For Singapore CFOs, Employee Motivation is Key to Improved Performance

Singapore’s top finance leaders believe better motivation of their staff is the key to raising the productivity of their teams, according to new research by recruitment firm Robert Half and the Institute of Singapore Charted Accountants (ISCA). 

When asked about their future priorities, 54 percent of Singapore CFOs rate trying to motivate their staff as being either “very important” or “important”, making this their most common productivity strategy.  The next most popular initiative is to improve staff evaluation (49 percent) followed by better training for employees (40 percent).

Only 22 percent will undertake structural changes such as streamlining the company’s business processes to become more efficient, while just 25 percent will adopt the use of better technology.

Compared to their regional counterparts in Hong Kong, Japan and Shanghai, Singapore CFOs are among the most likely to choose motivation and the least likely to choose innovation in order to raise productivity.

“While technology adoption is acknowledged to be a key productivity driver, the findings also reflect finance leaders’ beliefs that  a highly motivated and well-trained workforce go hand in hand with digital tools and streamlined processes in improving productivity," says Lee Fook Chiew, Chief Executive Officer of ISCA.

Stella Tang, Managing Director of Robert Half Singapore said CFOs see unlocking the potential of their employees as the key to improved performance.

“Singapore finance leaders have a preference for motivation over innovation.  That’s why the top three productivity strategies of Singapore CFOs are all about people management. Motivation, evaluation and training of employees will be the focus of financeleaders in 2015.”

“While a motivated team is essential for improving performance, Singapore CFOs must not lose sight of the importance of other innovative reforms.  Singapore finance and accounting teams risk falling behind their regional counterparts if they do not improve their processes embrace technology and explore outsourcing,” Tang said.

“For example, a CFO in Shanghai is three times more likely to be engaged in business process reform than a Singapore CFO, and more than twice as likely to be engaged in building their team’s skills through training,” Tang added.

Shanghai CFOs appear the most focussed on productivity improvements with effort being placed into nearly every option available to them.

While much of this effort is required to catch up to the levels of productivity found in other more developed markets, the Chinese finance and accounting sector seems determined to make up the lost ground as quickly as possible.

The top choice for Shanghai CFOs is to invest in employee training and development (72 percent), followed by improving their staff evaluation performance (65 percent). 

Shanghai CFOs are significantly more likely to pursue structural reforms than their Singapore counterparts, including streamlining processes (62 percent versus 22 percent) and outsourcing (60 percent versus 22 percent).

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