Redundancies had risen for the fifth year in a row, according to a Manpower Ministry report that has been released recently, and the bulk of the layoffs are Professionals Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs). By industry, PMETs in professional services, wholesale trade, financial & insurance services and manufacturing were more likely to be affected by redundancy.
In addition, it takes longer for the PMETs to regain employment, taking an average of 2.37 months. Layoffs rose across all broad sectors last year, with employers mainly citing global economic uncertainties, on-going restructuring and reorganisation of businesses as key reasons for the layoffs.
It is a myth of those resistant to change that there is nothing that one can do in a economic downturn - Rather than to be a sitting duck and find yourself without a chair when the music stop, take active steps to build up your capabilities and resilience and beat the doldrums of a downturn with these handy tips and make yourself resilient to the headwinds!
Increase Productivity with Technology Tools
Over the past five years, the Singapore economy's growth of about 4 per cent a year was powered solely by manpower growth, while productivity was more or less stagnant. With a shrinking local labour force and a slowing foreign workforce growth, Singapore economic growth may hit a snag if it continues banking on manpower growth alone to sustain it. As succinctly put by Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say, ”Without a breakthrough in productivity growth... low growth will become the new norm.”
Help increase productivity at your work place through the adoption of technology and you could be pleasantly surprised by the time savings you can reap from a tech-enabled workflow (which then frees you up to do more value-added tasks for the firm).
For example, through the use of StaffOnDemand recruitment management platforms, lean HR teams can take on herculean tasks of managing high volume recruitment workflows without breaking a sweat, and trim the hiring cycle time by more than 50%.
If you are a local company, you can also leverage on the plethora of productivity grants provided by the Singapore government (e.g. PIC or ICV grants) and get a generous subsidy off your chosen technological tool.
Invest in Yourself & Broaden Your Skill Sets
In an economic downturn, why not take the opportunity to broaden your skill sets? An investment in yourself may pay off bountifully, enabling you to adjust to changing work environments.
One of the striking data insight from the same Manpower Report was the fact the majority of residents laid off in 2015 secured new jobs in an industry different from which they were laid off from (70%). If your industry is adversely affected by global economic downturn, having a myriad of skill sets that you can apply to other industries may help you in securing work (and thereby easily employable) in a multitude of industries.
If you are a Singaporean Citizen aged 25 and above, you have an opening credit of S$500 from January 2016 to encourage individual ownership of skills development and lifelong learning. SkillsFuture Credit can be used on top of existing government course subsidies to pay for a wide range of approved skills-related courses and here’s the full list of approved courses at the SkillsFuture Credit Course Directory.
All Singaporeans aged 40 and above will receive up to 90% course fee subsidy for WDA-funded courses, including modular courses in publicly funded post-secondary education institutions, and additional reductions in MOE-funded diploma and degree courses under the SkillsFuture Mid-Career Enhanced Subsidy. This is an additional 20 to 40 per cent increase in subsidy for WDA-funded courses at the PME level and a 6 to 20 per cent increase for diploma and degree courses subsidised by MOE.
If you are an employer, consider tapping on the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme, where you can recruit local fresh talent and prepare them to meet the staffing needs of your organization. For more SkillsFuture and other training grants for employers, refer to this article for a good summary of what is available!
Be Open to New Opportunities and Added Responsibilities
With reorganisations and consolidations being the order of the day, being versatile and open-minded about new opportunities will increase your chances of riding out the storm as a survivor. To keep expenses in check in the downturn, it is not uncommon to expect staff members to take on more roles.
A recession can open up opportunities to display your capabilities, since layoffs typically occur at all levels of an organization and can create vacuums above and below you. Get started on wearing multiple hats and imagine how you can support your company by leveraging on your work skills and experience and be open to raise your hand to volunteer to help alleviate some of the work burden.
Keep Your Chin Up!
It is not the best of times, but you can definitely help to liven up the team spirits and motivate them to work alongside with you in the tough times; Having a cheerful and positive disposition can have a halo effect on those around you, and at the same time, help keep a open mindset to new growth opportunities despite the tough economic conditions.
Focus on Customers
At the heart of any business, is your customers - Without them, there wouldn’t even be a job to speak of! Prove your value by anticipating the needs of your customers, and ensuring that their needs are met through your business product / service offering. Go directly to these customers, and be dilligent in finding out what they want or need. Explore growth partnerships, or consider setting up customer referral programmes to encourage more growth through your existing networks.
Report: Redundancy and Re-entry into Employment 2015