As the year comes to an end, workers in Singapore will be expecting their bonuses to come in. Quite possibly, many have even made purchases or booked holidays against these expected bonuses that they have yet to receive.
One other thing that workers can usually expect as the year draws to a close is the annual review meeting with their bosses and managers. This meeting usually entails discussion surrounding their performance for the year, areas they have done well and areas that can be improved upon in 2017. During this meeting, workers may also expect to talk about their annual salary review.
Business Times recently reported that median salaries in Singapore are expected to rise by 4.7% in 2017. Needless to say, everyone will be hoping to see their pay packets go up by at least this amount, if not more, during their review meetings.
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Should We Expect Our Pay To Go Up?
Singapore has had a tough year. Our economy, driven by government policies and support, is in a structural transition to become less reliant on labour. This has raised local and foreign labour costs for some companies, prompting them to reduce or exit local operations. The battered oil & gas and offshore & marine industries have also affected Singapore, as a major hub for such business. On top of that, geopolitical uncertainties abetted by Brexit in the Eurozone, Trump’s election and China’s slowing growth has had an impact on our local economy.
This raises the question then – will companies, operating in such an unpredictable business environment, give us good bonuses and raise our pay?
Add to the fact that Singapore’s economy has been experiencing a record 24 consecutive months of negative inflation, or deflation. What this means is that consumers are basically paying less for things now compared to 24 months ago. So if we consider that we’re paying less for stuff today, we should not really be expecting to earn more next year for doing the same work.
The Problem With Having Expectations
Before we go deeper into the discussion, let’s make it clear that having expectations, especially for one’s self, is by itself is not a bad thing. We want our workers to expect a brighter future, and who would work hard towards achieving that. Young Singaporeans have grown up in a successful era that has seen much growth and prosperity.
It is because of this that from the moment we step into the workforce, we expect to be paid the average starting salary for a graduate of our education level. We expect to work in a good position, after reading #YOLO articles explaining that you should love what you do. We expect annual raises as our portfolio expands each year – and even if doesn’t, we still expect a raise anyway, by the average amount the media tells us. We expect to earn the median salary (at least)…and the list goes on.
Another driver of expectations is derived from our friends and family. We see our peers getting the recognition and promotion at the job they are in. We may also see them post their #lovemylife Instagram or facebook posts to boast about how much they enjoy their work. These may be exaggerated or not, we just don’t know. Yet it causes us to expect more from our own job.
The problem with expectations is that if seen the wrong way, it may be setting us up for failure instead. If we do not receive the salary raise or the promotion we expect, we feel the sting of disappointment that compels us to start thinking whether it is acceptable to put in less effort in our jobs, since we think we’re not being paid what we deserve. This traps many in a vicious cycle that ensures we never get what we expect, because we never do enough to actually deserve it.
What Can We Do?
We are not telling workers to undervalue themselves. Rather, we’re saying that instead of going about our careers with expectations that will only trap us in dejection, we say put in your 100% once you have a job. Don’t be that person who puts in less effort because you think you are being underpaid. Otherwise, it only serves to confirm that you do indeed deserve to be underpaid in the first place, or more accurately, fairly paid given the (lack of) contribution you have provided.
If we cared less about the expected promotions, expected pay raises, expected salaries and expected positions we should be in, we may actually do a better job. Once we’ve taken a job, we should buckle down and do our best. If we feel shortchanged, we should not react by producing poor quality work as this will only reflect badly on us in the long run.
The local labour market is still experiencing healthy employment levels, with unemployment hovering around the 3% mark. In addition, the Singapore government is pushing companies to be more effective and efficient. This means there will be no shortage of employers looking for high quality workers to replace poor quality ones. If you are a high quality worker, your value will eventually be recognised, if not by your current employers, then definitely by your next employer.
The question, however, is are you a high quality worker? Or are you just an average worker with high expectations?
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