The world is rapidly becoming a smaller place, and in line with this, workplaces should be growing increasingly more diverse. A diverse workforce includes mature age workers, flexible workers (such as working mothers), people from multicultural backgrounds and workers with disabilities.
And while some Singaporean offices exemplify a diverse workplace, others appear to avoid the trend, failing to capitalise on a market of jobseekers with qualifications, skills and experience – and a solution to Singapore’s growing skills shortage.
Demand for skilled employees is clearly on the rise, with almost three-quarters of Singapore companies saying they are already experiencing skills shortages or expecting them to emerge in the next 12 months, while less than 10 percent believe they are still a fair way off. So it is surprising to find that 25 percent of employers admitted they are not actively recruiting from a diverse jobseeker pool.
Changing labour force and workplace demographics over the next 10 to 15 years will compel all organisations globally to increase their investment and capacity to attract, retain and manage diverse employees in order to build a competitive workforce. Some organisations have identified diversity and inclusion as key to their workplace imperatives, while others are simply seeking a ‘better way’ to find talent.
Encouraging a diverse workforce that has strong knowledge, skills and experience will be the driving force for Singapore’s long-term growth and productivity. But with 52 percent of employers in Singapore looking to increase head count and only 36 percent planning to hire mature age jobseekers, it is interesting that less than one-fifth will offer part-time or flexible positions. This is particularly surprising given the need to create a workplace culture to cater to the needs of the working mother.
To get the most out of this under-utilised talent pool, companies must look first at the attraction – and then at their retention strategies. Here are three top tips on how employees can do this:
Treat everyone as an individual – It is always important to remember that despite statistics, individuals are exactly that – individuals. Regardless of generation, gender, disability, or cultural background, employees are heavily influenced by a number of other factors such as lifestyle, experiences and ambition. To attract and retain top talent, and build a productive and successful business, all of these need to be taken into account when mapping out hiring strategies, career development and succession plans for the future.
Provide flexible work arrangements – Mature age and flexible workers, and some workers with disabilities will place a premium on work-life balance, so employers need to look at providing flexible working arrangement – and making the offering unique to each individual. Employees will see immense value in this.
Make physical changes to the workplace – Employers might need to consider what changes should be made to the workplace to accommodate people with disabilities. This could simply mean adjusting a chair or desk, computer or keyboard or taking advantage of technology.
It seems employers who focus purely on an employee’s competencies and experience will broaden their talent pool and have a golden opportunity to source and retain talented individuals. Not only is this the right move ethically, it is also an intelligent business decision that will have positive flow-on effects for business, the economy and society in general.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Karin Clarke is the Randstad Regional Director for Singapore & Malaysia.