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What is Work-Life Balance?


Definition of Work-Life Strategy

Work-life balance is rooted in our need to strike a healthy balance between our desires to participate fully in the labour market while giving the best of ourselves to our loved ones, in essence, between our job and personal responsibilities. The concept of the quality of work-life can be viewed as “the degree to which members of a work organization are able to satisfy important personal needs through their experiences in the organization” (Suttle 1977, p. 4).

The notion of work-life acknowledges the fact that all employees (inclusive of managers) have to balance between their work and own personal lives, regardless whether they have family responsibilities. Aside from family responsibilities, an employee may require some personal time for other matters such as socializing and studies. Hence, a fundamental problem facing growing numbers of individuals is how to balance their growing work and non-work demands.

What is Work-Life Strategy Important?

The new age workforce comprises mostly of knowledge workers, who are techno-savvy, aware of market realities, are materially focused and have a higher propensity to switch jobs (Edris 2004). In Singapore and in many parts of the world, the increasing emphasis on knowledge-based competitiveness in the current turbulent environment also accelerated the importance of human capital (Wan, Kok & Ong 2002). Under a knowledge-based economy, the attraction and retention of a mobile and educated workforce is fast becoming a challenge to many employers.

In addition, Singapore’s changing demographics such as the rise in dual income families (Aryee 1993) and other social and economic trends such as an increase in female workforce participation rate (Yun 2004), an ageing population (Lim 2003) (i.e. which lead to an ageing workforce) and falling birth rates (Yuen 1995) are the main impetus behind this drive for the Government to encourage companies in Singapore to introduce work-life programmes within their workplace.

Work-life strategy in Singapore is still in its nascent stage despite the fact that the Government has been actively promoting it over the past few years. One of the main factors behind this drive lies with the fact that as Singapore develop into a knowledge-based economy, the notion that people are the organization’s primary asset will be further entrenched. Under a knowledge-based economy, the attraction and retention of a mobile and educated workforce is fast becoming a challenge to many employers. In short, the focus on a competitive, fast-paced global economy has forced profound changes in how we define work and the workforce.

Singapore’s changing demographics such as the rise in dual income families and other social and economic trends such as an increase in female workforce participation rate, longer working hours, an ageing population (i.e. which lead to an ageing workforce) and falling birth rates are the main impetus behind this drive for the Government to encourage companies in Singapore to introduce work-life programmes within their workplace.

Types of Work-Life Programmes, Policies and Practices

Work-life programmes are initiatives adopted by organizations to help employees manage their work and personal life (Lobel 1999). Such programmes encompass a variety of practices that aid workers in balancing the demands of work and personal life (Lobel & Kossek 1996). Many of these practices are aimed in particular at helping workers to deal with family obligations (Konrad & Mangel 2000). In general, work-life programmes, policies and practices can be differentiated into the following categories:

Employee Support Schemes
  • Time-Saving Services/Facilities
  • Social Activities for Singles
  • On-Site Childcare Centre
  • Medical/Insurance Coverage for Family
  • Health and Wellness Programmes
  • Gift for Marriage/Birth
  • Financial Assistance Schemes
  • Family Relocation/Orientation
  • Family Life Ambassador/Education
  • Family/Lactation Room
  • Family Information and Referral Services
  • Elder Care Arrangements/Subsidies
  • Counselling Services
  • Child Care Arrangements/Subsidies
  • Activities Including Family Members
Family Friendly Infrastructure
  • Regular Review of Work-Life Plan
  • Planning for Staff Work-Life Balance
  • Staff Feedback on Work-Life
  • Supervisors Trained on Work-Life
  • Designated Work-Life Officer/Team
  • Work-Life Balance as Core Value
  • Family Friendly Culture
  • Equitable Human Resource Management Practices and Policies
Flexible Work Arrangements
  • Telecommuting
  • Permanent Part-Time
  • Job Sharing
  • Flexible Start/End Time
  • Compressed Work Week

Leave Benefits

  • Study/Exam Leave
  • Renewal Leave/Sabbatical
  • Paternity Leave
  • Marriage Leave
  • Family Care Leave
  • Emergency Leave/Time-Off
  • Bereavement Leave