What workers in Singapore want: More annual leave

Office workers at Raffles Place.
Office workers at Raffles Place.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Apart from a bigger pay cheque, what's the one thing you really want from your boss? Right, more time off.

That was indeed the result when 500 employees in Singapore were asked what topped their wish list - apart from more pay, of course.

The survey by recruitment firm Robert Half Singapore found 36 per cent of workers put more annual leave at the top of their wish list.

About 32 per cent chose more flexible working hours, while ano-ther 20 per cent said professional development opportunities were their top priority.

But employers have a different opinion of what their team wants.

When 150 senior employees such as chief executives were asked the same question, only 18 per cent felt that their workers would like more days of leave.

Instead, 54 per cent think that flexible hours is what their employees most desire.

"While everyone would like more days off, very few companies will increase the amount of annual leave above that which was agreed to when the employee started with the company," said Robert Half Singapore managing director Stella Tang. "So while the desire among employees for more days off is strong, it is a wish that is unlikely to come true."

Flexible work arrangements, she noted, are a more realistic demand that bosses have the power to provide.

Mr David Ang, director of consultancy Human Capital Singapore, said the benefits of non-traditional employment packages are a hard sell to smaller companies.

"The bottom line is the cost of business. Because of the manpower crunch and the cost of labour, most small and medium-sized enterprises will simply follow what the Manpower Ministry prescribes in the Employment Act," he said.

For most Singaporeans, balancing between professional and personal time is a question of compromise.

Mr Muhammad Isa, 31, chose to quit his sales job to be a freelance fitness trainer.

"I'm a backpacker, I travel often, and I'm just happy with my life because I have time to travel without worrying about my boss," he said.

He earns $3,000 to $4,000 a month, but he gets no employer contribution to his Central Provident Fund account. His friends, in turn, envy him his freedom.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2015, with the headline 'What workers want: More annual leave'. Print Edition | Subscribe