SINGAPORE: Singaporeans came together on Saturday (Sep 28) as part of the first session of the Citizens’ Panel on Work-Life Harmony to discuss how work-life balance can be improved.
The panel aims to propose recommendations that will better enable Singaporeans to work in a manner that matches their personal goals.
The discussion on Saturday centered around factors affecting work-life harmony in the context of supporting families. Some of the topics raised include workplace culture, HR practices, flexible work arrangements, and balancing career ambitions with family commitments.
Speaking to participants at the session, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, who also assists Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean on population matters, said achieving work-life harmony boils down to the concept of social norms.
"When something has to do with social norms, we know that it is probably going to be far more effective, going to produce better results, if we can galvanise the whole society to act in concert with one another. A joint effort is what produces better results,” she said.
“So the purpose, I think, of the Citizens’ Panel is to enable everyone to bring your perspectives to the table, and to talk about the kind of things that we need to do as citizens, how we each play a part in order to move forward together to achieve better work-life harmony, to create a better Singapore for ourselves and also for the future generation of Singaporeans.”
Participants included a mix of employers, working parents, singles and retirees to provide a variety of viewpoints on how to design solutions to help Singaporeans have better work-life balance.
The 58 members were chosen from more than 300 members of the public who responded to the call in July to be part of the panel.
Among them was working mother Kopal Agarwal, who works in the finance sector and has an 11-year-old daughter.
She said that she hopes the constant daily choices she has to make between work and family will eventually become a thing of the past.
“I am hoping to get some ideas and some ways to drive those mindset change in the crowd and make it something not as a privilege,” she added.
“Right now I have work and I have life, and I try to integrate.”
Mr Ng Aik Phong, managing director of Fave, said it was about finding solutions that work for both employers and employees.
“So hopefully, I think, we can as the outcome of this, create solutions that works for us, and that is unique, that will solve the problems that we have, and be hopefully a benchmark or lighthouse for our future generations and for every other country,” he added.
About 20 per cent of Fave’s 60 employees in the Singapore office are married with children, he explained, and many of his younger employees will eventually reach an age when they will want to settle down and start families.
First announced by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat in June, the panel will meet for more sessions between September and November to propose new ways to strengthen work-life harmony in Singapore.
The Citizens’ Panel is part of the SG Together movement for the Government to partner Singaporeans to create and deliver solutions across a wide range of policy areas.
The panel will submit their recommendations at the last session on Nov 9.