Positive hiring intentions in Singapore have jumped and companies are focusing on driving productivity and high performance through the retention of key talent, according to the latest Hudson Report: Employment Trends.
The percentage of employers intending to increase staffing levels this quarter has risen 8.7 percentage points (pp) to 44.6%, according to Hudson, a global talent solutions company.
The percentage of employers intending to keep staff steady is down 11.2pp to 46.1%, with slightly more employers intending to decrease headcount this quarter, up 2.5pp to 9.3%.
“The challenging economic conditions in other parts of the world has created a level of caution among local employers. But overall hiring sentiment has improved in Singapore due, in part, to better than expected domestic exports results and positive trends in residential employment numbers,” said Andrew Tomich, Executive General Manager, Singapore.
“The 8.7pp rise in employers intending to increase headcount, combined with the significant 11.2pp drop in employers intending to decrease headcount suggests that many employers have decided to hire rather than hold steady this quarter. The primary driver for this positive hiring sentiment are large multinational companies migrating their key regional corporate functions into Singapore, reflecting their focus on long-term growth within their Asian-based businesses,” he added.
IT&T is the most positive industry with more than half of employers (53.1%) intending to hire more staff, up a substantial 29.8pp. Hiring intentions in Banking & Financial Services are also up significantly (13.9pp to 45.0%), and Manufacturing & Industrial is up slightly to 36.0%.
“Positive hiring intentions in IT&T reflect the shrinking pool of suitable hires and increasing demand for skilled workers. As restrictions on foreign workers further constrict the labour market and demand increases for skilled, ready-to-work hires, this trend is likely to continue,” said Tomich.
“Banking & Financial Services organisations are continuing to offshore support roles, including back office operations and finance-based positions to lower cost locations, although they are continuing to hire in critical areas including risk management and compliance, front line sales and relationship management positions.”
Contracting hiring intentions are also up across the board with IT&T demonstrating the greatest demand (up 19.1pp to 39.1%). This is followed by Banking & Financial Services up 16.9pp to 35.1% and Manufacturing & Industrial, up 4.9pp to 23.4%.
“The Singapore Government continues to list a range of IT&T roles as vital to Singapore’s economic growth driving businesses to fill empty permanent roles with contractors,” said Tomich.
“Generally, the local candidate market continues to resist contract opportunities as a career option and employers will still look to fill critical roles from a more restricted pool of foreign contract workers,” he added
The Report also looked at organisations’ top HR priorities for 2013. More than a third of all employers (35.4%) highlight retaining staff as their organisation’s highest HR priority for 2013, followed by attracting suitable staff (22.3%), enhancing performance/productivity of existing team (13.3%), staff development (11.3%), restructuring/right-sizing (10.7%) and developing leadership capabilities (5.8%).
“Staff retention is Singapore’s top HR priority signalling that employers are mindful of the challenges of securing the right talent, largely due to factors such as foreign labour restrictions, skills shortages and challenges in securing headcount approvals, as well as the business risk and disruption that can come with staff turnover,” said Tomich.
"Staff retention is an outcome of strong employee engagement and is one of the highest drivers of productivity and high performance,” added Tomich. “Our studies have shown that the right people in the right roles is critical to retaining staff so giving due consideration to behavioural and motivational fit is important, as these are far more effective indicators of high performance than technical skills.”
“Employers need to strike the right balance between competing organisational demands. If an organisation has a robust strategy and vision, but not the right leadership, then it is unlikely to succeed. Equally, employers focused on driving productivity without an equal emphasis on staff engagement and development, will likely experience high turnover,” said Tomich.
“Strong leadership to inspire and achieve employee buy-in into the organisation’s goals and ensure employees feel part of the team is essential to both keeping staff and high performance. The above results indicate that employers may not be giving sufficient focus to building leadership capabilities, which could hamper staff retention ambitions.”
“Ultimately, HR and recruitment practices must be continuously assessed to ensure they match the organisation’s strategy to the current economic conditions, and that there is the right capability to succeed,” he concluded.