Manpower-lean initiatives essential for firms to stay competitive: Teo Ser Luck

October 31, 201610:23 am258 views
Manpower-lean initiatives essential for firms to stay competitive: Teo Ser Luck
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Flexible working time accounts, in which employees accumulate and adjust their working hours on a “need-to” basis, based on the length of time they put in, and companies investing extensively in redesigning work processes and training for workers who multi-task.

These are some of the productivity and work-life initiatives Singapore can learn from Germany.

Such manpower-lean initiatives and work-life strategies are “complementary” and will be “increasingly essential” for firms to stay competitive in a tight labour market, Minister of State (Manpower) Teo Ser Luck said yesterday in a ministry statement.

On Saturday, Mr Teo concluded a six-day industry study trip to Germany to learn more about lean industrial practices and successful work-life strategies.

The delegation visited leading enterprises in Berlin and Munich, including IBM Deutschland GmbH, Biotronik SE & Co KG and Deckel Maho.

Mr Teo pointed to the German government’s Central Innovation Programme, which funds small and medium enterprises’ research and development as a “forward-looking and insightful” example.

“We’ll 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,” said Mr Teo, who advises the Lean Enterprise Development Taskforce and chairs the Tripartite Committee for Work-Life Strategy.

Accompanying him were representatives from the Singapore National Employers Federation (Snef), the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices, the Singaporean-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce and local SMEs and multinational corporations, for instance.

: What stood out for Cisco Systems (USA) head of human resources (Asean) Lim Hwa Choo was the commitment demonstrated by various players, such as the government, workers’ councils, trade unions and companies, to promoting work-life strategies across Germany.

“Cisco Systems has a strong, flexible  work culture, and it’s heartening to see that many organisations in Germany, including SMEs, are taking active steps to promote (a) work-life balance,” she said.

To enjoy sustainable productivity gains from automation, it was also crucial to streamline work processes, said Snef vice-president Douglas Foo. This could involve reorganising the workplace and enhancing employees’ skill sets to undertake different job scopes.

Mr Low Cheong Kee, CEO of Home-Fix DIY, said he was looking forward to adapting the lessons he learnt to the local context.


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