The book “Work! Live! Play! The Scandinavian and Singaporean Experiences on Enhancing Productivity with Work-Life Innovations” was recently published in Singapore by NTUC Women’s Development Secretariat.
The publication is a result of the seminar “Achieving Balance between Career and Family – The Scandinavia and Singapore Experience” which was held in April this year to discuss and share various pro-family infrastructure and flexible work arrangements. The seminar, jointly organised by the Scandinavian Embassies in Singapore and NTUC Women’s Development Secretariat, was attended by 400 participants from different sectors.
Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s mention of drawing lessons on work-life integration from Scandinavian models in 2008 helped give a greater focus on work-life integration in Singapore. The Scandinavian countries – Norway, Sweden and Denmark – have a long tradition of comprehensive social policies directed towards the family. This inspired the NTUC Women’s Development Secretariat to create a platform for the tripartite partners in Singapore enabling them to learn from the experiences of the Scandinavian countries on work-life practices and how they are balancing career and family.
In addition to providing insight on policies and experiences of these countries, the book gives the reader the opportunity to learn about Singaporean companies that have adopted family-friendly practices which encourage women to stay within the workforce. The female labour force participation rate in Singapore is at 56 per cent compared to 80 per cent in Norway. The importance given to work-life harmony in the Scandinavian countries have arguably contributed to significantly higher birthrates. The Norwegian fertility rate is 1,9 per women compared to 1,29 in Singapore.
The aim of the publication is to encourage more employers in Singapore to focus more on work-life practices and find new ways to develop a more family friendly work environment. Women, who are increasingly pursuing professional careers, refrain from having children because of inflexible systems. On the other hand, mothers refrain from pursuing a career with losses to the economy and society.
Arni Hole, Director General from the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Children and Equality states: “A modern nation cannot afford to lose out on demography or under-consuming educated workforce due to gender bias or by not making use of talented women in top management”.
NTUC Deputy Secretary-General Halimah Yacob comments at the start of the book: “The separation between home and work is often an artificial one. What happens at work impacts on our home life and similarly, what happens at home affects performance at work”.