79% of Singaporean SME employees require more support: survey

Photo by Sora Shimazaki

Employees of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are progressively adapting to the new ways of working amidst the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic – however, to keep pace with these changes, employers must better support and safeguard employee wellbeing as we move into 2021.

This is according to Employment Hero’s 2021 Employment & Recruitment Trends for Singapore SMEs report, based on an analysis of over 500 Singaporean respondents employed by SMEs (up to 200 employees).

The survey was conducted in November 2020 and aimed to better understand what employees are looking for, and the different employment factors that will impact how SMEs in Singapore hire and retain talent in 2021. 

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While SME employees agree their employers did provide some support by way of home-based office support and team and culture bonding, overall, 79% of Singaporeans said they still need more support from employers to achieve their 2021 career goals.

Ultimately, much of this discontent comes down to a lack of both mental health support (36%) and financial support (33%).

As such, employees who don’t feel this support being provided could be tempted to switch jobs in 2021. The majority (62%) of employees surveyed identified career growth as the top motivator that will lead them to switch jobs – a sentiment that ranked highest (71%) amongst the Millennials (25-34 year olds).

For entry-level talent specifically, better working conditions (62%) and flexible working arrangements (62%) were identified as motivators for switching jobs, however the top motivator is not having a salary increment (30%).

Employees are being realistic in anticipating the changes that may arise in 2021 due to remote working and the wide adoption of digital processes and platforms. Sixty-nine percent of employees indicated that they felt prepared for these changes, but when looking at different demographics, entry-level employees felt unsure or unprepared (24%) about the upcoming changes in their organisation, as compared to the overall respondents who said they felt unsure (20%) or not ready (10%).

Amongst the anticipated changes, Millennials were more likely to believe they will have to work additional hours with no extra pay (42%). But on a more positive note, the same group also believed they will be allowed flexible working (38%) or to continue remote working (36%) in 2021.

Flexible working arrangements have increasingly gained traction in Singapore and around the world, so it comes as no surprise that 48% of respondents have indicated additional support from employers to sustain flexible working arrangements in 2021. This is followed by more financial support (41%) to meet the rising cost of living and working amidst the ongoing volatility.

Work-life balance continues to remain a key component of employee satisfaction. Fifty one percent employees agree this should be the most important value that employers should support in the coming year. This sentiment was much higher for entry level employees (64%) who want work-life balance to be a key priority for employers in 2021.

For women employees, in particular, remote work has emerged as a mixed blessing as they juggle both home and work responsibilities. The survey shows more women are leading the charter for flexible work arrangements, with 50% respondents indicating it as a top priority for 2021.

“Blended working models are no longer perceived as a novelty but rather a necessity for SME talent in Singapore. The changing nature of work is ultimately leading to new expectations and demands from employees, and employers must remain cognisant of their needs,” said Ben Thompson, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of Employment Hero. 

“While technological support to enable ongoing remote working is necessary, this must be improved in conjunction with plenty of support and tools to ensure the safety of everyone’s mental health going forward,” he concluded.