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Singapore – Employers urged to adopt flexible work arrangements

20 May 2013

Hundreds of thousands of Singaporeans could re-enter the workforce and ease the nation's manpower shortage if more companies adopted flexible work arrangements, the Employer Alliance (EA) said today.

In Singapore, there are more than 418,000 economically inactive residents, mainly women who want to find work during the next two years, but are unable to work full-time because of family commitments.

Flexible work arrangements, such as working from home and part-time work, could attract people back to work and increase the capacity of Singapore's workforce, the EA said.

It urged that traditional office based jobs from in many companies will need to change if more flexible work opportunities are to be created. Singaporeans work some of the longest hours in the world with many clocking up to 11 hours at work a day.

According to research by the EA, employers are still focused on 'face-time' – the time an employee physically spends at their place of work – which the EA perceives as a barrier to flexible work arrangements. Employees who do not put in the expected ‘face-time’ are often regarded as less committed to the company and seen as contributing less. But with more employees asking for flexible work arrangements, employers will be forced to change.

 “In this difficult time of labour shortage, it is a waste of talent not to give Singaporeans who want to work the opportunity to do so. This means rethinking the way we want to work and how we integrate life needs and work expectations,” said Ms Claire Chiang, Chairperson of EA.

“A review on work models and job functions is required where flexible and part-time work arrangements are seen as professional work options. Such part-time and flexible work arrangements help to expand a company’s capacity and capabilities. Greater use of flexible work arrangements leveraging technology will allow companies to tap a much larger pool of employees otherwise unavailable, including a large number of women and older workers with high skill levels.”

The EA argues that flexible work arrangements can improve talent attraction and retention, increase productivity and help to save costs.

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