SINGAPORE: A recent study on marriage and parenthood showed that one of the ways singles are most comfortable meeting members of the opposite sex is through their colleagues.
With Singaporeans clocking long hours at work, some experts said it makes sense for employers to play a more active role in pairing up single employees.
But just how far should the boss play matchmaker?
Public Relations agency Asia PR Werkz counts the Social and Family Development Ministry as one of its clients so it is naturally attuned to creating social opportunities for its single employees.
About 70 per cent of their employees are not married.
As an employer, the company does its part. For example, it forwards information on programmes by accredited dating agencies and even giving subsidies to staff to take part in those activities.
Fellow colleagues also give a social nudge by buying one another dating vouches that can be redeemed at any accredited dating agency.
Cho Pei Lin, managing director at Asia PR Werkz, said: "I think it is a cultural shift. We have seen in the past ten years many more companies being involved for example in terms of organising talks, for parenting for their staff, organising activities like Family Days.
"If viewed 20 years ago, that could be very intrusive of an employer. However in today’s context, employees would say these are good initiatives. I would say in time to come, we would see more shifts toward such initiatives. It is all about creating a working environment that is pro—family and that would have to become necessary because other companies are starting to do that and they then become a better attraction to employees who are choosing where to work.
"They (employees) want to work in a place where an organisation is pro—family, which encourages in different ways, from singlehood to parenting, to strengthening marriages to three generation bonding. If there is a company that is providing all these, it becomes a more attractive employer to me and I would want to work for such a company."
Some said the government could do more to fund companies that roll out such programmes aimed at encouraging singles to mingle on a regular basis.
Lim Soon Hock, chairman of National Family Council said: "I’m not too sure whether in a basket of so many things, which companies have got to pay particular attention to, that they are going to devote a lot of time for programmes for singles.
"Having said that, I think there is nothing to lose if we can incentivise these companies to help the country, government create opportunities for people to socialise and in the process, get people hitched, and more marriages, more babies."
Paulin Straughan, Associate Professor of Sociology at the National University of Singapore, said: "If you don’t find your significant other at work then unless you have a very active social life outside of work, chances are you won’t be able to find somebody who is compatible and able to share your life with you.
"And the important thing to note too is that expectations of marriage in contemporary Singapore have also shifted. In the past, for my grandmothers’ generation, for example, she was just put on a ship from Canton to Singapore and told to marry whoever her brother set her up with, because she needed to get married otherwise who is going to look after her?"
Those Channel NewsAsia spoke with had mixed views about employers playing matchmaker.
"That should be ok. It gives you more opportunities and there is no harm trying it out," said 25—year—old Gavin Sim.
Naturally, some employers would be cautious about getting involved in their employees’ personal life.
Joni Ong, managing director at Kanesaka Sushi, said: "Employers should not get involved in match—making. In my personal view, I think the employees themselves would kind of feel stigmatize. I mean, if I’m a single and not able to find my own mate, I think the employers should stay away from that. What they can do is have a better work culture where we work regular hours, letting staff go home. If we do that, then the singles would have no choice but to hang out."
She added: "For me honestly, employers shouldn’t get involved and we shouldn’t incentivize. The money can be better placed with Social Development Network for their activities and community centres. I know that these constituencies have Family Ambassadors, the Youth Wings and they organise a lot of activities for singles to mingle as well."
MORE SINGAPORE NEWS
Latest Photo Galleries on xinmsn
Dutch director Alex van Warmerdam presents 'Borgman' at the Cannes festival, a film in which a wealthy family's carefully constructed world ... More Dutch director Alex van Warmerdam presents 'Borgman' at the Cannes festival, a film in which a wealthy family's carefully constructed world gets turned upside down by an intruder. Duration: 01:09
Date 6 hrs ago, Duration 1:09, Views 5