Flexi-work options still a stretch in Singapore
SINGAPORE, Sept 17 — Slowly but surely, Singapore society is embracing flexible work arrangements, going by the growing number of websites that provide a network for those seeking such work or help to match them with suitable companies.
However, the range of jobs offering such work arrangements is still limited to a few sectors, as observers called for mindset shifts in employers, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Despite the Government’s push and its range of initiatives, including funding assistance schemes for companies, the idea of offering flexible work arrangements — such as part-time work, staggered hours, job-sharing, telecommuting and alternative work schedules — has not taken off among employers.
Between 2007 and 2010, the proportion of establishments offering at least one form of flexible work arrangement to their employees increased from 25 per cent to 35 per cent.
Since its launch in May, FlexiWerkz — an online resource for those looking for flexible work arrangements — has had 300 sign-ups and 80 companies coming on board to offer positions ranging from waiters to nurses, Web designers, opticians and copywriters.
There are also job portals such as Mums@Work, Dads for Life and Silver Spring, which cater to specific groups of job-seekers looking for flexi-work opportunities.
Mums@Work, which was established in May 2010, has almost 600 job openings offering flexible work arrangements. According to founder Sher-li Torrey, it has 5,168 members on its books, who all hold diploma qualifications and above.
Ms Torrey, who has faced “less resistance” from employers over the years, said: “Though it’s growing, it’s not a large pool.”
She added: “There will be a rising trend in job-seekers who want flexibility. This is largely due to the emergence of Generation Y employees who see the benefit of work-life balance.”
FlexiWerkz Director Lorraine Boon reiterated that for there to be more flexi-work options, “employers must come round to the idea of offering meaningful jobs to new employees”.
Mr Josh Goh, Assistant Director of Corporate Services at human resource consultancy The GMP Group, said: “Many employers in Singapore still hold on to the perception that ‘face-time’ equates to productivity, Some employers, especially in smaller companies where cashflow is a major concern, are afraid that a flexi-work system means incurring more operating costs as they have to hire additional staff.”
Ms Michelle Lim, Chief Operating Officer for JobsCentral Group, said common concerns for employers “include commitment and engagement of the employee, not having the person around when work needs to be done, and, in cases where the employee is telecommuting, whether or not he is actually working”. But she pointed out: “These concerns can be mitigated if proper expectations and key performance indicators are set and monitored and both parties do their part to communicate well.”
Mr Chan Chong Beng, who is the President of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, said that SMEs are more than willing to offer flexible work arrangements — provided they are guided on the implementation. “Because, like other companies, they are facing problems retaining their staff,” he said. — Reuters