SINGAPORE - Harmonising work with personal life in today's workplace requires a concerted effort from all corners of society, with each person needed to contribute in different roles as employer, employee, colleague and spouses or parents.
This was the common sentiment that emerged from the first meeting of the Citizens' Panel on Work-Life Harmony on Saturday (Sept 28).
The panel of 58 people is part of a series of engagements with Singaporeans on marriage and parenthood matters led by Manpower Minister Josephine Teo.
It comprises employers and employees from various industries, as well as individuals with varying marital status and family responsibilities.
"Achieving work-life harmony is truly about social norms. It's what we think, what we say that is acceptable to each other," said Mrs Teo, who introduced herself at the beginning of the session as "fellow citizen Jo".
"And when something has to do with social norms, it is probably far more effective if we can galvanise the whole of society to work in concert with each other."
Mrs Teo was joined at the session at Maxwell Chambers by Senior Parliamentary Secretaries Low Yen Ling (Manpower and Education) and Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim (Education and Social and Family Development).
The panel will meet for three more full-day sessions on Oct 12, Oct 26 and Nov 9, after which a set of recommendations will be submitted to the Government, community groups and other relevant partners.
The Government and other parties will review the recommendations and respond early next year.
Housewife Quek See Leng, 35, balances taking care of her two children with freelance curriculum planning.
"I think what underlies everything we are talking about are the values we have in life... Organisations have to look at employees as entire persons," she said.
Senior HR associate Alphonse Yu, 28, said employees have to play their part in defining the future of work-life harmony too, making sacrifices where necessary for measures such as flexible-work arrangements.
"Many employees often think it's up to the management (to implement) but sometimes it's how you behave as the co-worker that sets the tone for how to be fair to everybody," said Mr Yu.
"I hope to hear more from employees in subsequent sessions. Instead of more and more legislation, employees have to speak up about what their future of work looks like."
Singaporeans who are not part of the panel can continue to share their views and contribute to the conversation through a suggestion box at heybaby.sg/PlayAPart.