With 2023 approaching and Singapore’s labour market that currently favours jobseekers, many Singaporeans may be considering a job change.
Earlier this year, Singapore was hit by the Great Resignation, and it still shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, Ernst & Young’s 2022 Work Reimagined Survey reported that 51 per cent of its Singaporean respondents are prepared to quit their jobs in the next 12 months.
This is not just a common phenomenon in the private sector — the public sector also saw an increase in resignation rates last year. The turnover rate for its management executive scheme, which comprises graduate officers, reached a 10-year peak of 9.9 per cent last year, reported TODAY.
With more people tendering in their resignations, recruitment rates are now at an all-time high since 2015, making it the perfect time for Singaporeans to job-hop.
Job-hopping, once considered as a taboo, is now considered to be a norm in Singapore, especially among Gen Zs and millennials.
According to Career Builder, millennials spend an average of two years and nine months in a role, while Gen Zs spend an average of two years and three months in a role, in contrast to a whopping eight years and three months that baby boomers spend on average in a role.
People are almost always driven by money. It can be argued that money is the biggest motivator for job-hoppers.
According to Randstad’s 2022 Employer Brand Research in Singapore report which surveyed 2,705 respondents, salary and benefits were most sought after by jobseekers. The expectation of getting better remuneration also increases as people age.
However, retaining talent in a company goes deeper than just offering attractive salary packages.
Randstad’s H1 2022 Workmonitor survey found that 56 per cent of its respondents aged 18 to 24 would quit if their jobs prevented them from enjoying life, while 57 per cent of respondents aged 25 to 34 would leave their jobs if they couldn’t enjoy life.
Gen Zs and millennials value a holistic work experience alongside a good work-life balance. They value their physical and mental health, as well as their personal time outside of work.
“I left my previous workplace as I had no work life balance, and was working overtime almost everyday and during the weekends. I just didn’t think it was worth sacrificing my mental and physical health and dragging myself to work every single day,” said Amanda* (names have been changed for privacy reasons), a 28-year-old business analyst who stayed at her previous workplace for four months.
Other than that, career progression and training are areas of increasing importance. Many employees leave as they feel under-utilised and have hit a wall in their careers.
Millennials and Gen Zs want to climb the professional ladder faster, and are not willing to wait three to five years for a promotion, as compared to baby boomers. Adopting a flat organisational structure that promotes people based on promotion instead of longevity in a company would attract Gen Zs and millennials.
Menawhile, baby boomers want to work for a company that “values and invests in its employees, prefer face-to-face interviews, and pay attention to punctuality”, according to Jobstreet. Their jobs are a huge part of their identity as a person.
“I think it’s mostly due to the different environment that each generation grew up in,” said Jerviel Lim, head of people and culture at Tatsu Works.
Baby boomers — defined as people born between the years 1946 and 1964 — had to grow up in an economy that saw unemployment rates in the double digits post World War 2. Around 70 per cent of Singaporeans were living in slums, and the city was overcrowded with people and crumbling, battle-scared buildings.
“Surviving and growing up in tougher times as well as bad economic conditions, baby boomers probably felt the need to stick to their jobs no matter how draining and exhausting it was. They wanted their children to have a good start in life, hence, they worried a lot about money,” added Jerviel.
Most boomers I’ve talked to share a sense of pride in how they have stayed on to a company for many years. They think that sticking on through hard times in a toxic environment is something to be bragged about and displays their resolve.
In contrast, Gen Zs and millennials grew up in a hyperconnected digital economy which has constantly been growing exponentially. They saw the rapid evolution of technology, interactive devices and the Internet.
Growing up in a different environment and culture all together, Gen Zs and millennials search for meaning in what they do. They want to find a sense of purpose in their jobs which aligns with their social views.
Esther*, 25, an accountant, was “dragging herself to work like a zombie” for six months, until she decided she had enough and tendered in her resignation. “I don’t see the point in holding onto a job that I don’t find a purpose in. It makes the job seem transactional to me,” she said.
To baby boomers and the older generations, Gen Zs and millennials may come off as entitled.
Often perceived as weak, the younger generations have many distasteful labels attached to them — the ‘strawberry generation’ and ‘snowflake generation’ — which generalises them as an overly-sensitive, self-entitled and narcissistic generation.
Personally, I have received looks of disapproval when I tell boomers that I had left my previous job in less than three months. I was constantly burnt out and falling ill because of the job, but to the boomers, I was considered to be “fragile”.
The benefits and remuneration I reaped from putting in the effort to work day and night just did not seem to be enough to compensate for the toxic environment I had worked in.
Contrary to boomers’ perceptions, NYC and Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) Social Lab’s national-level longitudinal study of youths in Singapore aged between 17 to 24 found that “youths in Singapore today are both grounded by community values and are more keenly aware of the social issues affecting their fellow countrymen”. 97.7 percent of the youths also felt that success can be achieved with hard work.
Perhaps, Gen Zs and millennials just have an outlet (the Internet and social media) where they can express their frustrations about their jobs and their working environment, which makes them come off as entitled, something the baby boomers never had access to.
Boomers have always thought of their jobs as their lifeline, but times have changed. With an abundance of job opportunities and the rise of the employee market, why should people stick to their jobs if they feel mistreated or think that they can progress further with a job change?
Companies are also generally not loyal to their employees, so why should employees feel the need to do the same?
“Job-hopping is tiring and draining to job seekers too — going through multiple interviews and tests, dealing with the “imposter syndrome” in their new jobs — yet people still do it because they feel as if they have no other choice,” said Jerviel.
Gen Zs and millennials are willing to go above and beyond for their employers, only if their needs are met.
After talking to a few millennials and Gen Zs who I personally know and have job-hopped, most of them reported a salary bump of about 20 per cent, with the highest being 38 per cent.
“I change jobs every one to two years, but I’ve had various reasons for switching jobs. I wasn’t necessarily seeking for a pay raise, but I ended up getting an average increase of 20 per cent every time I did switch jobs,” said Justin*, 26, a finance analyst.
People share the same sentiments online on social media, where most comments point out that the pay raise from job-hopping is way more than what you would get if you stayed on with a company for a couple of years.
“[My] last three job changes all came from recruitment teams who reached out to me. I don’t think job-hopping is sustainable but if the industry is thriving now and the right offer comes along, I’ll go for the ride,” said a user on Reddit.
“At the end of the day, it’s my career to take charge of and my finances to take care of, and no one but me is responsible for that.”
Most companies would rather offer attractive starting salary packages to attract new hires, but not give a decent amount of pay raise to their current current employees.
According to Fortune, this phenomenon is often referred to as “salary compression” by labour economists, where companies “keep a tight rein on raising employees’ salaries, but at the same time, have no choice but to offer high salaries to attract new hires”.
The gap between current longtime employees’ salaries and new hires keep diminishing, which affects longtime employees’ morale and eventually leads to a high turnover rate, causing the company to rake in losses.
How much is too much? Although the salary increase from job-hopping is definitely lucrative, is it really sustainable in the long run?
Candidates who job-hop way too often — say six to eight jobs in the span of eight years — are almost always viewed as a red flag by employers.
After all, someone who job-hops often would end up bringing in losses for the hiring company. The company would be losing its resources, as well as wasting its time training someone who would eventually leave anyway.
It could also show that the candidate lacks the ability of making the right decisions, or can’t get along with their peers.
Jerviel explained that jumping solely due to salary opportunities is hardly sustainable, especially in the post-pandemic era. “Having a sustainable source of income is more important than having salary hikes as it can adversely affect candidates’ professional branding.”
Multiple short stints on a resume will also definitely set a HR’s alarm bell off. A survey done by Milieu Insight in December 2021 found that employers in Singapore are most concerned about job-hoppers being constantly on the look out for better opportunities.
However, it would be foolish for employers to expect their employees to remain loyal, said Jerviel.
Singaporean employers are also worried that these job candidates are still unsure of what they want, and may not be able to handle their work environments.
That being said, sometimes, job-hopping (or resume gaps) may occur due to a multitude inevitable reasons.
“People tend to view job-hoppers through tinted lenses, but some things are out of the job seeker’s control. Some companies put their employees on their retrenchment list because of their health issues, or during times of crisis, so it’s not really [the job-hopper]’s fault for having short stints,” explained Jerviel.
Milieu Insight’s survey also reported that the general perception on job-hoppers appear largely neutral for respondents in Singapore.
However, it is important for job-hoppers to be open and honest during their interviews.
“Job-hoppers should not be entitled and expect every employer to take them in. A valid rational reason to job-hop would most likely accepted by employers, but you cant expect every one of them to hold your story,” said Jerviel.
He added that while being open and honest is important, there’s also a respectful way to talk about past employers.
“Generally, although you may have job-hopped because of a toxic work environment, you can be open and honest about it during an interview, but you shouldn’t point out which person in specific acted out in a certain way towards to you.”
Featured Image Credit: Vulcan Post
Also read: More than just the paycheck: Many S’poreans are quitting in 2022, what would change their minds?
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