Singapore HR: It’s time to fully embrace flexible working

by Hannah Norton06 Jul 2015
The government is to launch a ‘work-life resource portal’ next year to help Singapore HR leaders implement flexible work arrangements.

Senior Minister of State for Manpower and Health Amy Khor announced the plans at a regional conference organised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Bureau for Employers' Activities and the Singapore National Employers Federation on Friday.
Speaking at the event, she urged both the public and private sectors "better support women in their climb up the corporate ladder".

Ways of doing this included promoting an environment in which it is easier for men and women to juggle career and family commitments and adopting HR policies that give women fair consideration for jobs at all levels, she said.
"Prioritising the development of female leaders is not about striving to appear fair and equal," she said.

“It is not merely a female issue, nor should it be seen as affirmative action for women. Rather, it is about expanding and optimising the limited talent pool in any organisation."

Her comments come only months after Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace said many feel Singaporean women they have to make difficult choices between family and work.

She said while fathers are starting to take on more responsibility at home, employers also need to recognise that progressive work practices such as flexible work arrangements make good business sense.

Singapore HR professionals know the gender discussion is nothing new when it comes to talk about the corporate ladder.

The figures have long spoken for themselves. 

In fact, the most recent study by Deloitte Global found women take up 9% of board positions in Singapore – compared to a figure of 12% on a global scale.

And it’s not just representation.

Speaking at the event last Friday, Bureau of Employers' Activities director Deborah France-Massin presented an ILO report which showed that a gender pay gap still exists in Singapore, with women earning 11% less than men on average.

"Companies should look at policies on training in the workplace to allow women to acquire a general grounding in management which will allow them to climb the corporate ladder if that's what they want," France-Massin told media.

The pros of flexible working arrangements

According to MOM, work-life strategies such as flexible working arrangements can benefit employers in several ways:
  • Higher productivity and shareholder value
  • Improved employee engagement and satisfaction
  • Improved attraction and retention of talent
  • Reduced health-related costs (e.g. absenteeism, medical leave)
  • Improved customer experience

Also, employers may be able to get funding from the Work-Life Grant under the WorkPro programme to implement work-life strategies. There is the Developmental Grant (up to $40,000), which helps employers put in place flexible working arrangements and other work-life programmes, and the FWA Incentive (up to $120,000), which motivates employers to support more employees on flexible working arrangements.

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