More than one in three employers - 35 per cent - surveyed in July expect to increase their hiring in the October to December period. These are mostly those in the finance, insurance and real estate industries, as well as manufacturing.
However, 37 per cent of the 519 surveyed expect to scale down their hiring activity, while another 26 per cent do not anticipate any changes in hiring.
The weakest hiring outlook was reported by employers in the service sector, at minus 29 per cent. This was followed by the wholesale and retail and the mining and construction sectors.
The survey results will be released by recruitment agency ManpowerGroup today.
Overall, the net employment outlook for the coming quarter is at 1 per cent, a far cry from the 15 per cent from July to September. Net employment outlook is derived by taking the percentage of employers expecting to hire and subtracting from it the percentage expecting to see a fall in employment.
The survey was conducted in late July, when Singapore returned to phase two (heightened alert) after a brief phase three of its anti-coronavirus measures.
Ms Linda Teo, ManpowerGroup Singapore's country manager, said employers are ready to recalibrate their hiring plans amid the current volatile situation due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The quick return to phase two (heightened alert) plus surging Covid-19 infections in Singapore and globally may have prompted some employers to slow down and observe the situation further, hence the more subdued hiring outlook when compared with the last quarter," she said.
The survey also found that 84 per cent of employers in Singapore reported difficulty in hiring due to a lack of skilled talent.
To help fill jobs, a significant proportion of organisations are investing in training, skills development and mentoring (47 per cent), and offering more flexible work schedules (42 per cent).
Other incentives to attract talent include more flexible working locations (34 per cent), joining bonuses (35 per cent) and pay increments (27 per cent).
Companies are also focusing on upskilling their workforces, with 50 per cent of organisations planning to invest in training existing employees in higher-skilled roles in the coming months.
Some 35 per cent are prioritising the training of existing employees in lower-skilled roles.
Ms Teo said it is encouraging to see that employers are investing in training and offering greater workplace flexibility to attract and retain talent.
This aligns with what workers want, as the group's research has shown for some time now, and "is the right way forward in the new future of work", she added.