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Speech at Launch of Employer Alliance’s Book

Mr Hawazi Daipi, Senior Parliamentary Secretary (Health , Manpower), Sheraton Towers Singapore

Ms Claire Chiang,
Chairperson of Employer Alliance

Members of Employer Alliance Executive Committee

Tripartite Partners

Work-Life Consultants

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  1. I am pleased to join you today for the launch of "Can we have it all?" – the Employer Alliance's new book offering fresh insights on the different ways work-life strategies can benefit both businesses and employees.
  2. Singapore has emerged strongly from the downturn. Just last week, the Ministry of Trade and Industry revised Singapore's GDP growth forecast for 2010 to 13 to 15 per cent1. On the jobs front, total employment rose by over 36,000 in the first quarter of 2010, and the overall unemployment rate dipped to 2.2%2. So, as Singapore rides on the upturn, many businesses are growing and doing well.
  3. With the recovery, businesses face the challenge of attracting and retaining talent. According to a global study of over 5,000 leading companies by the Corporate Executive Board3, the average organisation faces an imminent 7% productivity loss from the combination of departing top talent and under-managed recruiting pipelines. As growing businesses compete to hire talented employees, this will place upward pressure on salaries and bonuses. However, there is a limit to how high and how long one can sustain increases in monetary benefits.
  4. To address this challenge, more and more organisations are turning to work-life strategies. This offers employers a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining valued employees who increasingly place a higher value on work-life harmony. Apart from improved talent attraction and retention, employers such as those featured in the Employer Alliance's new book have found that implementing work-life strategies can also contribute to higher productivity and better customer service through increased employee engagement and lower absenteeism. As Singapore's economy becomes more focused on optimising human capital to drive productivity and growth, and with competition for talent heating up as the labour market tightens, employers should look to work-life strategies as a means to differentiate themselves and their businesses.
  5. SP Services is one such employer featured in the book, which has managed to work together with employees to adopt work-life strategies for a win-win outcome. Leveraging on technology to provide flexi-work arrangements, SP Services has a Wireless Workforce Management System that provides the IT infrastructure for staff to work from home. This saves on commuting time and enables employees to provide better customer service through the usage of real time information to meet the needs of customers faster. Employees embrace the flexibility, and SP Services has experienced increased productivity with less absenteeism, drop in rental costs and better customer services. The Tripartite Committee on Work-Life Strategy is currently looking at leveraging on the Next Generation National Broadband Network to facilitate work to be done at home.
  6. To SP Services and our other employer champions featured in the book, I want to say a big "Thank you!" for taking time out of your busy schedules to spread the work-life message, and for your leadership in implementing effective work-life strategies in your organisations and sharing your best practices with others.
  7. In addition to our employer champions, the development of the work-life landscape in Singapore also rides on the contributions of our home-grown work-life consultants, whose insights and recommendations you will find in the book being launched today. I understand that this is the first time their contributions are being featured in this way. As Singapore grows into a human capital centre, it is important to develop local expertise on progressive human resource practices. I commend you for your efforts and I hope that we will see more from you in future.
  8. This new book by Employer Alliance raises a good question – "Can we have it all?" – and makes a compelling case that, with employers and employees both playing their part, the answer is: Yes, we can have it all. As Singapore's economy shifts to the next gear of sustainable and inclusive growth, I hope that more employers will be inspired to adopt work-life strategies to benefit both their business and their employees. Thank you.