May 30, 2011
Singapore workers ‘world’s unhappiest’
Survey of 14 countries finds local employees are also the least loyal
By Melissa Ho
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.’