Polls: 7 in 10 seek new jobs, but hiring is slowing

People at a job fair held at the Employment and Employability Institute in Jurong East. The Hudson report said bad bosses and a desire for higher pay are two main factors pushing workers to look for new jobs. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG
People at a job fair held at the Employment and Employability Institute in Jurong East. The Hudson report said bad bosses and a desire for higher pay are two main factors pushing workers to look for new jobs. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Seven in 10 workers in Singapore are looking for a new job but companies are cutting back on their hiring, according to two surveys.

Bad bosses and a desire for higher pay are two main factors pushing workers to look for new jobs, said a report by human resources consultancy Hudson.

The report, released yesterday, was based on interviews with 1,292 workers and 477 employers at the end of last year.

It said that of the more than 900 workers who may quit, almost 90 per cent are expected to resign within a year. And of the job seekers, less than one-third are actively going for job interviews while the others are passively waiting for a better job to come along.

As workers go job-hunting, employers are not rolling out the red carpet.

Only two in five of the firms polled said they are hiring in the next three months, a 4.3 per cent decline from three months ago. This is the second quarter in a row that shows hiring sentiments have weakened, said Hudson.

Official preliminary figures released last week show the economy is slowing. It shrank 2.7 per cent in the final quarter of last year compared with the preceding quarter, although it grew 4.4 per cent when compared with the same period a year ago.

The brightest spot for job seekers is the banking and financial services sector. It is the only one of the five key sectors Hudson surveyed that shows a rise in the number of firms hiring.

Half of the banks and financial institutions said they are raising their headcount, an increase of 7.4 per cent from three months ago. "This reflects an increase in confidence in the Singapore banking sector, with a busy lending and investment environment," said Mr Andrew Tomich, executive general manager of Hudson Singapore.

Meanwhile, a separate survey on hiring outlook for the first six months of this year also shows fewer companies are recruiting. The survey, also released yesterday, is by home-grown HR consultancy firm Achieve Group.

It found that companies in seven of the nine sectors polled plan to retrench staff. The sectors include industrial manufacturing, engineering, shipping, logistics and retail.

Even in the financial services sector, around 4 per cent of companies are planning to reduce their headcount, said Achieve Group.

Although the financial services sector is doing well, banks will strive to keep headcount flat, said Mr George McFerran, Asia-Pacific managing director of eFinancialCareers. If they hire, it will be in selective areas such as private banking, technology or risk compliance, he added.

The tight labour market will make it difficult for companies to keep their staff, said Mr Kurt Wee, president of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises. "It will worsen the problem of poaching."

But the onus is on employers to retain their staff, said Singapore Human Resources Institute president Erman Tan.

"Seven in 10 (looking for jobs) sounds quite high. But it is normal for workers to look for greener pastures.

"Bosses have to take the responsibility in engaging their staff because they have the power to change things in their companies," he said.

tohyc@sph.com.sg