Talent Management Trends: Singapore

Towers Watson research into the state of HR functions and the talent landscape in Singapore sheds light on the talent management challenges faced by companies here. On one hand, companies are pursuing their growth agendas and looking to enhance workforce productivity. On the other, the workforce itself is going through an ‘inner evolution’, and seeking the right employment deal from employers. Furthermore, employee loyalty is eroding and demographic shifts are causing mismatches in the demand and supply of labour. Based on our extensive research and conversations with leading companies in Singapore, we see five key trends in the marketplace.

  1. Employee Engagement Is Still Lagging: According to Towers Watson’s 2014 Global Workforce Study, only about 35% of employees in Singapore are highly engaged, which is lower than the global level of 40%. Worryingly, almost the same proportion, 33%, are disengaged. The key drivers of employee engagement in Singapore are: Goals & Objectives (understanding of business goals and line of sight), Leadership, Performance Management, Organisational Image and Empowerment. At the same time, employees are becoming more mobile, changing jobs as opportunities arise. Our 2014 Talent Management & Rewards Study shows that almost three-fifths of the companies here report slight to significant increases in hiring activity.
  2. More Rigour in Talent Decisions: More than three-quarters (78%) of companies in Singapore use line manager assessments as a tool to identify high-potential employees. A few others use 360-degree surveys or manager panels to make these decisions. As the business demands better returns from talent investments, HR leaders are recognising the importance of using proven psychometric tools for selection and development of high-potential employees. Many of these tools, like Towers Watson’s Saville Assessment Solutions, have much better validity in predicting the potential of an employee.
  3. Upskilling the Workforce: The nature of work is changing every day because of technology, organisational restructurings, mergers & acquisitions and the big push for productivity improvement. With the work, the worker needs to evolve too. Almost six in 10 (59%) companies in Singapore have defined an organisation-wide core competency model, and 36% have also invested in functional/technical competency models. When they are well-defined with an eye on the future, these models help to articulate what competencies are crucial for continued business success. At the same time, employees get clarity on how they need to develop to meet their career objectives.
  4. The Performance Management Debate: The issue of Performance Management continues to occupy the minds of HR and business leaders alike. A number of companies around the world have adopted a “ratingless” approach and many others are carefully considering their next steps. Companies need to think through this issue deeply and factors such as culture, managerial capital, pay-for-performance etc., need to be considered while making changes to the performance management approach. Our data suggests that managerial capital is a very important factor in the effectiveness of performance management. However, 40% or less employers in Singapore are satisfied with their managers on areas such as goal-setting, coaching, providing performance feedback and engaging employees in career development conversations. Employees themselves seem to confirm this, with 48% expressing clarity on goals and only 37% stating that managers coach them to improve performance.
  5. Accelerating Workforce Analytics & Planning: Most HR leaders recognise the power of evidence-based HR. Given the demographic shifts in the economy and tight labour markets, more companies are considering investing in workforce analytics and workforce planning. Almost two in five (39%) companies in Singapore are leveraging technology for analytics and reporting, and a similar percentage are looking at investing in these capabilities in the next 1-2 years. Our Global Talent 2021 study, conducted together with Oxford Economics, indicates that Singapore will see an average of 0.6% annual increase in the deficit of talent over the next few years. As a result, companies are identifying the pivotal jobs and estimating the demand and supply of talent to build strategic workforce plans.

I invite you for a discussion on these trends and more. Feel free to reach out to me, so we can learn more from our collective experiences.

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