Terence Quek

CEO, Singapore Institute of Directors

14 Apr 2022 Work-life harmony


Name:  Terence Quek

Company: Singapore Institute of Directors

Business Case

As a leader and people developer, work-life harmony has always been important to Terence. He credits his 13-year career in the Navy with helping him to value employee development, engagement and building a positive workplace culture.  In the leadership roles he has held since then, he shares that this has become even more relevant as he is able to support the work-life aspirations of employees. 

“When implementing Work-Life strategy, leaders set the tone, and are ultimately accountable”.

He recognises that every employee is unique. Factors such as life-stage, personal aspirations and family needs can affect how an employee prioritises work and personal life. In order to help employees achieve work-life harmony, Terence believes that leaders need to equip them with interpersonal and team strategies and establish processes and practices that allow teams to function effectively with FWAs. When work-life harmony is linked to the vision, values, and purpose of the organisation, and integrated with the organisation’s culture, this produces a persuasive organisational work-life strategy.

“As people are at the centre of everything that we do, we often take a ‘ME to WE’ approach, even when it comes to planning business growth, operations and policies. By taking care of each individual team member’s well-being, we can collectively achieve our desired results even more efficiently. We are also more effective as a team and resilient as an organisation.” He believes that organisations should focus on nurturing a strong culture of communication, collaboration, and respect for others, and also view building and sustaining a positive workplace culture as a continuous process. 

Terence advises that leaders should help managers and employees understand themselves and each other. Employers and employees could use practices such as assuming positive intent (API) to achieve this. “This shifts one’s mindset and leads to more positive outcomes. For example, if a manager asks a remote-working employee about their work, the employee practising API would view the manager as wanting to provide support, rather than criticising them. Conversely, if a manager is having trouble reaching an employee who is on an FWA, they would choose to assume that the employee is attending to an important matter at that moment, rather than assume the employee is skiving.” Over time, this simple practice can improve manager-employee communications. He highlights that managers should also assess employees on the quality of their work rather than the hours they spend in the office. These steps help to foster better understanding and trust, which is necessary for the sustainable implementation of FWAs. 

As a leader, Terence has seen that enabling employees to have better work-life harmony has a positive effect. With FWAs in place, employees have greater control over their time and work, and have shown greater ownership and responsibility for their role as a result. This in turn has translated into better customer service and quality of delivery for client projects. Terence encourages employers to take the lead in supporting employees’ in their work-life journey, as this can positively impact organisational effectiveness over time.


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