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What 'work-life harmony' really means to Singaporeans

Look around you and ask someone what work-life balance means to them, and they’ll think about achieving balance between their work and life responsibilities. In line with that, in the August edition of Human Resources (Singapore), we explored a newer concept - work-life harmony, with a special feature  on what integrating work and life really means. 

In this article, we hear from the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) on exactly how the work-life landscape has evolved in Singapore over the past five years.

Evolution of the work-life landscape in Singapore

The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP), in collaboration with The Straits Times, conducted a survey on work-life harmony and flexible work arrangements (FWAs). The survey results, released in June, captured the responses of 511 employers and 1,000 employees.

This survey, which was first conducted in 2014, aimed to understand the current state of work-life harmony in Singapore, the challenges of implementation, and to gain insights of views and concerns of both employers and employees.

What has changed in the past five years?

An ageing and shrinking population is having an impact on the workforce.
Juggling work responsibilities while managing caregiving duties of both children and ageing parents can take a toll on the ‘sandwiched’ generation in the workforce.
Many of them rely on external resources for support such as childcare centres for their children, or senior centres for their parents, due to fewer or no siblings to share the responsibilities with.

Meanwhile, extended families have also shrunk, further straining alternative caregiving resources.

The multiple responsibilities, as an employee, parent and child, will also intensify time stress and possibly increase mental, emotional and financial pressures as well. All these can lead to burnout if not managed properly.

These factors point towards a much greater need for work-life harmony among employees today. As all employees juggle multiple roles, their needs cut across different age groups, genders and life and career stages.

Note: Work-life harmony is defined as a state in which an individual is able to achieve both personal and professional goals in a combination that is uniquely satisfactory. This differs across individuals as different people have different needs, responsibilities, values and priorities. 

What are the key findings from the survey?

Shift 1: Work-life programmes are being implemented more strategically and formally, resulting in greater alignment between employers and employees.

Employers are increasingly recognising the value of work-life programmes in managing manpower needs – 82% agreed they enhanced their company image and 80% agreed they were important in attracting and recruiting top talent, up from 68% and 74% respectively in 2014.

The survey also showed a shift towards formal channels in communicating available work-life programmes to the organisation, suggesting that policies and practices are becoming more structured and formalised.


Lead photo / iStockInfographics / TAFEP

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