A Ground-up Approach to Work-Life Harmony

Learn how City Development Limited empowers its employees to influence its work-life culture.

21 Apr 2020 Case studies Work-life harmony Best practices




City Developments Limited

City Developments Limited (CDL) is a Singapore-listed international company involved in real estate development and investment, hotel ownership and management, facilities management, and funds management. Established over 55 years ago, the organisation today has a presence in 103 locations across 29 countries and regions.


Professional-Scientific and Technical Activities

Employment size


Employment profile

Executives and Managers. Employees are mostly between 30-50 years old, and predominantly female.

Business Case

CDL credits much of its success in realising its vision of ’Building Value for Tomorrow, Today’ to its highly engaged and dedicated team of employees. To the leadership, employees’ physical and mental well-being are directly linked to their performance, and ultimately, organisational success. With these goals in mind, CDL focused on developing, engaging, and caring for its people, enabling them to achieve fulfilment on both personal and professional levels.

Flexible Work Arrangements

  • Staggered time
  • Telecommuting

Employee Support Schemes

  • ‘Eat with Your Family Day’
  • Lactation room 
  • Health and wellness programmes (Weekly jogging and yoga)


An Employee-Driven Approach

CDL recognises that a bottom-up approach is the best way to achieve employee buy-in for its work-life strategies. Thus, it set up the Staff Connect Committee, which is made up of 20 employees representing all departments within CDL. Members, who each serve two-year tenures, act as a voice for their respective departments, sharing their team members’ feedback on work-life challenges with HR and management. They also help to refine policies and initiatives to meet employees’ needs. The Committee also collaborates with the HR team to implement work-life suggestions from employees. One work-life initiative that stemmed from employee feedback, was the lactation room built to help new mothers in their transition back to work.

Tailored Work-Life Solutions

Despite its size and fast-paced work environment, CDL remains agile in meeting its employees’ work-life needs. Its leadership believes in adopting a tailored approach towards creating work-life solutions as it recognises that its diverse team of employees are at different life stages and have different personal responsibilities and goals. Personalising work-life solutions has proven to be an efficient approach for CDL, as this ensures that the work-life programmes implemented genuinely meet the needs of employees. This, in turn, enables the employees to give their best at work and achieve business results.

One example is of a promising executive who was going through a difficult pregnancy. The management worked with her to devise a customised solution which allowed her to take a combination of paid and unpaid leave during her pregnancy, as well as hiring a temporary staff to cover her duties in her absence. This enabled her to rest and recover before returning to work. In this case, the investment in employee well-being paid off – the staff returned to work and was later promoted to a managerial position.

Constant Dialogue

At CDL, regular two-way communication between the management and employees has been pivotal in building a strong culture of trust, as well as continually refining work-life programmes. Through both formal and informal channels, the leadership hears directly from employees on how CDL can help to meet their work-life needs.
The organisation conducts a biennial employee survey that enables the leadership to gauge its employee engagement levels when benchmarked against other industry players. Employees also have regular opportunities to share ideas and feedback directly with CDL’s CEO at quarterly CEO Dialogue sessions.

Informal chat sessions with managers are also held – the relaxed setting makes it easier for employees to offer genuine feedback. The organisation also ensures that all actionable feedback is followed up on.


CDL has seen positive outcomes from its work-life strategy. By listening well to employees and customising work-life programmes, the organisation has cultivated a dedicated team of employees who will reciprocate by going the extra mile for the organisation.

Its annual Corporate Health Survey results show that employee morale and engagement is at high levels and is constantly improving, with most employees reporting ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ levels of personal work-life harmony. Employees also responded positively towards the organisation’s efforts in creating a work-life friendly workplace.

When benchmarked against other organisations in Singapore, CDL’s Employee Engagement Index has consistently remained above the country norm since 2011, suggesting that its work-life strategy is a key differentiator for the organisation, making it an Employer of Choice in the market. Senior management has found that this helps CDL attract new talent as well as retain current employees.

CDL has also been recognised on national platforms for the effectiveness of its work-life strategy. The organisation received the Singapore HEALTH Award (Platinum) in 2012. It was also awarded the Special Mention Award – WOW! (Watch Out World!) Award in 2015, by the Great Place to Work® Institute in recognition of its progressive workplace culture and good people practices.

This case study was first published in 2017, and has been adapted from TAFEP's Work-Life Resource Portal.