Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) form a very significant part of Singapore’s economy. They contribute more than 50 percent of economic output and 70 percent of the workforce.
However, to maintain a competitive business advantage, drive growth and increase productivity, SMEs need to understand the drivers to attract, engage and retain talent. Evidence suggests that this is proving to be a big challenge for most SMEs in Singapore. This is primarily because SMEs have never invested in developing a focused employee engagement programme or had to consider the factors to increasing employee engagement. If you ask a young professional where they want to work, they would usually cite multinationals or other big local organisations.
What do Best Employers in Singapore do?
According the Aon Hewitt’s research, Best Employers share four common characteristics defined as high employee engagement, a unique and compelling employer brand, effective and engaging leaders and a high performance culture in the organisation. High scores in these four pillars are what differentiate Best Employers from the rest.
The findings from Aon Hewitt’s Best Employer Singapore 2015 study were quite startling on these counts for the SME category.
Employee engagement outcomes (represented, as per the Aon Hewitt engagement model given below, by how employees SAY great things about their employer, are willing to STAY, and STRIVE to support the company's success) represent a daily challenge for SMEs. Almost half of their employees are currently looking to leave their organisation.
As far as unique employer brand is concerned, almost 40% of employees did not understand or relate to what their employer brand stood for. On effective leadership and performance culture, the scores were around 50% showing that practically half of the employees did not believe there was an effective and engaging leadership or a high performance culture in their organisation (vs. 80% of employees at Best Employers).
The search for talent is a constant battle. More young people today are pondering whether there is real value in working for a smaller company. One of the drivers to choose an SME employer and value proposition would be the view that there is greater opportunity to take on roles and functions that will help them climb the corporate ladder faster.
Critical factors that young talent rate highly include being able to have fun at work, career and learning opportunities and empowerment. Given their relatively smaller size and more hands-on approach, SMEs are better placed to work toward achieving these attributes.
Building an Employer Brand
To become an employer of choice, SMEs need to develop their unique value proposition so that it stands out from the forest of SMEs, and differentiate them from the bigger companies.
SMEs can begin their journey towards becoming a Best Employer, enhancing their attractiveness as an employer, attracting and motivating the right talent and increasing productivity by acting on the right factors. The journey starts with awareness and a business vision that requires putting in place the building blocks.
This baseline consists of firstly, benchmarking themselves against the best practices in their sector and secondly, implementing an action agenda that is tailored to their employees’ needs and expectations while serving their business growth vision. Thirdly, the employer needs to communicate consistently and effectively about their initiatives and the expected outcomes. The last stage would be putting in place relevant tools and processes that deliver on the employer promise and live up to the expectations of the employees.
Start a conversation with us
For further information on participating in Aon Hewitt's Best Employers Programme or to know more about specific HR interventions to increase employee engagement, get in touch with us today.