Work-life balance? 'Know trade-offs too'

Work-life balance? 'Know trade-offs too'

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has sought to inject some balance in the national preoccupation with work-life balance, warning Singaporeans that competitors are out to steal their lunch.

At a televised forum last Tuesday night, he said the idea of work-life balance has become so popular it is now a tag phrase.

"They call it a meme on the Internet," he said, adding that people who used the phrase did not seem quite sure what they meant by it except that they would like more free time and less stress.

It was also not clear if people knew the trade-offs, he said.

"If you look at other countries: Vietnam, China, even in India, they're not talking about work-life balance; they are hungry, anxious, about to steal your lunch. So I think I'd better guard my lunch."

He did not agree with the generalisation that younger people want an easy life.

"I would not write off young people," he said. "I think there are a lot of very hard-working young people and very altruistic young people who do a lot of good work beyond themselves."

Among the questions he fielded during a one-hour broadcast on Channel NewsAsia was one on who would foot the bill for new policies to increase support for the vulnerable members of society.

He said the State cannot pay for all the measures and that individuals and the community have to play their part.

Citing the move towards universal health insurance coverage, Mr Lee said more must be done to encourage people to pay their MediShield Life premiums as otherwise, others on the scheme will have to pick up the tab.

Besides rules and schemes to make payment convenient, social pressure from the community is also important, he said.

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