The flip side of the Great Resignation is having to work longer before retiring: Poll

Many people who undertake mid or late-career job switches end up taking pay cuts to start off in new roles. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - A wave of resignations during the Covid-19 pandemic as disgruntled employees quit unsatisfactory working conditions is expected to delay retirement for some who left their jobs in what has been dubbed "The Great Resignation", according to a poll by insurer Prudential Singapore.

Prudential polled 1,000 Singapore residents who had resigned or intended to resign.

The survey was conducted in April with respondents aged between 25 and 50.

It found that one in five respondents caught in The Great Resignation wave expect to work for another six years on average, resulting in them delaying retirement at 58 years to 64 instead.

This is because many people who undertake mid or late-career job switches end up taking pay cuts to start off in new roles.

But Mr Will Tan, managing director of Principle Partners, a specialist financial service executive search firm, said job switches should not be considered only in dollars and cents and that such moves may well add a very fulfilling six more years of working life for some.

Mr Tan said some people resign after they re-evaluate what is more important to them.

One example is Mediacorp actress Felicia Chin, who is leaving the broadcaster to join a non-profit organisation, where she is likely to earn less but hopes to inspire others who are down and out.

Mr Tan added that he has also seen some who quit to take on a lower paying job that gives them more flexibility and work-life balance.

The Prudential survey found that one in two (52 per cent) who have resigned did so because they no longer felt engaged at work. Just over a third of the respondents also decided to make a switch to take care of their mental health or to leave a toxic work environment.

Principle Partners' Mr Tan said more executives are making a mid-career switch into a new industry.

"(There are) transferable skills, no doubt, but there's also a part of your experience that's not transferable. So, you probably need to accept a lower pay," he said.

Ms Jaya Dass, managing director of recruitment firm Randstad Malaysia and Singapore, is observing a similar trend of job seekers open to trying new work and pushing themselves beyond their comfort zone.

Ms Dass said many won't be lucky the first time round and that they will have to try and fail a few times before they find a job fit.

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Ms Grace Tang, who is 33 and works in the entertainment tech industry, is among those who intend to quit to try something new.

Ms Tang is worried about becoming stagnant in her current job and is willing to take a pay cut of 10 to 12 per cent to move into a new industry.

But Principle Partners' Mr Tan said there are some professionals who are also starting to regret their decisions to switch jobs, as their quality of life drops after doing so.

"Some are actually starting to feel the pain because inflation is going up," he said.

Many who leave their jobs also do so without proper financial planning for retirement - the Prudential survey found almost half (44 per cent) of the respondents were unprepared.

Mr Dennis Tan, chief executive of Prudential Singapore, said it has become even more important for those wanting to change work to consider their retirement plans before doing so, especially as Singaporeans are living longer and will need to accumulate an even bigger nest egg so they will not outlive their savings.

The problem is exacerbated by rising costs of living and healthcare expenses.

The Prudential survey found that more than seven in 10 respondents (73 per cent) rely on the savings in their Central Provident Fund (CPF) account as their main income source for retirement.

Prudential's Mr Tan said it is important that Singaporeans diversify their retirement funds by putting their money into different financial instruments. This helps to spread risk and smooth out volatilities during challenging market conditions.

Ms Tang is looking into building enough retirement funds so she can sustain the lifestyle she wants when she retires.

She has savings and investment plans and is exploring the option of investing in Singapore savings bonds to diversify her retirement nest-egg.

"Regardless of how you plan, it is important to start planning early so you have a longer runway to grow your retirement funds," Prudential's Mr Tan said.

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