, Singapore

Bonus season has ended in Singapore - should you stay or should you go?

By Mark Stuart

As we get into the business end of the bonus season in Singapore, many employees are starting to consider whether they should jump ship once their bonus hits their bank account. We call this the ‘merry-go-round’ as the number of available jobs increases significantly whilst the total number of jobs stays static or even falls.

The 2013 Randstad Award survey found that 56% of employees in Singapore were looking to change jobs within the next two years because of unsatisfactory compensation. But is it really worth moving firms or should you stay and invest in your current firm? 

All too often, employees in Singapore are lured to new jobs by an extra $500 a month but the costs to your career can be significantly more. If you’re making a lateral move, then you need to first consider the reasons behind that move and the implications it could have on your career progression.

Let's look at the pros and cons behind the main reasons for leaving your firm:

1) Money – In these tougher economic climes, the lure of more money each month can prove overwhelming for some.

Yes, that extra money in your pocket will give you a bit more freedom but what about the impact on your total compensation? What is the average bonus payout at your new firm? How much lower will it be in your first couple of years? Will you be working more hours for only slightly more pay?

These are all factors to take into consideration before making your decision. As a benchmark you should secure a 20% increase offer before thinking about moving just for money alone.

2) Career Progression – Have you been overlooked for the promotion? Do you feel like all your hard work is going unrecognised?

These are common reasons for people looking to move firms. A lack of engagement and recognition can send workers running for the nearest recruitment firm and employers need to be able to recognise the signs and implement fixes.

However, think twice before leaving for a new title and shiny business card you can show your friends.  Ask yourself the following questions first:

- Have I had an honest conversation with my manager about the lack of career progression? This is the fist step and you need to be open to constructive feedback and develop an action plan.

- Have you met the goals you set at the start of the year? Have you exceeded expectations where possible? If not, then you need to look at why and what was holding you back.

- Does the new job offer actually provide progression from your current role? Being a ‘Head of …’ doesn’t always translate into career progression. You need to fully understand the scope of your new roles and what your responsibilities will entail.

- Have you asked about your current firm’s training plans for the upcoming year? An increasing number of firms are investing larger amounts in training as a method to retain staff. Identifying the correct courses for your own development could help you meet your goals faster and be identified as a future leader.

- Have you considered an internal move to a different department? Sometimes a change of team, a new manager, and working with new products can provide the impetus to kick-start your career to the next level.

3) Bad Manager – According to a recent Gallup survey of over 1,000,000 American workers, the number one reason for leaving your job is unhappiness with your current manager, and this is no different in the banking industry.

With long hours, high stress, and challenging targets, your manager is under a lot of pressure and this can negatively impact you. This can be a difficult topic to approach with them but a good manager will welcome feedback on their performance however difficult it is to hear.

It’s important to have this discussion with them before escalating your concerns to senior management. As a last resort, a move into a different team could eliminate the problem but if you do decide to quit based on this alone, you have no guarantees that your new manager will be a good one.

During my time recruiting in Singapore, I have seen countless CVs that show persistent changing of jobs every 12 to 18 months. This can have an adverse effect on your application and hiring managers are more likely to dismiss them unless there are good reasons behind the moves.

For those with ambition of reaching the top, when 1,001 top CEOs were interviewed, the average number of firms they’ve had in their career is 3 and a quarter had stayed at the same firm their entire career. Therefore you need to think about the potential damage you’re doing to your CV before making another move.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t move if a great opportunity comes along but once you’ve made that decision, take another day to think through some of the above questions and ask yourself again whether you’re moving for the right reasons.

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