Nonetheless, more can be done to boost the work-life culture in the workplace.
Singapore, 6 December 2012 – The state of work-life harmony in Singapore has remained stable over the past six years, according to the National Work-Life Harmony Study conducted by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF). A follow-up from the inaugural study in 2006, this study involved 1,650 respondents, and was conducted in partnership with the School of Family Life of Brigham Young University in the United States. (Please see Annex A for the research team.)
Singapore’s work-life harmony score for 2012 is 63, with 0 indicating “no harmony” and 100 indicating “total harmony”. This is similar to the score of 64 in 2006. The index was developed in 2006 as one of the measures to track the progress of work-life harmony in Singapore over time. (Please see Annex B for more information about the work-life harmony index.)
Well-balanced Individuals are More Effective at Work and at Home
Respondents who scored high on the Work-Life Harmony Index continued to report better work, family and personal outcomes. At the workplace, they are likely to be more engaged and productive. For instance, 94% of those with high work-life harmony agreed that they are engaged at work, compared to only 71% of those with low work-life harmony. At the personal level, they feel more satisfied and enjoy greater peace in their lives, as well as have better physical and mental health. On the family front, they have higher family and marital satisfaction and enjoy better relationships with their children, family and friends. Notably, people with high work-life harmony scores want more children (2.05) than those with low scores (1.93) (See Annex C for more details.)
The study also reveals that respondents with children, and those who eat frequently with the family, enjoy better work-life harmony. Those who are married with children score higher on the Work-Life Index compared to those without children. Dr Jeff Hill from Brigham Young University, the lead consultant for the study, said, “While conversations on having children in Singapore often revolve around the concerns and burdens parents face, the study results suggest that the emotional rewards from having children outweigh cost-benefit considerations.” On the finding that respondents who have more family meals enjoy better work-life harmony, Dr Hill added, “Some international study has shown that employees will enjoy greater work, personal and family satisfaction when they can use workplace flexibility to maintain regular family mealtime, even in the face of long work hours.”
Building a More Supportive Work-life Culture
The study also shows that there is increasing availability of flexibility measures at the workplace, such as flexible working hours (from 14% in 2006 to 23% in 2012) and telecommuting (from 8% to 12%). However, while the workplace has become more supportive of employees’ work-life needs, more could be done to encourage such measures. Currently, the proportion which reported the use of flexible working hours and telecommuting is 15% (12% in 2006) and 7% (4% in 2006) respectively.
Madam Halimah Yacob, Minister of State for Social and Family Development (MSF), said, “The findings show that work-life harmony has many positive outcomes for individuals and businesses. Work-life harmony is not about working less. It is about people having the flexibility to integrate their work, family and personal life to achieve the best outcomes in these areas. It is about people exercising control and choices. I urge employers to foster a supportive work environment for employees to fulfill both their work and family aspirations. This is a win-win situation for both individuals and businesses. MSF will collaborate with the public, private and people sectors to reinforce the importance of spending time with family. Whether it is bonding over meals or other regular family activities, such small steps can make a significant impact on your personal and family well-being.”
(Please see Annexes D and E for information on work-life initiatives by the Tripartite Committee on Work Life Strategy and personal work life effectiveness initiatives by the Ministry of Social and Family Development.)