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Industry Representatives Learn From German Enterprises On Manpower-Lean And Work-Life Strategy Initiatives

  1. Minister of State for Manpower Teo Ser Luck yesterday concluded a six-day industry study trip to Germany to learn more about lean industrial practices and successful work-life strategies.
  2. He was accompanied by delegates from companies, including local SMEs and MNCs, the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP), Singaporean-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and Government representatives.
  3. The delegation visited leading enterprises in Berlin and Munich, including IBM Deutschland GmbH, Biotronik SE & Co. KG and DECKEL MAHO.  
  4. During the trip, the delegation was given an insight into some of the productivity and work-life initiatives that German organisations had implemented. For example, some companies employed flexible working time accounts, which allows employees to accumulate and manage time credits and deficits from working longer and shorter hours respectively. This gives employees the flexibility and option to adjust their working hours on a need-to basis with minimum impact on operations. In cases where there was a need for employees to multi-task, companies also invested extensively in the re-designing of work processes and training for their employees.

    Manpower-lean initiatives and work-life strategies complementary
  5. On the key learning points from the trip, Mr Teo said: “Manpower-lean initiatives and work-life strategies are complementary and will be increasingly essential for companies to remain competitive amidst the tight labour market. This study trip has given us a first-hand look at how things can be done by companies of different sizes and industries.”
  6. Mr Teo added: “The German Government helps to fund SMEs’ research and development through their Central Innovation Programme to solve current and future problems. They have also embarked on a national project to develop policies and programmes for the Future of Work. It is very forward looking and insightful. There are many learning points which can be adapted.
  7. Mr Teo, who advises the LEDS Taskforce and chairs The Tripartite Committee for Work-Life Strategy (Tricom), said, “We will study these learning points from the trip, and strengthen our policies and programmes to help our SMEs be better prepared for the future and challenges."

    Industry: Singapore companies can learn from German counterparts  
  8. Mr Douglas Foo, Vice-President of SNEF, said: “On the area of manpower-lean initiatives implemented by the German companies, we learnt that to reap sustainable productivity gains from automation it is crucial to also streamline work processes, re-organise the workplace as well as enhance the skills sets of employees to undertake different job scopes.”
  9. “I am glad I came on this trip because I learnt a lot from the German companies who were very willing to share their best practices and experiences with us. I am looking forward to taking these lessons home and adapting them to our local context for implementation,” said Mr Low Cheong Kee, founder and CEO of local SME, Home-Fix D.I.Y Pte Ltd.
  10. Ms Lim Hwa Choo, Head of Human Resources ASEAN, Cisco Systems (U.S.A) Pte Ltd said: “What stood out for me is the commitment demonstrated by the Government, workers’ councils, trade unions and companies in promoting work-life strategies across Germany. Cisco Systems has a strong flexible work culture and it is heartening to see that many organisations in Germany, including small and medium-sized enterprises, are taking active steps to promote work-life balance.”
  11. Companies which are interested to find out more about LED and work-life strategies can visit respectively.