Design jobs with millennial employee in mind: Minister

Firms need to design jobs with the employee in mind - especially the millennial employee - said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat yesterday.

Addressing a Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) forum, he stressed the importance of tapping the idealism of the millennial workforce - the new generation of employees born in the 1990s - for the future economy.

He said: "They have grown up in a First World Singapore and many see jobs as more than a way to pay their bills, as a purpose or a life mission."

He added that in the face of slowing workforce growth, programmes such as the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn scheme are meant to help companies redesign jobs to maximise workers' opportunities.

Earn and Learn programmes attach fresh graduates to firms where they can gain relevant hands-on experience while furthering their studies at the same time.

Mr Heng said: "Students look towards organisations that have plans to develop them. They do not want dead-end jobs."

Traits of a millennial

  • Family-centric - As most of the Millennials grew up seeing their parents working long hours with little family time, Millennials are naturally averse to long working hours and in favour of jobs that have a work-life balance.
  • Achievement-oriented - Generation Y employees tend to be confident and ambitious, and have high expectations of themselves and their employers.
  • Team-oriented - Most of the Millennials prefer working in teams to working individually, especially now that most educational institutions place more emphasis on team projects and assignments.
  • Tech-Savvy - Millennials grew up with technology and rely on it heavily to go about doing their work or their everyday lives. The majority of them, if not all, have some form of social media and are active on it.
  • Attention-craving - Generally, Generation Y people like receiving feedback and guidance. By being kept in the loop about current affairs, they feel recognised.

However, he added: "Even organisations that conscientiously train and develop people may be at risk if their business models do not keep up with change.

"While it is important to train staff on managing current tasks well, it is equally important for employers to think of developing capabilities to innovate and adapt business models to changing trends. People development and corporate development need to go hand in hand."

Over 700 chief executives, senior management representatives and human resource professionals attended the SNEF BeyondSG50 forum, held at the Capitol Theatre to discuss how companies can prepare themselves for the future economy.

Business leaders at the forum said Mr Heng's message about people development and motivating the millennial workforce resonated with them. Ms Susan Chong, chief executive of sustainable packaging company Greenpac, said: "Millennials are very different and we have to align with their ways in order to attract and retain them."

For instance, she said, they are highly dependent on technology and enjoy mobility, so firms should support their ability to work on the go by paying for their data roaming.

Mr Douglas Foo, chairman of sushi chain Sakae Holdings, said employers could consider offering more part-time work arrangements.

He said: "Employers have to have that flexibility. But at the same time, employees have to continue playing their part in contributing."

Asia's 10 richest millennials

  • 10. Zhu Yufeng: Net worth: US$660 million (S$902 million) Country of origin: Hong Kong Source of wealth: Inheritance
  • 9. Zhang Kangli: Net worth: US$710 million Country of origin: China Source of wealth: Inheritance
  • 8. John Paul Joy Alukkas: Net worth: US$820 million Country of origin: India Source of wealth: Inheritance
  • 7. Yan Wu: Net worth: US$860 million Country of origin: China Source of wealth: Inheritance
  • 6. Ou Chen (Leo Chen): Net worth: US$1.1 billion Country of origin: China Source of wealth: Self-made
  • 5. Lin Qi: Net worth: US$2.2 billion Country of origin: China Source of wealth: Self-made
  • 4. He Zhitao: Net worth: US$2.7 billion Country of origin: China Source of wealth: Self-made
  • 3. Fuli Zong (Kelly Zong): Net worth: US$3 billion Source of wealth: Inheritance Country of origin: China
  • 2. Cheng Chi Kong (Adrian Cheng): Net worth: US$4.4 billion Source of wealth: Inheritance Country of origin: Hong Kong
  • 1. Yang Huiyan: Net worth: US$6.1 billion Source of wealth: Inheritance Country of origin: China

This article was first published on January 15, 2016.
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