Flexible working options and employee wellbeing are top priorities for job seekers in Asia as they look to the new era of work, finds the new Uncovering the DNA of the Future Workplace in Asia report by leading recruitment experts Hays, which surveyed over 9,000 working professionals in February and again in September 2020. Respondents across Asia have dropped salary and benefit packages as their top priority and are instead looking at being part of an organisation that values employee wellbeing as not only a crucial element to flexibility, but purpose and connection to their role.
In Singapore, these results are mirrored with remote and flexible working options emerging as a top priority for professionals when seeking a new employer in the post-pandemic future, and employee wellbeing as the definition of purpose in the new era of work.
Remote and flexible working is key
While remote and flexible working is not new to Singapore, many professionals saw their inclinations to this accelerated by the pandemic. A majority 84 percent of respondents said that remote working options became their top priority following the pandemic with a further 76 percent saying flexible hours, and 63 percent saying employee wellbeing programs became more important. However, 41 percent said the option to work in the physical office had become more important to them, showing a mixed opinion on workplace models. While hybrid work models would fit well into this, the high number of respondents who said compressed hours (such as four-day work weeks) became more important to them (50 percent) offers organisations another way to action on these sentiments.
More organisations are remote than flexible
Singapore had the highest number of organisations in Asia that offered flexible working options (47 percent) and remote working options (43 percent) pre-pandemic outbreak, and exhibited a significant rise in the latter post-outbreak (67 percent) – the highest such score in Asia after Hong Kong (69 percent). However currently, a little less than half of organisations offer flexible working hours (49 percent), indicating room for improvement. This is particularly the case since 91 percent of respondents in Singapore said that work-life balance was important/very important to them, with the overwhelming majority saying that flexible working options (84 percent) would contribute to a better work-life balance.
Employee wellbeing builds purpose
After salary or benefit package (54 percent), the majority of respondents in Singapore said they would be willing to comprise on work life balance for a feeling of purpose or connection to their role (43 percent), even though the overwhelming majority (91 percent) said work-life balance was important/very important to them. When asked what constituted meaningful work, the majority of respondents said ‘being part of an organisation that values employee wellbeing’ (77 percent) followed by ‘opportunities to use specialised skills that are unique to you’ (68 percent) and ‘building relationships with management and colleagues’ (66 percent).
In a region-wide trend, employee wellbeing is at the forefront of defining meaningful work, a rising sentiment that will likely be the hallmark of a workplace of the future. And while the number of organisations that offer this in Singapore (42 percent) is the highest in Asia after China (51 percent), there is still room for improvement as this accounts for less than half of the total. On the other hand, the opportunities for employees to use specialised skills that are unique to them is the lowest in the region after Hong Kong (33 percent). Overall, it appears that workplaces could be doing far more in their efforts to motivate their employees through purpose and meaning, considering 91 percent said purpose or meaning played an important/very important role in motivating their performance.
Grant Torrens, Regional Director for Hays Singapore commented, “Flexible working options are a top priority for respondents in Singapore, as is employee wellbeing. The majority of respondents also said that flexibility would contribute to better work life balance, and named flexible working hours, remote working and compressed work weeks as ways of getting there. A forward-thinking workplace would look into implementing remote and flexible ways of working for the long-term as a way to not only appease but truly look after the wellbeing of their staff.”