Cost-cutting may be the buzzword among companies these days. But the labour movement said companies should pay more attention to policies that promote work-life balance rather than scale back on them. The seminar brought together officials from Denmark, Norway and Sweden, as well as private and public sector representatives from Singapore.
Recent surveys found that more companies in Singapore are implementing flexible work arrangements to encourage women to enter and stay on in the workforce. As a result, many of these companies are seeing higher productivity and staff morale.
Scandinavian countries have long recognised the economic benefits of family-friendly measures. For example, Denmark estimates that 40 per cent of economic growth between 1970 and 1990 is a result of bringing women back into the workforce.
In Singapore, a raft of family-friendly policies have been introduced over the years, but the National Trades Union Congress said it still has a long way to go. It added that in the current recession, work-life policies have become all the more necessary.
Halimah Yacob, Deputy secretary-general, NTUC, said: “For companies in the downturn, it’s all the more reason that they must pay close scrutiny to issues concerning work-life balance because I think during a downturn, people are a lot more stressed.
“And that stress which they then bring back from the workplace to the home, that stress will not only affect the home life but will also affect productivity at the workplace.”