Employers should promote work-life balance as key retention measure
Singapore, 1 June 2011 - The line between work and personal life is fast blurring for professionals in Asia Pacific, with increasing workplace connectivity and higher expectations from bosses keeping more workers connected to work at all times. According to Robert Half’s latest Workplace Survey, 69% of Singapore employees tune into work when they are out of the office or on holiday, higher than the regional average of 66%.
Reasons cited by Singapore respondents include the need to be available in case of an emergency at work (66%) and filtering through work emails to ensure less stress when returning to the office (60%), suggesting rising work pressures. The survey also noted a high level of employee dedication, or “workaholicism”, with many claiming they preferred to stay on top of work issues even when on holiday (45%), believing they should be available 24/7 as they are using a company mobile phone (29%) or simply finding it impossible to “switch off” (25%). A large number of respondents also cited technological advancements allowing access to work information from anywhere in the world (59%).
Tim Hird, Managing Director, Robert Half Singapore and Japan, commented, “The phenomenon of 24/7 workplace access made possible by technological advancements has led to hyper-connectivity and faster turnaround time, which is undoubtedly an advantage for businesses in this competitive world. However, the pervasiveness of constant work connectivity also means the erosion of personal space, higher stress levels and overall decline in the quality of life for employees. Employers need to be realistic in their expectations to avoid overloading their staff and negatively affecting employees’ morale and work productivity.”
Indeed, the survey found a strong correlation between employees’ workplace connectivity and employers’ expectations, with a substantial 96% of Singapore employers expecting employees to be available/ contactable while on leave/ out-of-office hours, higher than the regional average of 83%. Fortunately, a sizeable 77% said that they expect their staff to be available/ contactable only for emergencies, higher than the regional average of 57%. This suggests that although expectations are high, Singapore bosses are comparatively less unreasonable in their demands than their regional counterparts.
Of those expected to be available/ contactable while on leave or out of office hours, the highest demands are placed on senior management/ director level (75%) staff, followed by middle management (79%) and entry/ junior level (21%) staff. This suggests active involvement and substantial work responsibilities among top level executives in Singapore organisations.
In terms of compensation for being available while on leave/ out of office hours, employees in Singapore are most commonly offered time off in lieu (43%) or overtime payment for additional hours worked (31%). However, 39% of workers are not remunerated for working outside of office hours, higher than the regional average of 33%.
Mr Hird added, “While our study shows that Singapore professionals are generally hardworking and committed to their work, organisations would do well to promote good work-life balance practices and provide competitive remuneration that commensurate with their employees’ contributions, especially in light of the tight labour market.”
Mr Hird offered some tips on how employers can promote work-life balance, which are key to retaining talent and boosting morale to sustain an effective workforce.
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