The KellyOCG’s 2021 Global Workforce Agility Report paints a grim picture of the state of business leadership in Singapore. While the majority of Singapore business leaders acknowledge the dramatic change brought about by the pandemic, many are unprepared for how to manage talent, use technology and support employees in this new environment.
“Singapore has responded well to the pandemic by up- or reskilling permanent talent to face new challenges. But, while it’s clear that leaders understand how their talent strategy links to tangible business outcomes, they need to focus more on holistic talent management to address changing demands of employees and they need to prioritise leading-edge technologies for a resilient and agile workforce,” says Peter Hamilton, vice president & regional director, APAC, at KellyOCG.
Among the 13 countries surveyed by KellyOCG in the global report, Singapore boasts the highest proportion of executives planning to permanently offer employees hybrid and remote work options, even when the pandemic ends. Singapore also excels in providing training for employees to take on new skills that have become more essential in the past year.
SG leaders mostly underperform against APAC peers
72% of executives in Singapore vs 59% globally and 58% in APAC say their businesses will adopt hybrid work models post-pandemic; and 36% plan to make remote work a permanent option – compared to 25% globally and 22% in APAC.
63% of executives in Singapore acknowledge the value of a hybrid work model to meet business goals effectively, and 61% (compared to 47% globally and 54% in APAC) have been providing training and upskilling for employees.
The survey revealed that Singapore executives lag behind global counterparts in supporting employees by alleviating the impact of the pandemic:
- 43% of Singapore executives, compared to 45% globally and 50% in APAC, are offering flexible work hours in addition to hybrid work arrangements
- 33% of organisations are providing physical health support and only 36% are providing mental health support, compared to 43% and 46% in APAC respectively.
- 18% are providing additional paid time off, behind global and APAC averages of 23% and 24% respectively.
- 24% are re-evaluating employees personal targets to ensure they are achievable given the changes brought about by the pandemic – the lowest proportion in APAC, and the second-lowest globally just above the Netherlands (18%).
Use of technology
Amidst the tremendous acceleration in technology adoption, a minority of organisations globally are using leading-edge technologies for workforce planning and management, the survey found.
In Singapore, business leaders are facing challenges in deciding what leading-edge technologies is right for their business. While 82% of executives in Singapore say technology is critical for long-term business success, 66% admit they are overwhelmed by the volume of available workforce technologies and not confident in choosing the right ones for their business.
Best practice in responding to pandemic
The global KellyOCG study identified a group of leading organizations dubbed the ‘Vanguards’ – who report employee wellbeing and productivity have significantly improved during the pandemic, alongside revenue growth over the past three years.
The data uncovered four key dynamics of the Vanguards’ response to the pandemic that is helping them build a more agile and resilient workforce and a more profitable business:
Amplify workforce fluidity. They are more likely to have a comprehensive strategy for bridging skills gaps by employing new talent, bringing on contingent labour (62%), and implementing re-skilling initiatives (52%).
Build a better employee experience. Nine of ten (91%) Vanguards say that improving the employee experience is as high a business priority as improving the customer experience.
Improve Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). While many still only pay lip service to DEI programs, Vanguards are around twice as likely as Laggards (67% vs 35%) to have fully developed DEI strategies in place for both permanent and contingent talent.
Understand that adopting leading-edge technologies is critical to managing a workforce in flux. Many have begun implementing new technologies to alleviate workload pressure and enhance efficiency (64% vs. 48% of Laggards), and nearly half are using technology to gain visibility of workforce utilization and improve the recruiting process.
Hamilton said the research shows a majority of executives agree that talent has never been more important as a source of competitive advantage, yet they are ill-prepared to manage and support that talent.
“The Vanguards provide a roadmap on key actions that will give businesses the edge they need to succeed in an increasingly competitive and fast-changing marketplace – ensuring their workforce is fit for a future in flux,” explained KellyOCG president Tammy Browning.