SINGAPORE – The issue of bosses sending text messages or e-mails to employees late at night came up during a group discussion on improving work-life balance.
Now, a project group looking into this “always on” culture – where employees are expected to be contactable 24/7 – is aiming to change it.
Between March and September this year, five project groups were formed under the Alliance for Action for Work-Life Harmony to develop resources to support and promote work-life harmony in Singapore. They shared their ideas at a virtual showcase on Friday (Sept 24).
One of the groups developed a template on how companies can establish an after-hours work communication policy and set clearer expectations and boundaries on work-related communication after working hours.
The group worked closely with the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), senior management representatives and human resource professionals.
Mr Daniel Chia, head of human resources at Samsung Electronics, a member of the project group that developed the template, said the template is “not a one-size-fits-all”, but it serves as a reference point to help companies kick-start their work-life harmony efforts.
For example, if an employee’s nature of work requires him to be contactable, the company could implement a work roster so that it is not always the same person who needs to be contacted every day, said Mr Chia.
On the issue of after-hours messages, he said: “(The bosses) said they are afraid that they will forget to communicate this so they send a message… they do not expect anyone to reply. But when you don’t have a clear policy, that’s where confusion will arise.
“Until we have a clear policy, this ‘always on’ culture will always be there.”
Mr Chia said the template will be made available on SNEF’s website by next week. The federation will also share it with its members and organise workshops to guide companies to use it.
Other tools will also be made available to employers to help them improve work-life balance for the employees.
These include a survey to assess employees’ work-life needs and a guide on implementing work-life practices – all of which will largely be made available online to employers by the end of this year (2021).
These are developed by the Alliance for Action for Work-Life Harmony.
The alliance of more than 140 people, which was launched in February this year, is a partnership that brings together people, the private sector and public agencies.
One of its key aims is to improve awareness of the importance of work-life harmony and best work-life practices. It also aims to help workplaces and the wider community sustain and enhance such practices.
Another idea showcased on Friday is a survey to review employees’ state of work-life harmony. The survey measures employees’ awareness, work-life practices, satisfaction and needs pertaining to work-life harmony.
Participating companies will receive an individual company report on key trends and findings, which can help them provide the work-life support their employees need.
EngageRocket, which specialises in advanced people analytics, will host the survey on its website from November this year.
Another group came up with a self-assessment tool that allows employers to review and improve their work-life practices. It will suggest a wide range of work-life practices for companies to consider adopting.
It is planned for launch in November this year.
Manpower Minister Tan See Leng, who attended the showcase, said the tools will “undoubtedly help many employers make meaningful changes at their workplaces, and drive home the importance of improving work-life harmony”.
“Work-life harmony is a shared responsibility. Employers, employees and society play a collective role in shaping mindsets and implementing progressive work-life practices,” Dr Tan added.
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