Nearly half of S'pore employers plan to invest more in skills of critical staff: Survey

The survey found that 63 per cent of companies here see staff restructuring as the top priority in the wake of the pandemic's financial impact. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Local firms are focusing on two key strategies in the wake of the pandemic - improving staff capabilities and reorganising their workforces in readiness for the post-Covid-19 environment, showed a new survey.

It found that 63 per cent of companies here see staff restructuring as the top priority in the wake of the pandemic's financial impact.

Equipping employees with new skills came in second as a priority, with 37 per cent of companies saying they will invest in this area while 41 per cent intend to invest more in helping critical staff gain new skills.

Boosting the morale of employees came in third, with 32 per cent of companies citing this as a priority for 2021.

But while bosses see the need to upgrade staff capabilities to speed up the transformation of their firms, only 9 per cent of human resource leaders here have introduced pay structures to accelerate skill development compared with 15 per cent globally.

"Progress in this area will be critical for reinvention in 2021 as employees need to see that learning new skills leads to tangible rewards, recognition or promotion," said Mr Lewis Garrad, local career business leader at consultancy Mercer, which conducted the annual global study.

He added that Covid-19 has proven that the ability to rapidly adjust capacity and redeploy resources are critical to business continuity, a process that requires an understanding of the existing skills employees have and the ones they will need for the future.

But only 24 per cent of Singapore firms are gathering information on their employees' individual skills - a finding that has remained low year on year, noted Mr Garrad.

"The greatest opportunity for supporting people to thrive in the future is implementing skills-based talent strategies - something that just 13 per cent of companies in Singapore do today," he added.

However, the study pointed to an encouraging trend - 60 per cent of companies said they are exploring ways to develop talent based on skills.

Another finding noted that 60 per cent of firms here said they have enhanced flexible working policies and practices compared with 56 per cent globally.

And 36 per cent intend to introduce digital medical services and benefits to address mental or emotional health issues, while 23 per cent are training managers to spot such issues among staff.

Career coach Paul Heng said employees should not expect pay-related rewards to be linked with skills acquisition.

"If it's going to be a win-win situation (for both employees and employers), employees have to be willing to invest the time and effort to equip themselves with the relevant knowledge and skill sets," noted Mr Heng, who is founder and managing director of NeXT Career Consulting Group, Asia.

"Pay increase or promotions are typically considered for employees who demonstrate their potential for doing bigger jobs," he said, adding that having the right skills does not automatically equate to an employee's potential.

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