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Why Singapore: Work Ethics and Government

When a company starts planning its relocation to another region, the management usually launches a study on the access to labor markets as we as their skill-level. This type of a study assists management in understanding and managing the risks before entering into any new territory. Such a study should examine the region’s work ethic and morals.

In this day and age, with multiple companies flocking to Singapore, which is rapidly becoming the Mecca of entrepreneurial innovation, the work ethic of the nation as a whole has a big role to play in its success. An understanding of how the Singaporean society functions and what motivates its people can serve as the key to success for any new business looking to set up shop.

Singapore is a giant melting pot—some would argue more so than the United States. People from all walks of life—Chinese, Britons, Indian, American, and African (to name a few)—can be found pursuing their passions. Although Singapore has an amalgamation of cultures, its work ethic is heavily influenced by Chinese cultures and morals. For example, in Chinese culture, disregard towards elders and superiors is considered in a very negative light. This trait can also be seen in the Singaporean society, where subordinates treat their superiors with the utmost respect and expect expatriates to do the same.

The Singaporean government’s previous efforts to make ‘productivity’ a national concern paid off during the recent global financial crisis. Institutions such as the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA), under the leadership of CEO Chan Heng Kee ensured that new programs to keep the workforce engaged through continued education programs and career centers. Such measures were only possible because in the past WDA had prepared and implement a Workforce Skill Qualification system (WSQ) which provided a powerful framework to take the labor markets forward as the global markets faced economic peril.

Expatriates looking to migrate their business or look for jobs in Singapore should not be alarmed by longer work days than they may be used to. An 8-12-hour workday is not unheard of, but beyond that, employers must have legitimate reasons to keep an employee on the clock.

Similar to Chinese ideology, the people of Singapore tend not think in terms to I but in terms of we; collective gain is given higher value of personal gain; it is the group and not the individual that is given attention. According to Anglo Info Singapore, unemployment in the nation is at a low of 4 percent and the working conditions are fair, though rigorous.

Coinciding with the notion of the collective wellbeing of the state, recently the Singaporean government enacted measures to ensure that older citizens, those that have surpassed the retirement age of 62, remain economically independent. “Formed under the aegis of the Tripartite Committee on Employability of Older Workers (“TriCom”), the Tripartite Implementation Workgroup (TIWG) aims to help companies put in place the necessary processes and systems for re-employment to work” states the Guidelines on the Re-Employment of Older Employees, which is available for download on Ministry of Manpower, Singapore website.

The work ethic of Singaporeans is an honest and hardworking one. This idea is reflected through the Ministry of Manpower’s website and their statement that “Good employment practices will not only ensure the welfare of the workers, but also inspire optimal performance. The basic employment interests of employees should be safeguarded, such as the timely and accurate payment of wages, as well as the provision of leave and retrenchment benefits”. The government goes to great extents to provide for its workforce, for example 8-weeks paid maternity leave is guaranteed.

Clearly, Singapore is heading towards an economic revolution. The government truly understands how important it is to invest in their people. Their efforts are transforming Singapore to become the leaders entrepreneurial development and technological innovation. With unemployment rates low and worker satisfaction high, Singapore is a sure investment for any company looking to move their doors to the East. Not only is it a prosperous nation, its people seem to be delightful to work with as well. And, aside from some much-needed business profit, what more could we, as management, ask for?

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  3. May 17th, 2010 at 07:34 | #5
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