SINGAPORE: A tripartite advisory was issued on Tuesday (Nov 17) to provide guidance and resources on mental wellness to Singapore’s workforce.
The Tripartite Advisory on Mental Well-being at Workplaces was developed by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) in consultation with HR practitioners and social agency partners.
“There has been increasing attention on workers’ mental well-being and growing recognition that a negative work environment can impact workers’ mental health,” the tripartite partners said in a media release.
“Conversely, workplaces that promote workers’ mental well-being are more likely to observe increased productivity and reduced absenteeism.”
Manpower Minister Josephine Teo introduced the advisory in her opening address at the Singapore Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Conference, describing how “protecting workers’ mental health has become even more important” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The tripartite advisory sets out practical guidance on measures that employers can adopt to take care of their employees’ mental well-being, and the resources employers and self-employed persons can tap,” she said.
Mrs Teo summarised the four key aspects of the advisory for employers.
“First, appoint and train mental wellness champions to organise programmes, talks and workshops on mental wellness,” she said.
“Second, provide training on self-care and equip managers and human resource personnel with skills to be supportive leaders.
“Third, extend employee flexible benefits to cover mental health related consultations and treatments or provide employees access to employee assistance programmes.
“Fourth, recognise the need for employees to have adequate rest outside work hours.”
In addition to providing resources and helplines that employees and self-employed persons can utilise to safeguard their own mental well-being, the advisory also offers health tips for work-from-home arrangements.
BENEFITS FOR EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYEES
Mr John Ng, SNEF vice president and chairman of the Workplace Safety and Health Council, said that both employers and employees will gain from the adoption of the advisory’s recommendations.
“The mental well-being of employees may affect their work, safety and health. The Tripartite Advisory will help employers to take proactive steps to take care of their employees’ mental well-being so that they are able to stay focused at work, work safely and stay healthy,” he said.
“In turn, employers will benefit from a healthy and productive workforce which can contribute to better business performance.”
Mr Gary Khoo, director of preventive health programmes at the Health Promotion Board, said that awareness of mental well-being at a workplace has a positive impact on its working environment, and will boost employees’ abilities to respond to challenges.
“By implementing mental wellness programmes at workplaces, employees can be equipped with coping skills to manage challenges faced at work,” he said.
“Employers can also train leaders at the workplace to identify and support staff who may have mental health and well-being concerns. This will create a supportive workplace environment for better engagement of employees.”
IMPACT OF COVID-19
The advisory comes against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has produced an array of challenges that can impact the mental wellness of workers.
“The recent COVID-19 outbreak has led many workplaces to adopt work-from-home arrangements as the norm,” the tripartite partners said. “This has blurred the lines between work and home, leading to employees feeling more stressed and facing a higher risk of burnout.”
Mr Melvin Yong, assistant secretary-general of NTUC said that the advisory “will help to reassure workers that safeguards are in place to support their mental well-being”.
“In this prolonged period of telecommuting work arrangements, I understand that many workers are facing greater mental stress from juggling work and personal commitments while having to adapt to the COVID guidelines and restrictions," he said.
“The guidelines, particularly the part on establishing a work-life harmony policy for employees to rest and recharge after work, will benefit many workers especially those suffering and those who are at risk from workplace burnout.
“The Labour Movement is also committed to work with our unionised companies to adopt the recommendations and partner our employers and the Government to strengthen mental health-related support at the workplaces.”