Keep track of trends

The Straits Times Recruit
Published: 6 Aug 2013
By Ronald Lee, Managing Director, PrimeStaff Management Services 

Whether you are an in-house recruiter or a recruitment consultant with an employment agency, it is important to understand the economic climate and its impact on employment.

According to PrimeStaff Management Services’ Employment Outlook Q3 2013 Report, the Singapore market may continue to experience some degree of volatility in the third quarter (Q3) due to the effects of the fiscal policies in the United States and Japan.

This, coupled with a relatively weak economic outlook, is expected to translate into cautious hiring sentiment amongst companies and businesses will generally avoid increasing their permanent headcount.

Labour costs in Singapore form a large component of the total cost of running a business so it is to be expected that employers will hire on a needs basis, and for critical competencies across the board.

Another key element that is impacting the recruitment landscape is the clampdown on the hiring of foreign workers. To cope, businesses are seeking to maximise the productivity of their existing workforce by developing aggressive business innovation capabilities to help create wider margins and faster turnaround in service delivery – at the same cost of doing business.

However, the tightening of the foreign worker policies has given rise to a greater demand for Singapore workers. So recruiters will now have to step up their game to woo Singaporean talent. In light of this, here are some recommendations for recruiters:

1. Revamp C&B packages: In this market, it’s the little things that will prompt the candidate to move. When devising compensation & benefits (C&B) packages, look beyond the salary package and offer more family-focused benefits such as integrating flexi-work programmes.

2. Focus on employer branding: For inhouse recruiters, employer branding will be the key to attracting talent.

3. Promote inclusiveness, collaboration and co-creation: Take a person-centric approach in managing talent; have an age-friendly work culture to harness diversity in a cross-cultural and multi-generational setting. Creative talent engagement and retention strategies will need to be implemented as talent are highly mobile and have higher expectations. When crafting HR strategies, a one-size-fits-all approach will not work.

Key recruitment and HR trends

1. Growth sectors: The industries that will be experiencing robust hiring activity these few months are: food & beverage (F&B), retail, hospitality & Mice (meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions), telecommunications & information, education, health care, and energy.

2. Demand for subject matter experts: The demand for individuals with scarce skill sets is set to continue, as employers seek to take advantage of the upward U-curve of Singapore’s economic recovery.

3. Work improvement programmes: More organisations will develop business innovation capabilities in order to maximise the productivity of their existing workforce.

4. Hiring of economically inactive locals: There will be a slight increase in the hiring of older professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) as well as economically inactive Singaporeans such as housewives and mature residents. This will take place as the Government continues to encourage these groups to return to the workforce through its programmes like WorkPro and Age Management that help to foster progressive workplaces through flexible work arrangements. Retraining to ensure a successful transition and employability will also be heavily emphasised.

5. Flexible work programmes: More companies will implement flexible work programmes as the Government continues to encourage work-life harmony.

6. Contract hiring: Due to the cautious hiring sentiment in the market, many companies will avoid increasing their permanent headcount. They will thus prefer to hire on a contract basis in the interim.

7. Employee retention: As the manpower crunch persists, companies will look to retention strategies in a bid to keep their employees.

8. Business process outsourcing (BPO): Outsourcing business support functions such as human resource activities will continue to be a key trend this quarter.

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