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A worrying disconnect between employers and staff in Singapore: survey

Employers in Singapore are facing a worrying disconnect from their staff on the various issues including pay equity, Towers Watson, a global professional services company, said.

EMPLOYERS in Singapore are facing a worrying disconnect from their staff on the various issues including pay equity, Towers Watson, a global professional services company, said.

Just 39 per cent of Singaporeans believe they are paid fairly when compared to people from other companies in similar positions - significantly lower than the regional average of 51 per cent.

According to The 2014 Global Workforce Study - a survey of 32,000 employees, including 1,000 in Singapore of varying levels and demographics - employee engagement and retention levels in Singapore continue to be a challenge.

The study, which captures the views of employees and offers companies insights into what shapes employee behaviour, revealed that just 35 per cent of Singapore employees are highly engaged, compared to 40 per cent globally. About 52 per cent are either completely disengaged or detached, compared to 41 per cent of their global counterparts.

Hiring sentiment is not a concern in Singapore, with more than half of employers admitting their desire to bring new staff on board had increased. This is well above the regional and global levels of 48 per cent.

But it pays to heed that leadership and management drivers were revealed to be of limited importance in attracting new employees, even though they proved vital in both engagement and retention.

While employers listed career advancement ahead of salary as the key driver of attraction, employees differed by listing it as the fourth factor after salary, job security and learning and development.

There was further disconnect around retention drivers, with employers citing short-term incentives and challenging work as key factors but employees instead indicating that job security and trust in leadership were more important. When broken down by age, the factors that were most important in both attraction and retention across all age groups were base pay, learning and development opportunities, and job security.

However, employees under 30 years of age also cited challenging work and vacation time as significant drivers for joining an organisation, those aged between 30 and 39 cited flexible work arrangements, and those aged between 40 and 49 focused on health and wellness benefits and short-term incentives. Short-term incentives were also a significant retention driver for those under the age of 30.

As many as 34 per cent of Singapore employees expect to leave their organisations within two years, compared to the global average of 26 per cent. Just 28 per cent suggested they expected to stay - significantly less than the global rate of 46 per cent.

"The high level of Singapore employees responding that they are considering leaving their current employers is certainly a worrying trend for companies here. Our research reveals that highly-engaged employees are more than three times likely to stay with their employers, which emphasises the importance that organisations need to place on sustainable engagement programmes," Amrita Prasad, Practice Leader of Organisational Surveys & Insights in Singapore for Towers Watson, said.

In Singapore, almost half of the employees surveyed feel their leaders are effective, which is almost in line with the global average. However, managerial effectiveness is much lower, with just 51 per cent of the respondents reporting effective managers compared to the global average of 61 per cent.

Some 53 per cent of companies felt their managers were effective in fairly reflecting overall performance in an employee's final performance rating. But only 37 per cent of employees agreed. Some 53 per cent of employers said their managers were effective in differentiating between high and low performers compared to just 46 per cent of employees.

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