Look around your office on a Monday morning, and the first adjective that immediately jumps out at you is, “SIAN”. You find yourself in a sea of black faces, all determined to get through the day getting hit by as few arrows as possible.
Singaporean employees are famously disengaged and unhappy at work. People are quick to blame the “strawberry generation” of millennials who they claim aren’t prepared for hardship. Workers, in the other hand, point fingers at exploitative bosses who force them to spend long, unproductive hours in the office and try to milk them for all they’re worth.
In reality, there are just as many crappy employers as there are crappy employees. While employers can send underperforming employees packing, it’s not always as easy to motivate those who remain to do their best work. Here are three things Singaporean bosses don’t typically do, but which would go a long way towards cutting the amount of office time their employees waste on Facebook surfing.
Tell employees they can leave once they’ve finished their work
Ask any non-Singaporean PMET what he’s observed about his Singaporean colleagues, and there’s a 99% chance he’ll mention the fact that they work inefficiently during the day, but hang around the office till late or until the boss leaves.
Blame local bosses’ obsession with face-time for this unproductive behaviour. When employees feel obliged to stay late at the office regardless of their workload, many of them end up working as slowly and inefficiently as possible.
They chat on WhatsApp and surf Facebook as they work, take breaks during which they gossip with their coworkers, and put lots of effort into trying to look busy when the boss walks by. This is obviously bad news when it comes to the quality of work produced, since nobody is actually concentrating on doing a good job.
Conversely, telling employees they can leave once they’re done with their work is a surefire way to make sure everyone gives their work their full concentration. There will no longer be any incentive to dawdle and surf Facebook on the job as all that time-wasting will eat into the employee’s personal time.
Appraise workers based solely on the quality of their work, and don’t accept substandard work
Singaporean workers are known for being good at following instructions, but lousy when it comes to thinking out of the box, being creative and inspired, or going the extra mile.
But who can blame them? Local bosses are notorious for assessing employees not based on the quality of work, but the number of hours they spend in the office and how well they conform to the image of the subservient Singaporean employee who never disagrees with his superiors.
Conversely, if employers take a results-oriented approach to evaluating their employees, they are likely to see higher standards. Evaluate employees based solely on their work and point out how they can improve, instead of harping on the fact that they come in 10 minutes late every day.
By not accepting shoddy work and constantly giving their employees the resources to grow, employers can push workers to engage with their work.
Show appreciation for a job well done
A 2015 report showed that the majority of executives in Singapore feel unappreciated. And if you’ve ever worked for a typical local boss, you’ll know that’s not really surprising. “Thank you” seems to be a dirty word in some companies, and middle management are often more concerned about covering their own asses than being good leaders.
Little do employers realise that showing a little appreciation can really, really motivate your employees, and costs nothing.
If more bosses could put aside their pride and start encouraging their employees to do good work by showing appreciation, they would go a long way towards helping them to actually care about the work they’re doing.
What do you think employers should do to motivate their employees? Share your suggestions in the comments!