Singaporean employees are as loyal to their bosses as those uncles on Sammy Boy are to their wives—they’re dissatisfied with what they have, and most wouldn’t hesitate to leave for better opportunities. A 2015 report revealed that 34% of finance and accounting employees will leave their current job for more than two years (the global average is 15%).
To put things in perspective, at one of my previous jobs, my entire team of 8 left within two years. This has put many SMEs in a bind, as having to constantly rehire and retrain employees is more costly than many people think.
Still, employees don’t leave jobs on a whim or for no reason. Most of my friends and colleagues who recently changed their jobs did so not before experiencing a lot of unhappiness at their previous jobs. Here are some things employers can do to foster loyalty—without affecting productivity.
Treat employees with respect
They say employees don’t leave companies, they leave bosses—and I have found that to be overwhelmingly true. In my previous jobs, I realised that the turnover rate was never the same throughout the firm. Certain teams under certain bosses experienced extremely high turnover rates and mass exoduses would occur every year or two, while others were able to retain their employees for many years—even though all the employees in the company were placed on the same pay scale.
With labour laws in Singapore offering little employee protection and a work culture that is very respectful of hierarchy, some employers don’t know when to draw the line—like this boss from hell who punched his intern.
While many employers are clueless when they lose hordes of staff year after year, speak to the employees themselves and it’s often clear that unreasonable and disrespectful bosses are often the problem. At many of my previous jobs, my colleagues used to spend their entire lunch hour each and every day complaining about the bosses’ behaviour. This is good news for employers, as a little appreciation and a respectful attitude will put them way ahead of the competition, and can go a long way towards buying their employees’ loyalty and probably even boosting their productivity.
Give employees more perks
Singapore employees are quite price sensitive, and many will leave their jobs if their salary isn’t high enough. But employers who are already paying their staff an equitable salary and can’t afford to increase it can nonetheless entice their employees by giving them more perks.
Some perks like allowing employees to work from home once a week technically do not cost the employer anything, and can go a long way towards fostering employee loyalty. Other perks might cost a bit of money but are still much cheaper than increasing employees’ pay across the board—for instance, letting employees enjoy sponsored yoga classes once a week doesn’t cost the employer that much.
Be hands-on about helping employees progress in their careers
Have you ever worked for a company which you knew didn’t give two hoots about your career and just wanted you to shut up and make money for them? I once worked in a company in which the PMET workers felt they were going nowhere in their career because they spent a large percentage of their time doing administrative work. Eventually all the people around me got fed up and left.
The company clearly made a mistake in its treatment of its employees, as career growth opportunities are on top of Singaporeans’ list of reasons for jumping ship to another job. Employers these days will do a lot more to retain their employees if they work hand in hand with them to help them grow in their careers, rather than just expect them to blend into the furniture and work without seeing any personal progress.
That means that bosses need to make the effort to cultivate a real relationship with their workers, speaking to them individually and trying to find out what they want to achieve in their careers. Fail to understand how you can help your workers grow and they’re going to leave for greener pastures.
How does your current company retain employees? Tell us in the comments!