I remember a few years ago when the lack of requirement to pay workers a fixed proper retrenchment in the Employment Act was discussed , PM Lee was interviewed on TV and what he said I can't forget. He told the reporter that Singapore must make it easier for companies to lay off workers so that they would be more willing to hire them. Over the years, Singapore moved from a management style that treasured worker loyalty to one that hire and fire workers based on how it affected the profitability of company...very often short term profitability. Many ordinary Singapore workers became expendable in companies they worked in hired quickly and retrenched quickly when the business slows.
A few months ago, I interviewed a candidate for a position in my company and he showed me his certifications for various software skills, He had worked for 10 years and collected quite a few of these training certifications. However, not a single one was paid for by the 3-4 companies he worked in. As a IT graduate, he was hired on one 2-year contract after another. When his contract ended and the company didn't have work for him, they would lay him off and he would look for another job. Because the companies only plan to keep him for short periods, they were unwilling to invest in training and he had to get to those certifications on his own to stay employable. Over time, workers like the one I interviewed lose this concept of loyalty to company. They expect to hop from one job to another not staying at a place for more than 5 years.
"Sales assistant Janice Lin, who turns 26 this year, 'hopped' five times before landing her current job"
- Article below.
This whole system spirals into a vicious cycle. Companies don't expect workers to stay hence they invest less in training. Workers sensing that employers can and will retrench them at the slightest change in demand for the company's products, will just hop to the next job for a small increase in pay. The worker who hops around fail to build up any domain knowledge that distiguishes him from other workers. Now throw in the ease of hiring foreigners in Singapore and you realise employers can easily replace Singaporeans who are older and higher paid. Managers primarily manage cost of manpower not the build up of capability and productivity - instead of maximising the people they have, it is easier for them to cut cost by hiring cheaper workers. Now you superimpose this whole situation with Singapore's 3rd World wage structure that resulted in the largest income gap in the developed world. Is there any surprise that Singapore workers are the most unhappy in the world (among 14 countries surveyed)?
In the absence of independent unions - they all disappeared thanks to our half-enlightened former MM - the PAP govt pandered to the demands of businesses and foreign direct investments for lowering workers' benefits and importing foreign labor...to grow the GDP quickly. In the process, they destroyed this great francise known as the 'Singapore Worker'. They wrongly believed that PAP leadership was solely responsible for Singapore's success. Singapore workers were once ranked number 1 in the word in the 80s and early 90s.....now they are ranked number 1 in unhappiness and have one of the lowest productivity growth among workers in developed nations.
S'pore workers 'world's unhappiest'
Survey of 14 countries finds local employees are also the least loyal
By Melissa Ho
-- ST GRAPHICS
HATE your work? Dread going in on Monday? Considering quitting your job?
Well, you are not alone. Most of the Singapore workforce is with you, according to one survey.
A poll of employee attitudes in 14 countries has ranked Singapore last in workplace happiness. Unsurprisingly, this correlates to loyalty to employers, where Singapore is again ranked at the rear.
Talent management company Lumesse polled about 4,000 employees from a wide variety of industries.
People were asked about how happy they were at work, whether they felt their skills were properly utilised, the career paths open to them, and the training and career development opportunities they had.
The results put Singapore last in three major areas - we least enjoy going to work, are the least loyal and have the least supportive workplaces.
Only 17 per cent of Singapore's workforce see themselves staying with their current employer forever. The global average is 35 per cent.
'Clearly, very few employees feel bonded to their companies. This is going to be a problem as companies are not getting the full potential of workers,' said Mr Rolf Bezemer, Lumesse's managing director for Singapore, Malaysia and Australia.
At the same time, only 19 per cent of those polled in Singapore look forward to their work each day, compared to the global average of 30 per cent.
When it comes to positive and supportive workplaces, only a paltry 12 per cent vouch that they exist in Singapore. Globally, 20 per cent believe so.
Mr Bezemer attributes Singapore's poor showing to the lack of transparency and consistency in workplaces here and an absence of stimulating jobs.
Ms Wong Su-Yen, senior partner and Asean managing director for human resources consultancy firm Mercer, said: 'Strong economic growth in Singapore has led to increased job opportunities, so organisations must work harder than ever to attract and retain people.'
Mr Phillip Overmyer, chief executive at Singapore International Chamber of Commerce, agreed: 'There are so many opportunities to be employed (in Singapore) that people don't mind job hopping as they know they can always find something equally good, if not better, elsewhere.'
That might suggest that monetary incentives are the way forward but money does not always make the world go round.
The Lumesse survey found that Singapore performed well on pay, with 14 per cent commenting that their salaries have gone up by at least 20 per cent over five years. The global average is 9 per cent.
Yet people are still leaving.
Ms Majella Slevin, manager for secretarial and support division at human resources firm Robert Walters, added: 'People stay in jobs also for a good work-life balance and clear career paths.'
They must also feel that they are valued employees, she added
Sales assistant Janice Lin, who turns 26 this year, 'hopped' five times before landing her current job.
'It's very common for young adults to try out different things for novelty's sake. A lot of my friends do it,' she said.
She estimates that an average working person like her will job-hop three times, staying in each place for about a year, before settling down.
In today's talent-scarce society, perhaps this should be taken as only natural. Rather than fight it, embrace it.
Do not focus on seeking long-term employment from all employees, advises Mr Josh Goh, assistant director, corporate services, for HR firm The GMP Group.
Instead, he said: 'Focus efforts on building a strong employer brand by harnessing the best from employees during their employment.'