The current workforce characteristics in Singapore as well as other areas of the globe are changing. The workforce is dominated by three generational cohorts which include the baby boomers, generation Y and the millennials. Each of these generations has its unique characteristics which make it difficult for employers to manage. Most of the baby boomers are retiring, and more millennials are getting into the workforce in Singapore. They are often deemed to not portray a certain employment loyalty, very tech dependent which drives most of their personal and work life and demand more flexibility from the employers. Additionally, this generation also believes in high and quality performance as a crucial aspect of an employee. Therefore, this becomes the top challenge that causes SMEs to struggle in the hiring process.
Other Hiring Challenges Faced by SMEs
There are other challenges that SMEs in Singapore face in their hiring process aside from managing the millennials, the tightening law on the number of foreign workers by MOM is often mentioned to be one, especially in certain industries which rely heavily on the foreign workers. SMEs are also perceived as organizations that offer poorer remuneration and standard benefits resulting in more talents shying away from us.
Additionally, many assumes that SMEs are less likely to invest in enhancing employee capability which is a priority for the talents.
Singapore is also experiencing a moment of local workforce stagnation which is affecting SMEs negatively. This situation is expected to continue in the future. In fact, the local workforce growth is heading for stagnation over the next 10 years according to MOM. Finally, it is very rare for SMEs to have a certain branding capability, most of us rarely have an exciting page about work life to be listed on our website which acts as a selling point in hiring.
The 8 Strategies
1. Leverage on the Gig economy
We have a significant number of millennials across the globe who is interested in freelance jobs and prefers to be their own boss. 34% of the US workforce in 2016 was freelancers and projections show that by 2020 the figure will jump to 43% (according to due.com). Singapore Gig economy on the other hand is made up of 9% resident employment. Offering freelancers flexibility for certain projects instead of a full time commitment will help you to get the required task done and save you from the risk of high overhead cost especially for the specialized job that could work in silo.
2. Treat The Talent War Like A War
Human resource managers are currently in a competition to bring to their companies talented employees which are rare to find. Most of the potential employees will first review the company reputation before accepting any offer. This is in a bid to know whether that firm is culturally conducive, mission-oriented, or has high levels of retention. In the era of internet, all this information is available out there. 92% of the people surveyed review a company’s reputation before accepting a job (according to Randstad Q3 2015 Workmonitor).
Therefore, a company must do a good job in communicating the company’s mission, vision and culture to their teams. Owners of SMEs should treat the talent war like a war and are recommended to keep a lookout for talents and be involved in the recruiting process; because no one can sell the company’s story better than the owner himself/herself. This will also convince the interviewees on how they will fit into the team.
There is a saying that a good start is half way to success. Make sure there is a successful on-boarding program that helps individual to connect their roles to the company’s mission and vision right from the start.
3. Promote Flexibility in the Work Place.
Work life harmony and flexibility are both crucial for potential employees when deciding an offer from company. Promoting work life harmony will certainly be helpful and it is well known that happy employees are more productive at their job. It should offers employees to include staggered hours, permanent parttime roles and allowing employees to work remotely.
Other useful considerations include creating environments for informal meetups, staff redeployment and upskilled, removing unnecessary red tap and promoting casual dress code on certain days.
4. Continuous Feedback and 360 Review
This generational cohort wants to see their boss as a coach who they will work together with to set and manage their objectives. Instead of only carrying out annual or bi-annual performance review, employers should schedule ongoing coaching sessions and 360-degree review to provide feedback, aid development and help individuals meet company objectives. The three reviews will help employees improve motivation, reduce undesirable behaviors and reduce turnover. Coaching should be a constant and frequent job performance review to keep the employees informed of the areas which need improvement. Every coaching interaction should include the creation of new action plans or follow up on existing ones. It is important to not tie the 360-degree review to any rewards; otherwise employees might fear upsetting the bonuses of their peer. Leveraging on Talent Management Software which supports continuous feedback and peer review will help to reduce all the administrative workload and overcome the communication hiccups.
5. Be Engaged in People Development
Employees highly value professional and career development. They are therefore attracted to companies that offer the right training program as they know it’ll enrich their CV in the future.
With government’s initiatives in Training and Development, programs offered through SkillsConnect will also assist SMEs who are committed to develop the people. Companies that are winning the talent war are giving their people the right development opportunities at the right time and a clear path forward to achieve their career aspiration.
6. Don’t Sweat Over the Small Stuff
Technology which offers productivity improvement is readily available now. The adoption of this will reflect on how a company is being portrayed, companies that still run on manual and conservative processes are considered as less attractive by the Millennial. Cloud solution with self service capabilities are also in line with the expectations of a younger generation as they tech-dependent and would want the information conveniently available to them. A more productive HR team can be also achieved when you automate the administrative tasks through a system. This also applies to the other areas within your company, i.e adoption of a proper HRMS System, Time & Attendance system, POS System or even CRM.
Companies should also consider outsourcing the less critical and mundane works. Take for instance, payroll outsourcing, social media marketing, and hosting services.
Technology and outsourcing will free your resources and help them focus on higher value added tasks required to grow the business.
7. Appreciate and Reward Your Team
Transparency is recommended as it will make employees feel more connected with the company. A clear career path as well as rewards will be beneficial as the team will then feel valued. This will in turn help you to achieve a better retention rate which eventually results in an improvement the overall company’s performance.
To promote employees taking the initiative at work, employers should tolerate reasonable mistakes. Employers may also implement SPOTawards to encourage the right behaviors from the employees and the service award to make employees feel valued. Service award contrary to what some might believe, is still relevant after all these years.
8. Leverage on Grants to Employ PMETs Workforce
Singapore promotes the development, competitiveness, inclusiveness, and employability of all levels of the workforce. Through this initiative, there are certain programs such as PCP (Professional Conversion Program) and CSP (Career Support Programme) that SMEs can leverage on to help fund the salary of workers. This is also in line to support Singaporeans to meet their career aspirations, take on quality jobs at different stages of life, and help SMEs be more competitive.