SINGAPORE - Employers' overall management of the Covid-19 crisis in Singapore was generally seen positively by employees, although some did better than others, according to the results of a survey published on Tuesday (April 13).
The ranking of the top 200 Singapore's Best Employers 2021, among companies and institutions with at least 200 employees, was released by The Straits Times and global research company Statista.
Technology giants Google and Apple came in first and second, respectively, followed by retailer Adidas Singapore, educational institute Singapore American School, and fellow tech giant Amazon.
More than 9,000 people responded to the online survey conducted in August and September last year, whittling down a long list of more than 1,700 eligible employers across 26 industries.
Employers were given a score based primarily on whether staff would recommend them to a friend or family member. The top score was 8.62, while the score for 200th place was 6.86.
Mr Warren Fernandez, Straits Times editor and editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holdings' English, Malay and Tamil Media Group, said: "Our would-you-recommend-your-employer approach, developed by Statista, has thrown up interesting findings.
"It reveals companies where staff have a sense of purpose and commitment, feel valued, and not only want to stay, but would also recommend others sign up too. That's a powerful endorsement."
Statista senior analyst Christina Pittas noted that about 70 per cent of the employers on last year's inaugural list of 150 best employers are also on this year's list, which suggests that companies in Singapore are managing the crisis well, despite the challenges they are facing.
The second edition of the survey included additional Covid-19-specific questions.
For example, 61 per cent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that cohesion among colleagues was strong in times of crisis, 57 per cent responded likewise when asked if personal problems were considered, and 62 per cent felt that technical equipment and support for mobile working was good.
Industries with greater resilience or advantage during the pandemic, such as semiconductors and electronics, drugs and biotechnology, insurance and logistics, showed relatively high levels of employee satisfaction.
When broken down into level of employment - from trainee to supervisor - lower-level employees were generally less satisfied than higher-level employees. Also, women tended to display slightly lower levels of satisfaction than men, across the three statements.
Ms Pittas said: "Our data indicates that the vulnerable employee groups bear the highest burden of the crisis. It is up to the companies to not lose sight of these groups, but to give them additional support and make them feel valued."
Some of the good practices at firms on this year's list include how Amazon conducts a daily poll to gauge employee sentiments in real time.
It also expects to invest about US$4 billion (S$5.4 billion) in Covid-related initiatives globally, getting products and services to customers while keeping employees safe, said Ms Sandra Teh, head of employer brand for Asia-Pacific, Japan and Greater China at Amazon Web Services.
Meanwhile, at consumer goods company Reckitt, formerly known as Mead Johnson Nutrition, the focus has been on addressing employees' needs, not just in terms of their productivity, but also their sense of belonging to the company and emotional well-being, said Mr Surya Rai, the firm's regional human resources director for Asean.
For example, Reckitt ramped up internal communication including regular sharing of information about the company and evolving knowledge of the crisis.
Meanwhile, besides measures to help staff cope with the Covid-19 crisis, attractive employers also tend to have measures to nurture and engage staff.
For example, at German conglomerate Siemens, managers can recognise and reward staff through a mobile-enabled app where they can write e-cards and give points which can be exchanged for gifts and vouchers, said Ms Winnie Chik, head of talent acquisition, employer branding and diversity at Siemens Asean.
Over at communications equipment company Motorola Solutions Singapore, employees can use online learning platforms to access leadership development, technical and soft skills programmes, said Ms Charlene Tan, the firm's Asia-Pacific human resources director.
Commenting on the survey findings on how employees felt their employers managed Covid-19, Institute for Human Resource Professionals chief executive Mayank Parekh said it is important not to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to employee communication.
More customised messages to lower-level employees, and women in particular, will help address specific concerns, he said.
"My advice to employers that made it to the list is to continue their journey to proactively provide support to their employees. For example, there is a need to focus on new areas such as managing employees' mental well-being in such uncertain times as employees might not be comfortable voicing out their challenges during uncertain times," he added.
How the survey was conducted
The second edition of the Singapore's Best Employers survey was conducted from August to September last year via online panels and The Straits Times' website.
Respondents were asked to rate their willingness to recommend their employer to friends and family on a scale of zero to 10. Zero meant "I wouldn't recommend my employer under any circumstances", and 10 meant "I would definitely recommend my employer".
They were also asked if there are other employers in their respective industries that they would - or would not - recommend.
The results of the two questions were used to calculate a score for each firm, with greater weight given to the direct score that participants gave their own employer.
More than 9,000 employees responded, providing over 200,000 evaluations.
Responses were kept anonymous and the survey was not administered through companies so that staff would not feel pressured to state a certain view.
All companies and institutions employing at least 200 people in Singapore were eligible for the ranking.
The 200 employers with the best scores - less than 15 per cent of the eligible companies - made it to the list of Singapore's Best Employers 2021.