Singapore Is Near Last In Employee Engagement In Asia-Pacific: Here's How to Fix It

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Home > Articles > Singapore Is Near Last In Employee Engagement In Asia-Pacific: Here's How to Fix It

 Singapore Is Near Last In Employee Engagement In Asia-Pacific: Here's How to Fix It

Eylon Cohen | Today's Manager
September 1, 2018

Employee engagement is key to productivity and success. Companies with high employee engagement vastly outperform ones with lower rates, with employee engagement directly impacting work performance and attrition rates.

The consensus among academics and the business community is that employee engagement is key to productivity and success. Studies indicate that companies with high employee engagement vastly out-perform ones with lower rates, with employee engagement having a direct impact on work performance and attrition rates.

Recent studies show that employees in Singapore are significantly less engaged than their regional counterparts, negatively affecting business outcomes and the financial success of local enterprises. An engagement rate of 59 per cent puts Singaporean employees among the least engaged in the region, suggesting a pressing need to rectify the situation.

Employers should increasingly look towards leveraging technologies such as video that can help enhance internal communication, and provide employees with an avenue to reach out to the larger organisation. Studies have shown that feeling like you are part of a company often serves as a bigger motivator than money. Maximising human potential is forecasted to be a key determinant in organisational success in the years ahead, in view of an imminent talent shortage that is expected to constrain business prospects in Asia-Pacific.

Employees in Singapore are less engaged than their regional counterparts, negatively affecting business outcomes and the financial success of companies, recent studies show.

Aon Hewitt put employee engagement on the island nation at around 59 per cent 1, significantly lower than India, Philippines, China, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia where they are as high as 76 per cent. These findings are echoed by separate studies from Robert Half 2 and Gallup 3.

Improving this important metric, which measures an employee’s personal and professional investment in their work, can boost business. Like any challenge however, the first stop towards its resolution is understanding its causes.

What is Employee Engagement and Why Does it Matter?
Former US President John F Kennedy once asked a cleaning employee at NASA what he did, goes an oft cited story. “I’m helping put a man on the moon,” responded the cleaner. This exchange is often given as a successful example of employee engagement: The cleaning employee felt his job was an integral part of a much larger mission and his enthusiastic response expressed involvement, commitment and, likely, reflected productivity—the three pillars of employee engagement.

Since the 1990s, researchers have measured these three metrics as a way to help companies better understand and improve their work environments. Studies show committed employees perform 20 per cent better and are 87 per cent less likely to leave. Companies with high employee engagement can outperform ones with lower rates by 200 per cent 4. Feeling part of a company is often a bigger motivator than money, per the Harvard Business Review 5. The consensus among academics and the business community is that employee engagement is a key to productivity and success.

Why are Singaporean Employees Less Engaged?
There are probably multiple factors, but here are a few for your consideration: 

  • One reason for lower engagement in Singapore is that local companies are not focussing enough on internal communications, according to a nation study by 6 Interviews with 507 employees revealed “communications and collaboration tools [at] workplaces…are not mobile-friendly and are not embedded into the applications and browsers that employees ‘live in’ every day”,
  • In addition, some 39 per cent of employees spent significant time away from their desks each month and relied on tele or video conferencing to communicate in addition to E-mails and other forums of information exchange. A staggering 70 per cent said they would like technology to generate a better, more communicative work environment,
  • Another cause for low engagement is that teaching and training methods are still old fashioned. Classrooms, for instance, which rely on the immediate availability and proximity of employees, are still the most common method 7 of sharing information—even though better, cheaper options that rely on technology exist, and
  • Finally, Singaporean companies also tend to be more international. That means employees are spread over the globe, making communication more challenging.

How Video can Help Boost Employee Engagement
Video is currently the preferred medium amongst millennials and post-millennials, with approximately one billion hours of YouTube content consumed on a daily basis. 8 Most employees are already using video in their daily lives for entertainment, communication, and learning.

Video has proven to be a highly engaging tool that is extremely effective for learning, communication, and change management. Employees are 82 per cent more likely to learn from visual content like video over static content like PDFs, according to a Kaltura survey.9 Gartner has forecasted 75 per cent of employees to interact with video at least three times daily by 2018. 10

Enhancing Training
With a unique ability to encompass all other types of content (e.g. text, music, visuals), videos make information more digestible, making it an extremely effective tool for training purposes. Interactive features may also be embedded into video content to increase engagement levels and allow organisations to track viewership or feedback from employees.

Once produced, video content could be reused throughout all levels of the organisation, reducing duplication of efforts or assets. The ability to add subtitles and voice-overs make it extremely easy for organisations to adapt a single video for use across regional offices.

Organisations can create a video repository accessible by all employees, which serves the basic purpose of ensuring all information disseminated throughout an organisation is standardised. A repository enables employees to access training resources at their own time and convenience, and will also support the use of just-in-time training, which grants employees in the field the ability to refer to materials on demand.

Deconstructing Silos
Globalisation has served to spur regional expansion among Singaporean firms 11, with overarching trade agreements having made it easier and cheaper for firms to establish a presence abroad.

With decentralised offices on the rise, videos often represent the only channel for employees to put a face to co-workers based in other offices. Providing tools for video creation, video editing, and the ability to share these videos empowers employees and teams to share the knowledge they have, facilitating collaboration within organisations.

Applying the Human Touch to Leadership
Organisations need to be aware that a lack of effective communication can create a chasm between employers and employees. Many employees are not sufficiently driven to deliver on organisational goals because they feel ‘invisible’ to employers, who are perceived to have no vested interest in employees’ personal success.

Case Studies of Companies Bridging the Gap Between IT and Employee Engagement Skanska Leverages Video to Build ‘OneSkanska’ Culture 12
Skanska turned to their employees to find out what their needs and expectations were for collaboration, information, and knowledge sharing. Through 100 personal interviews and a survey for 2,200 employees that generated 1,700 responses, Skanska charted not only how their employees shared knowledge across the organisation, but the way in which they understood the effect their individual contributions had on the organisation.

The exercise resulted in the launch of a “I Love OneSkanska” digital platform which includes an enterprise wide Intranet—an employee collaboration, and OneSkanska Play—a world-class video platform that Skanska is currently using to connect distant teams, support employee communication, and promote learning and sharing.

Philips’ BlueTube—The Voice of the Organisation and Employees 13
Philips employees are using video to share their stories and inspire others. Using BlueTube, an internal video media platform, employees were able to share their ideas and views on what the Philips brand means to them and how its products have made an impact on their lives in a seamless and authentic fashion within the company. Ultimately, this intimate sharing has led to an overall improvement in internal communications within Philips.

The Upcoming APAC Labour Crunch—Is Your Organisation Ready?
Technology will play a central role in APAC’s enterprises, especially in view of an imminent talent shortage 14 expected to constrain growth. Singapore will likely be one of the hardest hit, with 75 per cent of business leaders expecting their prospects to be affected. Investing in people by using innovative technologies 15 such as video can help prepare for such a reality and give your business the boost it needs to succeed.

1 Ang J, 29 March 2018. Singaporeans continue to be among the least engaged in Asia-Pacific, Human Resources, Singapore,

2 Robert Half, 1 August 2016. More than half of Singaporean companies have ‘mentally absent’ employees, Singapore, https://www.roberthalf.

3 Lee M, 10 October 2013. S’pore Workers Among World’s Least Engaged: Gallup Poll, ST Jobs, The Business Times, Singapore,

4 Levin M, 15 August 2016. Want to Double Your Employees’ Loyalty? Science Says Provide These 3 Things, Inc, United States,

5 Chamorro-Premuzic T, 10 April 2013. Does Money Really Affect Motivation? A Review of the Research, Havard Business Review, United States,

6 Networks Asia Staff, 8 June 2017. Employees in Singapore lack the tools for effective collaboration, 2017, Networks Asia, Singapore,

7 Wentworth D, 30 November 2016. Top Spending Trends For Training 2016-2017, Training, United States,

8 Etherington D, 28 February 2017. People now watch 1 billion hours of YouTube per day, TechCrunch, United States,

9 Rapt Media, 2016. Today’s Employees: Detached, Disengaged, Disenchanted, Kaltura, United States,

10 Panopto, 27 April 2017. 50 Facts, Stats, and Trends Someone At Your Company Should Know About Business Video, United States,

11 Chiu WH, 20 November 2015. What’s in store for SMEs in 2016?, The Business Times, Singapore,

12 Finkelstein A, 2017. Intranet 2.0: Video as Part of the Global Digital Workplace at Skanska, Kaltura Connect, United States,

13 Morrison S, 2014. Sharing Stories That Inspire at Philips | Kaltura Case Study, Kaltura Video Hub, United States,

14 Chinnuswamy Y, 21 August 2017. Asia-Pacific business leaders forecast talent shortages, HRM Asia, Singapore,

15 Syed N, 8 May 2018. More turning to HR tech to solve talent woes, HRD Asia, Singapore,


Mr Eylon Cohen is Vice President and General Manager, Asia-Pacific, Enterprise and Education for Kaltura, Inc. He previously managed sales relationships and service providers in all sectors and industries within the EMEA region for Kaltura. Mr Cohen possesses vast international experience in sales, marketing and business development from more than 20 years spent across Europe, Israel, and Asia. A natural networker, he relishes opportunities to understand the needs of individuals as well as the myriad challenges companies face in today’s competitive environment.


Copyright © 2018 Singapore Institute of Management

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Today's Manager Issue 3, 2018

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