HR & EDUCATION | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Two in three Singapore executives struggle with balancing demands of employees and customers

Almost half of businesses have lost talent due to the lack of creative and collaborative opportunities.

Two-thirds or 68% of Singapore executives admit finding it difficult to balance the expectations of their employees, customers and the wider society which is higher than the global average of 66%, according to the global thought leadership survey 2018 by information technology (IT) provider Fujitsu.

Business leaders in Singapore feel the most duty to improve the lives of their employees (68%), followed by their customers (66%) and their wider society (30%) which reflects a similar trend to other regions.

Also read: Employees value work-life balance more than job security

“People have always been vital to business,” Fujitsu Singapore president Wong Heng Chew said in a statement. “The survey findings show that over the last few years, businesses have shifted their focus - where once success felt very much hinged to the customer, it is increasingly clear that employees and citizens within society play a big role as well.”

According to the study, Singapore executives believe that finding a way to deliver to all their audiences will underpin their success in terms of achieving financial growth (78%), building a good reputation (50%) and maximising the potential and creating new opportunities for employees (40%).

Being collaborative and innovative were found to be the top two employee types that companies value as important to their organisation’s access. Whilst most Singapore leaders believe that their staff have the access to the tools they need to be creative (82%) and collaborative (68%), almost half or 48% admit they have lost great employees because they felt ‘stifled and frustrated’.

Also read: Almost half of employees in Singapore not satisfied with workload compensation

“Challenges cited by business leaders that limit the potential of employees in their organisation were too much focus on day-to-day tasks and too little on employee development (52%), limited opportunities for growth and development (34%) and limited chances for employees to contribute new ideas (38%),” Fujitsu observed in its report.

To combat this, 56% of Singapore executives reported establishing manager or leadership development programs, with 50% putting mentoring or reverse-mentoring programs in place and 44% running skill-based training.

Meanwhile, business leaders are also caught in an ongoing battle to deliver to customers at a lower cost whilst coping with a growing lack of trust.

The study revealed that 52% of business leaders believe that customers mistrust more so today than three years ago. Despite this, 74% believe that the relationship between their organisations and its respective customers has improved. In order to further adapt to their customers’ needs, 50% have pointed to digital technology investments to improve business operations and efficiencies on top of enhancing services to customers.

Also read: Can tech solve Singapore's talent and manpower crunch?

“The role of technology comes across strongly across all three audiences,” Fujitsu said in a statement. “84% believe that digital technology is vital for harnessing business innovation at their organisation whilst a further 76% say it has already improved products and services they provide.”

In terms of innovative technology, 72% of Singapore executives believe artificial intelligence (AI) will transform the services they offer customers which is higher than the global average of 61%. More than half (56%) however still worry that society may react negatively to how technology is automating some job functions.

Nevertheless, close to half (46%) of organisations were found to believe they had contributed more to society over the last three years, particularly in their involvement in not-for-profit initiatives (78%), innovating products and services (48%) and protecting customer data (42%). 

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