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Speech at Work-Life Conference 2007

Mr Hawazi Daipi, Tripartite Committee on Work-Life Strategy and Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower, Orchard Hotel Singapore

Mr Teo Chee Hean, Minister for Defence and Minister in Charge of the Civil Service

Ms Claire Chiang, Chairperson of the Employer Alliance

NTUC Central Committee members

SNEF Council members

Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen

Good morning.  I am very happy to welcome you at Work-Life Conference 2007.

2.   I would like to thank our Guest-of-Honour, Minister Teo Chee Hean for gracing the occasion. I also want to thank the Employer Alliance for helping to organise this conference. Today's conference caters to both employers just beginning their Work-Life programmes, as well as to more "experienced" employers seeking to learn from international best practice and build on their early initiatives.

3.   The Tripartite Committee on Work-Life Strategy brings together many partners – Employer Associations including SNEF, ASME and the Employer Alliance; representatives from the NTUC; HR bodies SHRI and STADA; academics from NTU as well as Government representatives, to drive the promotion of Work-Life in Singapore. 

4.   In promoting Work-Life, our Committee has recognised that the challenge was not just about introducing new programmes but also about changing mindsets. How do we change mindsets? Employers will not be convinced that Work-Life makes business sense just because the Government says so.  They are more likely to be persuaded when they hear their fellow employers talking about how Work-Life has benefited their organisations and employees. 

5.   To help change mindsets and facilitate CEO-to-CEO dialogue about Work-Life, the Employer Alliance, with the support of the Tripartite Committee, was launched several years ago. The Employer Alliance is a group of CEOs who are convinced about the benefits of Work-Life and are prepared to share their experience with fellow CEOs. Through the efforts of the Alliance, many more employers have now joined the Alliance in advocating Work-Life to their fellow CEOs. In this regard, let me place on record my thanks to the former chairperson of the Employer Alliance, Ms Patricia Yim of IBM, who has contributed much to the Alliance's success. 

6.   I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome Ms Claire Chiang as the Employer Alliance's new chairperson. Two weeks ago, I was present when the Employer Alliance launched its Work-Life "tool book". The event was well attended by many business leaders. Their support for the Employer Alliance's initiative – and your strong presence here today – demonstrate that Work-Life is increasingly recognised as an important strategy to build an engaged workforce and achieve high performance.

7.   Some employers who are convinced of the benefits of Work-Life may not have the knowledge and resources to implement it at their workplace. To help them build capability, the Tripartite Committee has organised talks and seminars on Work-Life practices, and built up a pool of local Work-Life consultants who are able to assist companies to implement Work-Life programmes. Last year, to recognise employers with good Work-Life strategies, the Tripartite Committee launched the Work-Life Excellence Award. The Award also serves as a clear road map to guide employers who want to help their staff better manage work and personal responsibilities, thereby enabling them to make greater contributions to the workplace. 

8.   To facilitate the introduction of Work-Life initiatives, the Government launched the $10-million WoW! Fund in 2004. Through the efforts of the Tripartite Committee and its partners, the WoW! Fund has received encouraging response and has been well-utilised. The Fund has benefited many employers, particularly the SMEs. In view of the positive outcome, the Government has set aside another $10 million to encourage more employers to introduce Work-Life initiatives at their workplaces. 

9.   In today's competitive business environment, engaged and productive employees and talent are crucial to the success of an organisation. Hence, companies need to incorporate employees' Work-Life concerns into their overall business and HR strategies to create a work environment where employees can effectively manage their Work-Life and give of their best. Such workers are likely to be loyal to employers, which is a big plus in tight labour market situation.

10.  I believe many employers with us today are already aware of the importance of Work-Life to staff motivation and business performance. I hope that this Work-Life Conference will provide a valuable learning experience for all and convince more employers to take steps to implement appropriate Work-Life initiatives in their workplaces.  

11.  I wish everyone a fruitful conference.

Thank you.