalist's own

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