ECCT calls for family friendly workplaces
Reversing Taiwan's low birth rate and population decline will require concerted efforts to address concerns about work-life conflicts, financial security and day care, among others. These are some of the findings of the 2023 Family Friendly Workplace Survey Report released today by the European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan (ECCT). As an initiative of the chamber's Family Friendly Alliance (FFA), the report provides the results of a survey of 1,263 employees and 65 employers in Taiwan conducted in 2022 by Adecco Taiwan in cooperation with the ECCT. The purpose of the survey was to gain an understanding of the level of family friendliness of the workplace environment in Taiwan.
Declining population will lead to talent crunch
Taiwan's population is shrinking and the total fertility rate of 1.08 per woman is one of the world's lowest. This is expected to lead to a chronic labour and talent shortage in the near future. While the government has rolled out a number of policy measures, such as expanding public childcare services, providing childcare subsidies, subsidised IVF treatment and childcare support for children under the age of six, so far, they have failed to reverse the trend.
The survey posed 23 questions to employees and 15 questions for employers. Based on the results, the report lists some of the work-life conflicts commonly faced by employees and their needs and expectations for support. It also sets out challenges faced by employers and explores possible solutions.
Parents need more financial support and flexible working options
Respondents agreed that there is a clear link between childcare subsidies, allowances and paid parental leave offered by companies and their willingness to have children. In addition, having flexible working hours and being able to work remotely were considered extremely helpful for workers who wished to balance work and family life.
On the question as to the most important factors when making job decisions, employees ranked work-family balance as the third most important factor after salary (1st) and job stability (2nd). On the question as to the major challenges in maintaining work and family balance, the most significant challenges facing employees were 1) concerns about performance review results and chances for gaining a promotion when taking family leave (cited by 39.89% of respondents); 2) difficulty in finding a job opportunity where both job requirements and family demands can be met (cited by 39.36% of respondents) and 3) long working hours and little private time (37.65% of respondents). Most respondents reported difficulty striking a balance between work and family life.
Good and affordable childcare is in short supply
For childcare, most employees must rely on day care facilities or support from relatives or else they are forced to sacrifice some working hours or switch to a part-time job in order to have more time and energy to take care of their children.
Moreover, the most common stress reported by participants with children was “having no time and energy to take care of children due to long working hours”, followed by “worries about the quality of infant and childcare centres”.
Desire for quality of life and financial security impeding fertility
As to the reasons for a decline in the fertility rate, the top reason cited by respondents was 1) because they want a quality personal life (cited by 64.46% of respondents), followed by 2) the desire to save money to buy a home or pay a mortgage (63.37%); 3) unstable financial capability (57.23%); 4) do not have a partner yet (49.5%); 5) have difficulty arranging childcare with no support from family members (41.88%) and 6) live in an unfavourable social environment (38.12%, due to pollution, bad education system and high competitiveness).
When making a childbearing decision, having favourable financial capability is considered the most important factor, followed by 2) having the right partner; 3) having good physical and mental health; 4) able to provide a good environment for children and 5) having time to spend with children.
Businesses can play a key role
Businesses can play a key role in addressing work-life conflicts by creating more family-friendly, diverse and inclusive workplaces. At present, the family friendly policies most businesses offer are flexible working hours and remote/hybrid work. Many companies also offer subsidies such as marriage and maternity allowances (offered by around 50% of respondents' companies) and parental leave above the statutory requirement (offered by 43.56% of respondents' companies).
The report also contains chapters by members of the ECCT's FFA in which they share information and best practices on how they are improving the family friendliness of their workplaces in Taiwan. These include providing flexible working arrangements, higher than the statutory requirements for parental leave, childcare support and promoting the government's support policies for fertility treatment and child support.