The consensus amongst academics and the business community is that employee engagement is key to productivity and success. Studies indicate that companies with high employee engagement vastly out-perform ones with lower rates, with employee engagement having a direct impact on work performance and attrition rates.

Recent studies show that employees in Singapore are significantly less engaged than their regional counterparts. Aon Hewitt estimated employee engagement on the island nation at around 59%. This number is significantly lower than India, Philippines, China, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia where engagement is as high as 76%. These findings are echoed by separate studies from Robert Half and Gallup. This places Singaporean employees among the least engaged in the region, suggesting a pressing need to rectify the situation.

Like any challenge however, the first stop towards its resolution is understanding its causes.


Why are Singaporean Employees Less Engaged?

One reason for lower engagement in Singapore is that local companies are not focusing enough on internal communications, according to a nation study by The study revealed that communications and collaboration tools at workplaces are not mobile-friendly and are not embedded into the applications that employees utilize every day.

Secondly, around 39% of employees spent significant time away from their desks each month and relied on tele or video conferencing to communicate in addition to E-mails and other forums of information exchange.

Another cause for low engagement is that teaching and training methods are outdated. For example, classrooms, which rely on the immediate availability and proximity of employees, are still the most common method of sharing information. Even though better, cheaper options that rely on technology exist.

Finally, Singaporean companies also tend to be more international. Thus, employees are spread over the globe, making communication more challenging.

Statistical benefits from Employee Engagement

Improving employee engagement promotes a variety of outcomes that are good for employees. This can be narrowed down to 4 main benefits.

1. Cost-Savings
Disengaged staff are slowly draining the life out of businesses. In the UK, employee disengagement is costing businesses around £340 billion every single year in lost productivity, while in the USA Gallup estimates this figure rises as high as $550 billion.
On the other hand, engaged employees improve profitability and drive revenue. Workforce opinion surveys show that highly engaged employees can boost business performance by 30%. Additionally, companies with engaged employees outperform those without by 202%.

2. Lower Turnover
Whenever a staff member leaves, it can cost 33% of their salary to replace them (EBN news). Furthermore, a new employee can take up to 2 full years to reach the same level of productivity as an existing staff member. In the vast majority of circumstances, that’s going to mean some degree of lost productivity.
Recent studies show that more than a third of workers are searching actively or casually for a job. As a result, US employers spend $2.9M per day/$1.1B per year looking for replacement workers. However, highly engaged staff are 87% less likely to leave an organisation than less engaged staff. This translates into huge cost savings for companies.

3. More Productive Employees
A more engaged workforce increases productivity levels due to higher discretionary efforts amongst engaged employees. Defined as “going above and beyond,” discretionary effort is one of the golden tickets for business success. This is reflected in a recent study by Mckinsey, which stated that, the overall productivity levels increased by 20-25% when employees are engaged.

4. Happier Customers
Happy employees create happy and satisfied customers. A study conducted by the Aberdeen Group showed that companies with a formalized employee engagement program enjoy 233% greater customer loyalty.
Ultimately, employees are the most valuable asset within an organization. Based on the statistics, it may be worthwhile for Singapore-based companies to prioritise employee engagement.