Singapore’s SMEs

Just over three in five (62%) of Singapore SMEs surveyed say more staff are resigning now compared to a year ago.

First coined in 2021 in the United States, the 'Great Resignation' implies a global workforce trend where millions of employees are voluntarily leaving their jobs, having borne the worst of the pandemic with their current employers. It seems what is typically being seeing as a Western phenomenon is now hitting close to home, whereby Singapore’s SMEs are said to be experiencing the Great Resignation much more acutely than the rest of Asia Pacific and Japan.

Just over three in five (62%) of Singapore SMEs surveyed say more staff are resigning now compared to a year ago. This compares to just 40% of respondents in the rest of APJ who admit facing more resignations today than a year ago.

Evidently, this is having a real impact on businesses, where overall respondents are saying:

  • they're finding it difficult to hire or find replacements compared to a year ago - 65%
  • they see few or no qualified applicants when they try to hire - 52%
  • they aren’t finding it easy to deal with the Great Resignation - 49%.

This data is courtesy a new study by SAP SE, titled Transformational Talent: The impact of the Great Resignation on Digital Transformation in APJ’s SMEs, which commissioned Dynata to survey 1,363 small and medium business owners and decision-makers (including 100 in Singapore) across eight markets in the region (Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand). 

How are Singapore's SMEs coping with this challenge?

Unlike other APJ markets (such as Indonesia and India) which have prioritised financial incentives, the data showed Singapore's are leaning more towards providing flexibility and training to stave off the Great Resignation.

As such, the following are the most-used HR strategies by Singapore SMEs to prevent employees resigning in large numbers:

  • 40% provide flexibility in work arrangements,
  • 35% provide upskilling opportunities,
  • 31% allow remote working,
  • 29% are improving their financial incentives, 
  • 29% provide healthcare facilities. 

Paul Marriott, President, SAP Asia Pacific and Japan, elaborated on the insights: "The Great Resignation has often been misconstrued as employees leaving to pursue their purpose. That’s not the whole story.

"Talent requires the right remuneration, flexibility, and a clearly communicated progression journey. Prioritising upskilling and career progression, and supporting it with access to the right technology and partners is proven to be a win-win for employees and for SMEs."

What else is keeping Singapore's SMEs up at night?

Two years on from the onset of the pandemic, SMEs have adapted. But things continue to change quickly, even from just a year ago. Three in five (61%) said costs and expenditure had increased in the past year. However, on the bright side, just over half (52%) also said their business revenues were better last year than in the first year of the pandemic.

Overall, a majority (75%) of SMEs surveyed in Singapore said they are either neutral or highly resilient in dealing with the challenges of the pandemic. That has led to 75% noting they are moderately, very, or extremely optimistic about growth over the next 12 months. Seeing this, the nation's SMEs list tech as key to drive growth, so much so that only respondents from India rank digital transformation as a strategic priority as highly as SMEs in Singapore.

This is how Singapore SMEs' strategic priorities over the next 12 months compare to the wider APJ region:

  • Digital transformation - 17% in SG vs 10% in APJ
  • Increasing sales revenues - 14% in SG vs 15% in APJ
  • Acquiring new customers and businesses - 13% in SG vs 13% in APJ
  • Gaining market share - 10% in SG vs 7% in APJ
  • Building organisational resilience - 8% in SG vs 7% in APJ

Image / Provided by SAP SE

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