Are Singapore Employees Part Of The Great Resignation?

The term Great Resignation has been used liberally in social media to be associated with burn-out, job dissatisfaction, frustrations with working from home. The Great Resignation was first coined by Anthony Klotz, an organizational psychologist and professor at Texas A&M University, to describe the wave of mass resignations due to the pandemic causing a shift in our mindsets about work. Fuelled by pandemic safety concerns, wage stagnation, job dissatisfaction in 2021, resignations in US reached a peak of 4.5 million workers in US.

For employers, the real question is whether the Great Resignation is really true in Singapore? While almost of us would have known of someone who quit their job during the pandemic, employee turnover is an inevitable part of business operations.

We take a deeper look into Ministry of Manpower’s Labour Force in Singapore 2021 report to find out whether Singapore employees are part of the Great Resignation.

Read Also: 5 Ways Businesses Need To Think About Hiring In 2022 (After Budget 2022 Statement)

8.8% Of Employees Had Changed Jobs In The Last Year

At first glance, 8.8% of employed residents had changed jobs in the last one year, an increase from 8.2% in 2020 which was marked by the start of the pandemic and the resultant increase in employee layoffs.

However, when compared to the pre-pandemic years, the 8.8% in 2021 is similar to 8.8% in 2018 and 8.9% in 2019. This suggests that the proportion of employees who had changed jobs in the last one year has not changed much compared to the years just before the pandemic.

In fact, when we look at the longer term trend, including those who have left their jobs in the last two years, the proportion of those leaving their jobs in less than 2 years has been declining.

However, what has changed is the pool of employed residents. The employment rate in 2021 has reached 67.2%, the highest in more than 20 years for residents over 15 years and 81.8% for residents aged between 25 and 64 years old. Labour force participation also reached a peak of 70.5%. The pool of employed residents had actually expanded in 2021.

This means that while the proportion of employees leaving their jobs has remained at pre-pandemic levels, the number of employees who left their jobs may have increased due to the increased numbers of new employees and the overall larger pool of employees.

Read Also: Guide To Understanding The Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) For Companies Hiring Local Workers

Employees Below The Age Of 30 Are More Likely To Have Changed Jobs In The Last Year

Younger employees are more likely to be part of the Great Resignation. Those aged below 30 years old form the largest proportion of employees who have changed jobs in the last one year and also showed an increase from 2020.

Job changes for this group of employees aged below 30 is unsurprising to most employers as these young employees are still in the early stages of their careers and still exploring career options.

Sectors Affected By The Pandemic Showed Higher Proportion Of Employees Who Left Their Jobs

The pandemic showed its effect on affected sectors such as Arts, Entertainment & Recreation, Food & Beverage Services and Accommodation with an increased proportion of employees leaving in the last year.

  • Arts, Entertainment & Recreation: 7.6% in 2021 from 5.4% in 2020
  • Food & Beverage Services: 11.5% in 2021 from 9.9% in 2020
  • Accommodation: 10% in 2021, from 8.8% in 2020

Sectors that showed high demand for workers, such as Healthcare & Social Services, Public Administration & Defense and Information and Communications, also showed higher proportion of employees leaving in the last one year.

  • Healthcare & Social Services: 8.7% in 2021 from 7.5% in 2020
  • Public Administration & Defense: 6.6% in 2021 from 5.4% in 2020
  • Information and Communications: 14% in 2021 from 13% in 2020

More Employees Left Their Jobs Because Of Job Dissatisfaction

While job retrenchment continued to be the top (involuntary) reason for leaving last job for unemployed residents, long working hours/ work too demanding is the third top reason (and the top voluntary reason) for leaving last job. This more than doubled from 4.5% in 2020 to 10.1% in 2021.

For both PMETs and Non-PMETs, the top 3 voluntary reasons for leaving last job were long working hours/ work too demanding, pay was too low and poor working conditions. These factors have almost doubled (or more than doubled for PMETs) in 2021.

Source: MOM, Labour Force in Singapore 2021

Singapore Employees Aren’t Part Of The Great Resignation (Yet)

Based on the above figures, it appears that Singapore employees aren’t part of the Great Resignation as the figures don’t show a significant wave of resignations. However, there are signs that the way employees think about work is shifting, with more resigning due to voluntary reasons that are related to job satisfaction. Singapore employees care more about whether their jobs have too long working hours or are too demanding, their compensation and working conditions and employers should take note.

Additionally, the influx of hiring and new employment in 2021 means that many new employees may have been outside of the workforce prior to their current new job. Depending on how well they adjust back to the working world, this may or may not result in a future wave of resignation.

Read Also: Insights: The Great Resignation, how to mitigate it, and The Great Renewal of 2022

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