According to Mercer’s 2018 Global Talent Trends Study – Unlocking Growth in the Human Age, 82% of employees in Singapore view flexible work options as a core part of their value proposition, as younger employees think about their careers in a different way, to seek purpose over presence at work. With that said, Mercer identifies five global workforce trends for 2018:

  • Permanent flexibility
  • Change@Speed
  • Working with purpose
  • Platform for talent
  • Digital from the inside Out
Permanent flexibility

An emerging concept that allows younger employees to seek for a purpose-driven career, and for women with young families to continue contributing to an organisation, permanent flexibility addresses professionals’ expectations of work arrangements that put them in control of their personal and professional lives.

On that note, 82% of executives view flexible working as a core part of their value proposition. Only 1% of executives consider themselves industry leaders when it comes to enabling flexibility (Singapore having the lowest score in the survey, alongside Hong Kong); while 48% of employees fear that choosing flexible work arrangements will impact their promotion prospects.

“With permanent flexibility, most employers believe they would not be able to monitor contract workers like full-time employees. It also has a strong association with the idea of cost-cutting by using a ‘temporary workforce’. With the younger workforce becoming more vocal around flexibility, we will see an increasing number of companies trying to address this need,” said Vidisha Mehta, Career Solutions Leader - South & East Asia, IMETA at Mercer.

Mercer Permanent Flexi Lead

Change@Speed Mercer stated that how companies prepare for the future of work depends on the degree of disruption anticipated. Those expecting the most disruption are working agility into their model and placing bets on flatter, more networked structures. On that note, 37% are forming more holacratic work teams. Placing power in the hands of individuals makes it critical to build capacity and readiness early.

However, HR leaders in Singapore feel less prepared to reskill existing employees (60% are confident that they can do this well) than to hire from the outside (69%).

As 43% of executives predict at least one in five roles in their organisation will cease to exist in the next five years, being prepared for job displacement and reskilling is critical for organisational survival. Yet, only 38% of companies are increasing access to online learning courses and the same number (38%) are actively rotating talent within the business.

Change of Speed

Working with purpose Citing three-quarters (75%) of thriving employees globally; those who feel fulfilled personally and professionally say their company has a strong sense of purpose. According to Mercer, employees crave movement, learning, and experimentation to feel purpose. If not received, they will look for it elsewhere.

However, 57% of Singaporean employees satisfied in their current job still plan to leave due to a perceived lack of career opportunity. In addition to purpose, the new value proposition includes health and financial wellbeing. Employees on average spend 11 work hours per week worrying about financial matters, yet only 18% of companies have policies in place to address financial health.

Fairness in rewards and succession practices are also top of mind. However, 49% of employees say their company ensures equity in pay and promotion decisions.

“Organisations that help employees worry less about basic security needs and invest more energy on their career aspirations will be rewarded with a workforce that has more pride, passion, and purpose,” said Ilya Bonic, president of Mercer’s Career business.

Mercer Working with Purpose

Platform for talent Given that 92% of executives expect an increase in the competition for talent, organisations realize they must expand their talent ecosystem and update their HR models for a digital age. Two in five companies plan to “borrow” more talent in 2018 and 83% of employees would consider working on a freelance basis.

“Gaining greater access to talent through a broader ecosystem is part of the solution. Companies also need to deploy talent faster and with precision to unlock the potential of their workforce,” said Kate Bravery, global practices leader in Mercer’s Career business.

“Adopting a platform mentality to talent requires a radical mindset shift, embracing the notion that talent can be accessed for the benefit of all rather than ‘owned’ by one manager, department, function, or even organization,” she added.

Executives agree, reporting that improving the ability to move jobs to people and people to jobs is the talent investment that would have the most impact on business performance this year.

Mercer Platform for Talent

Digital from the inside out With only 2% of firms in the country considering themselves a digital organization today - compared to an average of 15% worldwide - companies in Singapore lag on delivering a consumer-grade experience.

While 59% of employees say that state-of-the-art tools are important for success, less than half (41%) say they have the digital tools necessary to do their job and only 38% have digital interactions with HR.

Business leaders are confident in HR’s ability to be a strategic partner in setting the course for the future, with 69% of executives reporting that HR aligns people strategy with the strategic priorities of the business. Bravery commented: “In turbulent times there is a tendency to hold on to the rafters. Intuitively, we know success involves riding the crest of change and this requires a healthy risk appetite and a willingness to break and re-make talent models.”

“When we are living digitally, working flexibly, and being rewarded uniquely, we will unlock growth in the Human Age,” she added.

Mercer digital

On a whole, Mehta said:  “Given the ageing population in Singapore, ensuring a diverse talent pool in the workforce for all life stages is both a business and a societal imperative. Introducing permanent flexibility in workplaces is challenging for organisations in traditional industries such as manufacturing, as it involves offering flexible working hours and contract workforces to project-based freelance staff. Options also include borrowing talent from related sectors, clients and vendors, as well as crowdsourcing options.”

Meanwhile, Bonic commented: “This year we saw palpable excitement from executives about shifting to the new world of work. They are pursuing an agenda of continuous evolution – rather than episodic transformation – to remain competitive.”

“This vision requires a fundamental shift in how we source and deploy talent and rethink the models of talent management – matching right talents for the job to drive insights and decision making,” he continued.

This study shares insights from over 7,600 senior business executives, HR leaders, and employees from 21 industries and 44 countries around the world.

Lead Photo / Mercer

Infographics / Mercer