The world of work is changing rapidly, and with it the expectations and demands we are placing on our labour market. As businesses emerge from the cloud of COVID-19, the relationship between work, time and place has been altered significantly. In order to succeed in the current economy, organisations are increasingly realising the need to find new ways to humanise the labour market and make it more efficient and responsive to the needs of worker. At a time when the lines are blurred between work and rest, it is more important than ever to create an environment where employees feel valued and appreciated. By understanding the changes that are happening in society and acting on them, we can create a more sustainable future for employees and businesses alike. Through this article, the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) Sustainable Employment team identifies ways businesses can help foster a better relationship between work and people such as fair and progressive employment practices in Singapore, along with discussing the benefits this can bring. 

Establish A Culture Of Work-Life Harmony For Employees

To address the root issue of the blurring of lines between work and rest, all the stakeholders in businesses first need to be agreeable to implement shared practices of rest. But these practices have to come within the wider introduction of a culture of promoting work-life harmony for employees. In order to demonstrate your business’ commitment to doing so, it is key to set clear boundaries between work and rest. Although technology enables employees to keep abreast on work, it can become difficult to leave work at the office, especially more so with telecommunicating. In an era of easy accesibility, it can be pressurising to always check for work updates. Thus, it is vital for businesses to encourage employees to leave work at the office and ensure they have adequate rest in the evenings. Practically, the company’s management could lead by example by indicating ‘responsive’ hours and establish boundaries around times when emails should not be sent. 

Some other fair employment practices that employers could look into include educating employees about work-life harmony through related seminars and tools to help them understand if they are reaching burnout, setting up channels for workers to communicate about burnout, regular review into employees’ individual work allocation and stress levels.

Supporting A Culture Of Flexibility Through Flexwork & Telecommuting

With the shadow of the pandemic continuing to hover over the labour market, identifying a strategy to set employees up for success at work and keep current talent has emerged as a serious challenge for organisations. However, telecommuting and flexible hours is an option that all employers should consider to ensure fair and progressive employment practices in Singapore. The  Society For Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that workplaces that offered work flexibility have observed a positive effect on work performance, stress levels, and work-life harmony. 

Providing employees with the option to have flexible working hours and telecommuting is one important strategy to encourage work flexibility. Companies have different ways to execute this such as providing weekly requirements for work hours but allowing employees to have the flexibility to choose the hours they commit to work or where they work from each day as long as they complete the required total. Alternatively, businesses can focus on emphasising the result instead of the number of hours spent at work for the employees.

Naturally, companies will have to adapt their work performance metrics accordingly for telecommuting and flexwork employees. This can be done through independently set targets, ensuring employees are accountable in tracking time, planning and scheduling, and scheduling weekly reviews. 

Create A Culture Of Employee Empowerment

A simple method to assure employees that the company is committed to fair and progressive employment practices is to have employee representatives to help monitor employee well-being and share concerns to management about the condition of the staff. This empowers employees to have a voice to raise matters that they may not normally be comfortable discussing and enables them to facilitate change in the workplace. 

Employers can further empower workers in achieving work life harmony by giving them access to suitable technology to assist them in their daily tasks. When companies are willing to invest in appropriate technology tools that streamline or automate tasks, this boosts employee productivity. Collaborative tools such as communication applications can also help staff feel less overwhelmed and facilitate discussion across the organisation, which can result in a higher quality of work.

Make A Pledge To Fair And Progressive Employment Practices

In the rapidly changing world of work, there are opportunities for businesses to embrace change in the new reality and adapt to the new demands of the labour market through the implementation of  fair and progressive employment practices in Singapore.

The SBF Sustainable Employment (SE) initiative calls on the Singapore business community to take purposeful action to improve their SE practices in anticipation of emergent trends and future developments. Singapore Business Federation launched this initiative with a report that highlights key recommendations and potential opportunities for businesses to take on to achieve long-term business success and foster a vibrant economy and inclusive society. 

Make the pledge to join others in this journey.