Employees In Singapore Are Less Engaged

singapore employee engagement

A recent survey of over 5 million employee responses showed that less than 25 percent of employees consider themselves to be highly engaged in their company.

The report, “2017 Trends in Global Employee Engagement,” by Aon Hewitt, covered over 60 industries and showed overall engagement (highly engaged + moderately engaged) scores in the 60 percent range.

Both Singapore and Malaysia fell to below 60 percent for employee engagement. Singapore had a four- point decrease year on year.

Other APAC countries are slightly higher, but are all under 70 percent. India leads the pack at 69 percent, China is at 67 percent, Thailand and the Philippines are tied at 65 percent, with Indonesia rounding out the mix at 61 percent.

employee engagement in singapore 2017

In particular, millennials feel the most disengagement, particularly when surveyed about their companies’ methods to attract talent, promote employees and retain staff. Millennials also rated low on feeling their companies were giving them the appropriate resources to do their jobs.

According to Stephen Hickey, a Partner at Aon Hewitt APAC, “As organisations strive to fuel growth, they must understand how their workforce productivity and pay programmes—both fixed and variable, compare to market. They must educate their people on how they implement pay for performance and recognise top contributors using a blend of financial and non-financial rewards such as development opportunities.”

Aon Hewitt found that there are regional variations in engagement, driven by cultural differences, regional political climate, and local economics. However, some things are universal: colleague recognition and fairness in reward programs is increasingly important in engaging a workforce.

Highest-performing employees are also the most engaged, and there are definitely financial benefits to having engaged employees. Companies with engaged employees outperform other companies by 202 percent and have lower absenteeism. In fact, companies that increase investments in employee engagement by 10 percent reap a reward of higher productivity by $2,400 per employee per year.

Salary Growth Rates Expected Across Asia Pacific In 2017

salary increment asia 2017

Mercer recently performed research on the nominal wage growth occurring in Asia-Pacific countries, and found that that employees should be receiving slightly higher salary increases in 2017 compared to 2016.

The region is seen as an outlier due to the uncertainty of the global economy, and the fact that it is expected to perform above the global average. Inflation is low for most of the countries, so that helps to make the real wage growth relatively better.

Expected Percentages

Two countries that have the largest percentage of salary growth are Vietnam at 9.2 percent and India at 10.8 percent.

In addition, the financial regions of Singapore and Hong Kong are both expected to see about a 4 percent increase.

Countries that are among the lowest with increases between 2-3 percent, include Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

salaries in asia 2017

Employee Pay Levels And Rewards

Korea, Australia and Japan all have starting salaries that begin at about $30,000, and as employees move up the ladder, salaries rise steadily to the point where they could be making between $250,000 and $350,000.

In many of the countries in Asia (especially China), executives that are higher up in companies will earn better paychecks than their counterparts in the United Kingdom and the United States. However, this is only keeping salaries in mind, since things are different when the long-term incentives and social security benefits available in Europe are brought into the equation.

In Asia countries need to focus more on benefits and take a tailored approach. For instance, Korea and Japan both have an aging workforce with the average age of 45, and the benefits provided revolve around retirement and long-term incentives, whereas places with a younger workforce like in the Philippines, Indonesia and India focus on learning and development along with flexible benefits.

Turnover

Turnover seems to be an issue for companies in just about all of the Asia-Pacific countries as the research uncovered a double-digit turnover rate. The only two countries that aren’t facing these high rates of turnover are New Zealand and Japan.

Tech Firms In Asia Raise Salary Budgets Due To Rising Turnover

asia turnover salary 2017

Experts might expect that, given the fluctuating state of the global economy, employees would want to retain their positions for longer periods of time. However, at least in the technology industry in the Asia-Pacific region, and in Singapore, specifically, this does not hold true.

New reports show that technology companies in Asia-Pacific have high voluntary employee turnover rates. These high turnover rates are a surprising outcome considering the high levels of instability and uncertainty in economies around the world.

In fact, voluntary turnover rates in all markets, except for Japan and South Korea, are higher than 10 percent. Singapore is fourth when compared to all regional major markets at 11.7 percent, trailing Australia, Malaysia and India in terms of the highest voluntary turnover rates.

These stats came from the Radford Trends Report, which publishes surveys and reports about compensation and development in more than 80 countries. Radford is a part of Aon Hewitt.

As a result of the increasing voluntary employee turnover, the report shows that many of the companies in the region have started to create hiring plans that might be deemed more aggressive than normal. Two-thirds of companies in the technology sector in Asia-Pacific have created detailed plans to help address this situation.

India is also leading this trend, with 13 percent of the companies implementing an aggressive hiring plan. Companies in India are also reporting plans to take their salary increase budgets from 10.5% in 2016 to 11% in 2017.

While the salary increase isn’t quite as drastic in Singapore as it is in countries like India or Indonesia, it isn’t far behind.

Companies in Singapore are also working to improve their employee retention. To respond to median voluntary turnover at 11.7%, technology companies in Singapore are keeping more aside for salary increase budgets (4.4% in 2017 vs 4.2% in 2016).

technology it company salary increase 2017 asia singapore

Economic Activity Improved For 14 Of 19 Sectors In Asia (Nov 2016)

asia jobs november 2016

The Nikkei Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) measures economic activity (such as output, new orders, prices) and consequently employment growth/contraction.

A number above 50 points towards an economic expansion and below 50 points toward a contraction.

Here is a summary of the PMI numbers for countries in Asia, during November 2016. Numbers in brackets are for the previous month.

  • Singapore: 52.8 (50.5)
  • Hong Kong: 49.5 (48.2)
  • Japan: Services 51.8 (50.5), Manufacturing 51.3 (51.4)
  • India: Services 46.7 (54.5) , Manufacturing 52.3 (54.4)
  • Philippines: 56.3 (56.5)
  • Malaysia: 47.1 (47.2)
  • Indonesia: 49.7 (48.7)
  • Thailand: 48.2 (48.8)
  • Vietnam: 54.0 (51.7)

The PMI increased for 14 of the 19 sectors in Asia. Below are some of the sectors which showed the strongest growth and contraction.

  • General industrials: 57.0
  • Industrial services: 56.3
  • Commercial & professional services: 56.1
  • Real estate: 48.9
  • Healthcare services: 48.5
  • Insurance: 46.6

Soft Skills Development Lacking In Asia/Singapore

soft skills singapore asia

Technical/Hard skills may be the ones most commonly listed on resumes, but a recent study by the Singapore Management University, in partnership with J.P. Morgan, shows that soft skills are the ones that many economies in the region are lacking.

The study looked at the skills challenges in countries that are part of the Association of South East Asian Nations, or ASEAN, especially Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

Results showed that even in government programs, like SkillsFuture in Singapore, participants and employees were receiving sufficient training in hard skills, but soft skills, or the abilities that can be taken across jobs, were being pushed aside.

Soft skills are the characteristics and skills that employees can use anywhere they go, such as common sense, interpersonal and social skills, communication skills, and character traits. They are important for relationships with others, which is something all employees need at any level of employment.

SkillsFuture, the Singapore government’s national effort to improve the education, training and careers of their residents and workers, has made significant strides toward giving employees the teachable, specific skills that are measurable, or hard skills training.

However, the lack of soft skills is one area in which the Singaporean economy needs improvement. The report also showed other factors and shortages that may be impacting the economy.

  • Singapore, right now, has a high reliance on foreign workers. As a result, the study notes that redesigning or restructuring jobs to better use technology and increase productivity could help to reduce this reliance on foreign workers.
  • There is a definite lack of skilled middle and senior-level professionals in the cybersecurity fields. Much of this is due to lack of training programs and paths to entry for those looking for mid-career switch into the field.
  • Skill gaps are also present in the info-communications technology, electronics, electronics manufacturing, finance and insurance fields. Furthermore, employers are having a hard time attracting qualified professionals into these fields because of pay cuts that many will experience, along with the extensive knowledge needed for success.

Lower Salary Increases Expected in 2017, For Most Of Asia Pacific

average salary increase asia 2017

As per a report by Willis Towers Watson, salaries in Asia Pacific are expected to increase by 5.9% in 2017.

For 2016 they had predicted an increase of 6.4%. However, the actual salary increase in Asia Pacific was 5.8%.

If the same pattern plays out in 2017, then Willis Towers Watson expects an actual increment that is a fair bit lower than 5.9%. That will make it the third consecutive year of declining budgets for salary increments.

bonus-salary-increment-asia-2017

If these numbers are adjusted for inflation, then the real salary increase in 2017 is projected to be 2.9% in Asia-Pacific, as compared to an actual increase of 3.5% in 2016.

Here is a breakdown of the numbers for several countries across Asia Pacific.

Country Projected Salary Increase %

(2017, After Inflation)

Vietnam 6.4
Bangladesh 5.0
Pakistan 5.0
China 4.9
Philippines 4.4
Thailand 4.4
India 4.3
Indonesia 4.3
Cambodia 4.0
Singapore 3.2
Malaysia 3.1
Japan 1.9
Hong Kong 1.7
Australia 0.9
Myanmar -2.2

 

“We are seeing lower salary increase budgets across much of the region,” stated Sambhav Rakyan, Business Leader, Asia Pacific, at Willis Towers Watson.

How Many Asians Are Working Overseas And Will They Return?

popular jobs for asians

There are many people from South East Asia who are living and working away from home. A few of the main reasons for seeking employment overseas include higher compensation, greater/new exposure and career development opportunities.

As per a survey by the recruitment firm, Robert Walters, Vietnam has the most people working overseas, followed by Malaysia.

asians working overseas


Does this talent plan on returning home?

The majority are interested in returning to their home land because they want to care for their parents, live in a place/culture where they are most comfortable and to leverage their overseas experience to attain greater pay and career progression back home.

do asians want to work in home country


Which jobs/functions are the returning Asian talent most interested in?

popular jobs for asians


In you are planning on hiring Asian talent from overseas, what are the main things you need to consider?

jobs for asians

Robert Walters also recommends making it easy for them to return, by helping with shipping and housing search, and also by giving them time-off during the initial weeks to settle in.

The Best Companies To Work For In Asia Pacific (2016)

benefits of being a great employer in Asia

Aon Hewitt announced the best employers in Asia Pacific, based on a study/assessment it conducts.

Here are the organisations that made the cut in 2016.


Best Employers in Asia Pacific (Regional)


  • DBS Bank
  • American Express
  • The Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Resorts
  • FedEx Express Asia Pacific

Best Employers in Singapore


  • The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia
  • American Express
  • DBS Bank
  • DHL Express
  • Far East Hospitality
  • Mundipharma
  • OCBC Bank

Best Employers in Hong Kong


  • AIA International
  • American Express
  • Baxter Healthcare
  • DBS Bank
  • DHL Express
  • McDonald’s Restaurants
  • The Ritz-Carlton

Best Employers in Thailand


  • Advanced Info Services
  • Advanced Contact Center
  • American Express
  • McThai
  • Mitr Phol Sugar Factory
  • Phyathai 3 Hospital
  • Swensen’s
  • Toyota Motor

Best Employers in India


  • AccorHotels
  • AGS Health
  • Bajaj Allianz General Insurance
  • Bajaj Finance
  • Becton Dickinson
  • Bharti Infratel
  • Blue Dart Express
  • DHL Express
  • Hewlett Packard
  • Reliance AMC

Best Employers in China


  • AIA
  • Bayer
  • DHL SinoTrans International Air Courier
  • Infinitus
  • McDonald’s
  • MSD China Holding
  • Novartis Group
  • Pfizer
  • Taikang Life Insurance
  • TheRitz-Carlton Hotels

Best Employers in Malaysia


  • OCBC Bank
  • S P Setia Bhd
  • FedEx Express
  • AbbVie
  • DHL Express
  • Great Eastern Life Assurance
  • Sunway Building Materials
  • Marriott International
  • American Express
  • First Solar
  • Starbucks

The study involves 3 components:

  • Employee Opinion Survey: which employees answer to indicate their satisfactions and engagement levels.
  • CEO Survey and Interview: a survey and interview with the CEO, to get their thoughts and plans for the business and people.
  • People Inventory: a survey about human resources practices, responded to by the HR department.

These tools are used to select the best employers, based on the following criteria:

best employers in asia 2016

The benefits of performing well on these criteria and many. But essentially, it all boils down to having happy, loyal and high performing employees. This leads to better earnings and profit.

benefits of being a great employer in Asia

Who’s The Happiest Of Them All? (In South East Asia)

happiest at work job asia

The online employment site, Jobstreet, complies what is known as the Happiness Index.

This index looks at how happy people are with their jobs in South East Asian countries, such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, The Philippines and Thailand.

Filipinos have the highest rate of job satisfaction, with 73% stating that they are happy with their jobs. Next in line were Indonesians (71 percent), followed by Thai (61 percent), Vietnamese (60 percent) and people in Hong Kong (57 percent).

Scores for Singaporeans and Malaysians were the lowest, coming in at 48% and 47%, respectively.

Respondents were also asked how happy they are with their jobs on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being extremely unhappy and 10 being extremely happy. Here are the ratings:

  • Philippines: 6.25
  • Indonesia: 6.16
  • Thailand: 5.74
  • Hong Kong: 5.54
  • Vietnam: 5.48
  • Malaysia: 5.22
  • Singapore: 5.09

So what makes people in The Philippines like their job? According to the report, the biggest contributors are good relations with colleagues, convenient location of work and the employer’s reputation. Factors that are the main cause of unhappiness include low salary, lack of benefits and dearth of training/learning opportunities.

In terms of happiness levels for different industries in The Philippines, here are the results (from happiest to least happy):

  • Government (6.66)
  • Education (6.53)
  • Oil (6.49)
  • Retail (6.08)
  • Banking & finance (6.03)
  • Business process outsourcing/call center (5.99)

Rising Wages Are Harming The Economy And Jobs In Singapore

asia singapore export jobs

Wages/salaries in Singapore have continued to increase, even with lower corporate earnings and low growth in productivity.

Part of the reason behind the increase, are recent measures that have been taken to rein-in the number of foreigners working in Singapore. Over the years it has become harder for foreigners to get a job in Singapore, since the eligibility criteria has been raised for employment passes, S passes and also dependent passes.

As per economists at Credit Suisse, these rising costs are making Singapore less competitive as an exporter.

Here are the rankings of countries in Asia, in terms of export competitiveness.

  1. Vietnam
  2. Philippines
  3. China
  4. India
  5. Malaysia
  6. Thailand
  7. South Korea
  8. Singapore
  9. Taiwan
  10. Indonesia

The top performers have been gaining market share, while countries like Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia have been losing out.

As per the report, these findings are a concern for the economy and jobs in Singapore, especially due to:

  • The export driven economy.
  • Slowing down of corporate earning/profit levels.
  • Low levels of consumer confidence.
  • Low productivity growth.

Fancy Working At The Best Performing Companies In Asia Pacific?

best performing companies in asia 2016

In case our report on the best brands in Singapore wasn’t enough for you, how about a ranking of the highest performing blue-chip companies in Asia?

Perhaps one of these titans could be the place where you work next?

The ranking is complied by Forbes, who aim to arrive at a list of corporate stars in the region, through the following process:

  • The starting point is a total of 1,524 public firms, who have yearly revenue of at least $1.7 billion.
  • These firms are then narrowed down to those who are profitable and whose revenue is greater than it was five years back.
  • Companies with more than 50% government ownership are then taken out of the list.
  • Those with debt ratio of greater than 50%, or those who have a listed parent company as the majority owner, are also out of the running.
  • And finally, the remaining few are evaluated based on a slew of financial indicators/measures.

And that gives us the best companies in Asia Pacific!

22 firms from China met the criteria, the most out of all countries in the region. Alibaba was one of the 22 and made it to the list for the first time in 12 years.


Here are the top 10 firms in Asia Pacific


best companies in asia 1

best companies in asia 2

For the entire list of 50 firms who made the cut in 2016, along with other details and analysis, head over to the Forbes website.

A Look At Asian Consumer Confidence Levels For The Next 6 Months

consumer confidence index asia 1h 2016

The most recent Mastercard Index of Consumer Confidence (at the end of H1 2016) shows continued consumer confidence in the majority of Asia Pacific markets.

The Index numbers are compiled through a survey of over 8,500 respondents between the ages of 18 to 64. Those surveyed reside in the 17 Asia Pacific markets that are rated.  They are asked to give a six-month outlook on important economic factors in the region.

Those factors include: the economic conditions, employment prospects, income prospects, the stock market, and quality of life.  Index ratings are calculated on a scale of 0 (most pessimistic) to 100 (most  optimistic), with a rating of 50 considered neutral.


Even with only minor increases in the overall score for Asia Pacific (0.05 points), the index numbers are only slightly below the optimistic level (60 points).

Of the 17 markets ranked, Taiwan’s gain of 16.3 points (to 45.3) raised their numbers from the lowest ranking in the region a year earlier.  Taiwan’s numbers have been on a roller-coaster ride over recent years. The H1 2016 numbers were boosted because of increases in all major factors, with better expectations in stock market movements being the primary contributor.

The Philippines, also showed significantly better results.  Recent elections in the country caused consumer confidence to improve almost 13 points, to 95.2.  The Philippines’ score has not been higher since the inception of the survey in 1995.

Not all of the countries in the region scored as well. Confidence levels for seven of the 17 markets deteriorated since H2 2015.  Indonesia, followed by Hong Kong, and Singapore, showed the largest drop in confidence. Sagging employment prospects were pointed to as the chief reason for the declines.

Eric Schneider, Asia Pacific- Senior Vice President, Mastercard Advisors said, “Overall consumer confidence in Asia Pacific has shown a marginal change with some economies facing headwinds, but the region’s emerging markets including China, India, Vietnam, Myanmar and the Philippines remain resilient with consumers expressing optimism about economic prospects over the next six months. Even as emerging Asia continues to drive the region’s growth, governments and businesses need to ensure stability and strong fundamentals in order to weather future external shocks.”


Highlights for Asia Pacific:

  • Consumer confidence in APAC markets, with a slight increase of 0.05 percent, remains stable. Overall, the region’s rating rose to 59.72 since H2 2015.  Markets ranked below the 50 line, eight of 17, remained the same.
  • Since recording the most extreme deterioration of consumer confidence in H2 2015, Taiwan rebounded strongly with the largest improvement in H1 2016. Other markets with jumps of at least 5 points were the Philippines, India, and Malaysia.
  • Extreme optimism was voiced by consumers in India (97.6), the Philippines (95.2), Vietnam (94.9), and Myanmar (99.8).
  • Significant Index drops were reported in seven of 17 markets. Indonesia (-14.7), Hong Kong (-12.4), and Singapore (-10.7), had the largest declines.  Decreases in Japan (-8.8), and the aforementioned Hong Kong and Singapore, moved their markets into pessimistic (less than 50 rating) from neutral.

Ratings by country

Australia and New Zealand – Both nations remain in neutral territory. A slight drop was reported for Australia (0.1).  In New Zealand, a slight increase of 3.4 points was helped by improved outlook for employment and the stock Market.

China and Bangladesh – China’s confidence rating rose 1.4 points to 76.  The numbers for Bangladesh showed a greater increase, up 4.3 points to 71.6.

Hong Kong – Hong Kong has seen significant decreases for two consecutive surveys. Hong Kong now sits at the bottom of the Index (32.1).  All five components contributed to the decline, with the employment outlook (-20.9) being the biggest factor.

India – India remains in an extremely optimistic territory by posting a 7.5 point gain, which moved their score up to 97.6.

Indonesia – Indonesia lost significant ground, with the largest decrease of all 17 markets (-14.7).  All five components declined, with employment (-26.9) and the economy (-22.5) showing the largest losses.

Japan – This once mighty economic power continues to fall further behind its neighbors. With a drop of 8.8 points, it moves deeper into pessimistic territory at 38.0 points.  A 22 point loss in confidence in the stock market fueled the continuing slide.

Malaysia – All five components improved enough to halt the two-year slide for Malaysia.  Their rating of 41.4 was raised 9.5 points by renewed faith in the stock market (12.4) and quality of life (11.4).

Myanmar and Vietnam – Both nations remained solidly in the extremely optimistic category with ratings of 94.9 and 99.8 respectively.

Singapore – Singapore fell 10.7 points, entering into the pessimistic category with a score of 33.6.  Double-digit losses in quality of life (-14.5), regular income (-12), and employment (-11) signal problems for the nation.

South Korea – Remained firmly in pessimistic territory with a score of 34.2.

Thailand – Their two-year slide (since H1 2014) continues.  A loss of 8.5 points drops them into neutral territory.

H1 2016 Current Status Change from last half
Asia Pacific 59.72 Neutral + 0.05 Stable +
Australia 42.2 Neutral – -0.1 Stable –
China 76.0 Very Optimistic 1.4 Stable +
Hong Kong 32.1 Pessimistic -12.4 Significant Deterioration
India 97.6 Extremely Optimistic 7.5 Some Improvement
Indonesia 61.8 Optimistic -14.7 Significant Deterioration
Japan 38.0 Pessimistic -8.8 Some Deterioration
Korea 34.2 Pessimistic 0.4 Stable +
Malaysia 41.4 Neutral – 9.5 Some Improvement
New Zealand 55.4 Neutral + 3.4 Stable +
Philippines 95.2 Extremely Optimistic 12.9 Significant Improvement
Singapore 33.6 Pessimistic -10.7 Significant Deterioration
Taiwan 45.3 Neutral – 16.3 Significant Improvement
Thailand 58.2 Neutral + -8.5 Some Deterioration
Vietnam 94.9 Extremely Optimistic 0.7 Stable +
Myanmar 99.8 Extremely Optimistic 4.0 Stable +
Bangladesh 71.6 Optimistic 4.3 Stable +
Sri Lanka 38.0 Pessimistic -4.2 Stable –