Singaporeans are increasingly unhappy with their employers - here's why

Singaporeans are increasingly unhappy with their employers - here's why
PHOTO: The Straits Times
W.T.M. Why This Matters
Some of Mercer survey results are encouraging, like how 8 in 10 Singaporeans are proud to work for their company and willing to go the extra mile. But the longer-term trend is worrying as employee engagement here has declined consistently over the last three years, in marked contrast to the upward trend across the globe. .

Employers, you need to do something about this - more people in Singapore are getting fed up working for you.

Their main gripe: Not getting the right opportunities to learn and grow.

A survey covering more than 42,000 employees from various industries conducted last year found only 73 per cent of Singaporeans were satisfied with their companies, which is four percentage points lower than in 2014.

Released yesterday (Aug 15), the Mercer's Singapore Employee Engagement Index indicated that the growing dissatisfaction reflects the consistent decline in employee engagement in Singapore over the last three years.

Mercer, an international consultant for advancing wealth and career, noted a global upswing in employee engagement, while more Singapore workers felt their bosses were not engaging them enough. The local dissatisfaction is nearly 10 per cent below the global average of 82 per cent.

Only 68 per cent of Singaporeans would advocate for their companies as good employers compared to the average of 76 per cent in the Asia Pacific.

Here are reasons for their growing unhappiness

1. NOT GETTING OPPORTUNITIES TO LEARN AND GROW

One in three workers have found it difficult to shine and meet career goals in their organisation.

Twenty per cent said they were not receiving the necessary feedback from immediate supervisors to improve themselves.

2. COMPANY DOESN'T SUPPORT NEW IDEAS

Despite strong government support for innovation, one in three workers felt their company didn't support the development of new ideas.

While 85 per cent of employees were proud of their company's products and services, three in 10 felt their company did not make any innovative efforts to improve them further.

3. BOSSES DON'T LISTEN TO THEIR VIEWS

Workers said they were left out of the decision-making process, which led to their frustration and disapointment.

To worsen matters, one in three felt it's best not to speak up "for fear of negative consequences", according to Mercer.

4. NOT ENOUGH RECOGNITION AND REWARDS

Almost everyone - 95 per cent of employees - want to be rewarded for a wider range of contributions. Who doesn't?

Mercer noted the arrival of digital-savvy millennials in the ageing workforce, which could have caused the fundamental shift in what employees value.

5. BAD MANAGEMENT

Nearly half of Singapore employees said their companies were not properly organised  for them to work effectively together.

They also felt work processes and procedures did not help them meet customer needs efficiently.

Graphic: Mercer

CONCLUSION

The results of the survey have indicated that lack of productivity and innovation are areas of concern for workers too.

In fact, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) pointed out last month (July) that Singapore would continue to face challenges with improving productivity and boosting innovation even though its economy is expected to pick up momentum.

Mr Kulshaan Singh, CEO of Mercer in Singapore, said improving employee engagement would help not just businesses to perform better but also for the economy as a whole.

This view is widely acknowledged, he said, adding that engagement would enable Singapore to optimise its human capital.

"If performance and productivity are a combination of individual talent and engagement, the best way to optimise talent is to ensure it's engaged. Although this seems obvious, many organisations still struggle to build the work environment they need to fully realise engagement in the workplace," he said.

chenj@sph.com.sg

Graphic: Mercer
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