Singapore is falling short of expectations when it comes to employer support for family-friendly work practices. According to a recent Hays online survey, almost three-quarters of Singaporean employees say their employers provide inadequate family-friendly work arrangements.

In its survey of 378 people, recruitment specialist Hays reports that 36 per cent said their workplace is not supportive of family-friendly work practices and a further 36 per cent feel there is some support but not enough. Only 28 per cent said their companies have adequate family-friendly practices.

Although Singapore has a high workforce participation rate for women and one of the highest literacy rates for women in Asia, these results suggest that more can be done to enable the primary caregiver to remain in employment.

But it is not just working women who need access to flexible working arrangements. The survey results also highlight that little is done to encourage supporting partners to take a greater role in parenting responsibilities.

Companies can support both parents through such measures as paid and unpaid parental leave, personal leave to care for sick or injured children and offering “keeping in touch days” during parental leave.

Benefits for employers

The good news for employers is that the benefits of work and family flexibilities can be achieved in all workplaces, regardless of the size of the business.

Such benefits include reducing absenteeism, increasing productivity, retaining skilled staff and reducing training costs, reducing staff turnover, attracting new employees, being recognised as an employer of choice and increasing morale and job satisfaction.

It may come as a surprise to some, but companies that support employees as they start or grow their families are more likely to hold onto skilled and dedicated staff.

And the evidence strongly suggests that retaining a positive and motivated workforce is vital to an organisation’s success. This is especially true in a global job market that is characterised by increasingly acute skills shortages.

In addition, any business owner will tell you that losing valuable employees can prove costly as it can increase expenses and have a negative effect on company morale.

Providing family-friendly work practices has one other key advantage: it often helps an employer become known as an employer of choice, which can help differentiate a company in the marketplace and help attract the best candidates.

Communication needed

Finding the right balance between work and family takes open and honest communication from both sides, so employees can manage both family and lifestyle commitments, and the employer’s needs are still met.

With the Government’s increasing focus on hiring local candidates, family-friendly work practices also help more people, predominantly women, remain in paid employment after they have children. This means participation in the workforce would rise — and there would be potentially more Singaporeans taking local jobs.

How Singaporean men and women split work and family responsibilities continues to be a challenging issue. However, if more men were to embrace flexible working arrangements such as working part-time, seeking job shares or work-from-home options and increasing their care-giving responsibilities, gender inequality in the workforce could be reduced.

 

Article by Chris Mead, regional director of Hays in Singapore. Hays is a leading recruiting expert in qualified, professional and skilled people. For more information, visit www.hays.com.sg