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Singapore

After-hours work communication policy guide among new initiatives for work-life harmony

SINGAPORE: A policy template to help firms set clearer boundaries for after-hours work communication was among the resources that were launched on Friday (Sep 24) by a group aiming to improve work-life harmony in Singapore.

Set up in February this year, the industry-led coalition – known as an Alliance for Action – involved stakeholders such as employers, employees and Human Resources (HR) practitioners.

Several other alliances, convened by the Emerging Stronger Taskforce (EST), have been launched since last year to tackle various socio-economic issues resulting from COVID-19.

One such concern was about the rise in remote working and a subsequent blurring of work and life.

CLEARER BOUNDARIES ON AFTER-HOURS COMMUNICATION

To address this, the two-page template will help firms establish policies that set clearer boundaries on after-hours work communication.

For instance, it acknowledges that certain business-critical or time-sensitive situations will require such communication – but there should be a clear list of designated points of contact.

There could also be rostered schedules for this, said Mr Daniel Chia, HR Head at Samsung Electronics, who was part of the team that came up with the resource.

“(This would make it such) that it’s not always the one person that needs to be contactable, always on 24/7. So that everyone has the chance to take a well-deserved break and basically move away from work and have some of that personal time.”

If after-hours communication is needed, one should also clearly state the issue, the required action and the desired outcome, according to the template.

This would help avoid any confusion, said Mr Chia, raising an example of how a superior may sometimes send a message late at night with no expectations of a response.

The Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) will be organising workshops to guide firms on using this template from the last quarter of the year.

Speaking at a showcase of the resources, SNEF president Robert Yap said having such a policy would demonstrate employers’ commitments to work-life harmony.

“It also reminds them that while they are responsible to deliver their work in a timely manner, they also have a duty to respect other co-workers’ established working hours.”

Other resources developed by the Alliance for Action on Work-Life Harmony include surveys on employees’ levels of work-life harmony, and assessment tools for firms to review their own practices.

There will also be policy implementation guides tailored to various groups, such as senior management.

Separately, guidebooks have also been developed for implementing work-life harmony practices in three specific sectors: Food services, finance and manufacturing.

FUTURE PLANS

Moving forward, tripartite partners said they will promote these resources through engagements, workshops and training sessions, with publicity efforts set to start from the last quarter of 2021.

They added that they will “increase efforts to equip and train” work-life ambassadors and advocates through “regular sharing of work-life content” and engagements.

Speaking at the showcase, Manpower Minister Tan See Leng called work-life harmony a “shared responsibility”.

“Employers, employees and society play a collective role in shaping mindsets and implementing progressive work-life practices. … And there's no one-size-fits-all solution.

“Achieving the right balance is not easy, but it is possible to improve work life harmony for our workers, if we all work collectively together.”

Source: CNA

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