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Sullen in Singapore: Its workers are the unhappiest in Asia

Office workers cross a road near the Marina Bay Financial Center in Singapore June 18, 2013. REUTERS/Edgar Su
Office workers cross a road near the Marina Bay Financial Center in Singapore June 18, 2013. REUTERS/Edgar Su

By Brian Leonal

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Workers in wealthy Singapore are the unhappiest in Asia and nearly two-thirds would like to quit their jobs in the next year, a regional survey by recruiting firm Randstad Group showed on Wednesday.

Tiny Singapore, a banking and trade center with world-class amenities and high per capita income, has seen unprecedented public discontent in recent years over the rising cost of living and competition from foreign workers.

Randstad's World of Work Report showed that 23 percent of Singaporean workers felt unmotivated and that their skills were not being used effectively, while 64 percent planned to leave their jobs in the next 12 months.

The top reasons for dissatisfaction were an unsuitable corporate culture, difficult bosses and being asked to do more with less.

Indian workers were the happiest in Asia, with about 70 percent feeling challenged, motivated and mentored, according to the survey by the Netherlands-based firm of 14,000 employers and professionals in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, India, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Singaporeans were now putting more emphasis on work/life balance, as shown by the 50 percent who ranked it as one of the main reasons to stay with a company, up from 15 percent in a 2012 survey.

But 55 percent of employers acknowledged their performance in creating flexible working options was average or poor. At 71 percent, the majority of employers also said that managing a workforce of various ages was one of the biggest challenges.

"There is no magic equation for retention but having career development opportunities readily available is a great start," Michael Smith, the country director of Randstad Singapore, said in a statement.

The survey showed Singaporeans were motivated by knowing their contributions matter, but that salary expectations were also important. About 59 percent of Singaporeans had a pay increase in the last year and 67 percent expected a raise of at least 5 percent over the next year.

Singapore's long-ruling government, its popular vote hit in elections by the public anger, has sought to rein in living costs and tighten the labor market for foreigners.

The steps include raising the minimum salary for foreigners seeking an employment pass to S$3,300 ($2,600) per month and obliging employers to advertise job vacancies to Singaporeans for 14 days before an overseas worker can be hired.

(Editing by John O'Callaghan; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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