Think You Are Productive At Work? Think Again.


After spending the first half of the morning reading and clearing emails, followed by working on a project for the entire afternoon before heading home, it might seem that your work day was relatively productive. After all, you managed to get some progress on that important project that your team has won right?

Well, that might not be the case as compared to the rest of the world!

A recent study conducted by enterprise software firm Unit4, has found that office workers in Singapore are the least productive among the 11 countries surveyed. The firm surveyed approximately 1,500 office workers in the service sector from these countries: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore, Spain, France, Netherlands, Germany, Norway and Sweden. While the study found that Singapore workers spend a significant amount of time (60%) on their main work duties, this is still lower as compared to the poll average of 72%. Essentially, an approximate 380 hours a year are spent on completing administrative or repetitive tasks. Converting this to work days, this figure is equivalent to 47.5 work days or two months of the entire working year.

Comparing across the different age group, respondents aged 41 and above estimate that they spend significantly more time on their primary duties as opposed to those aged 26 to 30.

Moreover, the survey results came out amidst studies that show labour productivity in Singapore is decreasing as a result of challenges from structural transformation and ageing demographics.

While this result might not have a significant impact on office workers, this loss of productivity can have a detrimental impact on the Singapore service industry. In fact, the study revealed that this drop in productivity is costing the Singapore service industry more than SGD36.5 billion a year! Given the fact that the Singapore economy has been placing more emphasis on the services sector over the past few decades, this will certainly hit the services sector hard.

The study also identified the amount of time in which Singapore office workers spend on specific daily administrative tasks that prevent them from focusing on their primary work. 30% of respondents cited manually collating and entering data as one of the main reasons and 26% citied tracking their project status as one of the administrative tasks that affected their primary work. Other reasons citied included handling invoices as well as submitting expenses and planning travels.

However, Unit4 mentioned that technological advancements such as digitalisation or software applications can help employees manage administrative repetitive tasks. This will then free up more time for office workers to spend their time on more value-added services. Moreover, more than a quarter of the workers in Singapore surveyed agree that deploying technology that aids administration is important for their company to remain competitive in the long run.

The future of work is no doubt one that is heavily supported by state-of-the-art technology, allowing employees to deliver more value to their customers as opposed to their direct competitors. This, in turn, will definitely boost the workforce productivity in Singapore, beyond just the services sector.

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This a guest post by RenQun Huang of Gpayroll. The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Zegal may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view. Learn more about guest blogging for Zegal here.

About Gpayroll

Gpayroll is an easy to use, self-run online payroll service that will redefine and revolutionize the payroll industry. Its intuitive and automated system will help business owners focus on their core business without the hassle of managing payroll.

4 Takeaways From The Singapore Budget 2018 For HR Directors


The Singapore Budget 2018 was delivered in Parliament by Minister for Finance, Heng Swee Keat on 19 February 2018. In his speech, he addressed the major shifts that our Singapore society is facing today, namely, the economic shift of Singapore in Asia, the emergence of new technologies and the aging population in Singapore.

Minister Heng also highlighted the goals the Budget 2018 aims to achieve, which involves developing a vibrant and innovative economy in Singapore as well as building up a smarter and greener Singapore society. At the same time, the Budget 2018 also strives to foster a more caring and cohesive society, as well as planning ahead for a fiscally sustainable and secure future for Singapore.

With numerous plans being laid out to address the current and future needs of Singapore, here are 4 highlights of the Budget 2018 that are most relevant to manpower and HR challenges.

1. Increased support for businesses and workers

The Wage Credit Scheme (WCS) has been extended for an additional three years and will continue to provide co-funding of wage increases for Singaporean employees. The WCS will co-fund 20% of wage increases for 2018, 15% for 2019 and 10% for 2020. This extension will cost approximately SGD1.8 billion over the next three years.

There have been previous announcements on the intention to increase Foreign Worker Levy rates. However, for the sectors that still face weakness, particularly the Marine Shipyard and Process sectors, the increase in Foreign Worker Levy rates will be deferred for another year.

There will be efforts to strengthen employment support for lower to middle income workers through the Career Trial scheme, an upgrade from the existing Work Trial Scheme, which will provide higher funding to support workers to try out new careers.

2. Encouraging innovation and building the capabilities of the workforce

The Budget aims to support businesses to purchase and make use of new solutions by offering a single Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG).

In order to help business partner with relevant companies to build innovate and build new solutions, the Government will pilot the Open Innovation Platform, a virtual crowd-sourcing platform, in 2018.

In a bid to ensure that employees in Singapore keep up with ever-evolving digital skills, there will be an expansion of the Tech Skills Accelerator (TeSA) into new sectors such as manufacturing and professionals services, whereby digital technologies are increasingly important.

3. Supporting adoption of digital technology in firms

To drive further adoption of digital technologies, automation and robotics, programmes such as the Aviation Transformation Programme (ATP), Maritime Transformation Programme (MTP) and National Robotics Programme (NRP) will be launched in Singapore.

4. Forge stronger local and cross-border partnership

The eventual goals is to anchor Singapore as a Global-Asia node of technology, innovation and enterprise. As such, the Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) was launched in 2018 for Singaporeans to gain valuable experience and networking outside the local borders.

Similarly, there will be more initiatives such as the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (SWITCH) as well as development of an ASEAN Innovation Network which will hopefully foster closer relations with Singapore’s neighbouring countries. At the same time, build a business partnership with overseas companies.

You may read more about the Singapore Budget 2018 here.

Start managing your legal needs with Zegal today

This a guest post by RenQun Huang of Gpayroll. The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Zegal may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view. Learn more about guest blogging for Zegal here.

About Gpayroll

Gpayroll is an easy to use, self-run online payroll service that will redefine and revolutionize the payroll industry. Its intuitive and automated system will help business owners focus on their core business without the hassle of managing payroll.

Hiring Employees in the UK? Contracts, Policies and Procedures to Consider

If your small business is expanding and you are thinking of taking on employees then what do you need to consider? Getting the right candidate for the job is firstly essential and that will depend upon implementing an effective recruitment process.

If you have selected the right candidate then where do you go from there and how do you create a valuable company culture that ensures retention of staff? What workplace policies or procedures do you need to think about implementing to ensure a positive working environment and maximise productivity?

Offer of Employment

Once you have selected your potential employee then the first step is to send an Offer of Employment Letter. This is a formal letter stating a conditional offer of employment to the candidate. Whilst this letter does not have to contain the full details of the employment terms, it should at least summarise them. It is important to include in this letter a deadline by which the candidate should accept or decline the position.

The letter must include details of the job such as salary, benefits and number of days of annual leave. It should also state if there is a probation period and notice required for termination of employment. A potential employee must accept the offer under the Offer of Employment Letter by the specified deadline. After acceptance, the employer and the employee will enter into a formal Employment Contract.

Related reading: 5 Top Tips for Onboarding New Hires

Employment Contract

An Employment Contract sets out specific details on various aspects of employment and clearly states the rights and duties of both employer and employee. It is essential to have this formality in place, indeed every UK employee has a statutory right to a written agreement of employment. It is also recommended to have this contract in place to help avoid any disputes in the future.

The contract should include specific details of the job and the duration of any probation period if there is one. Remuneration package, holiday entitlement and notice required for termination are also necessary inclusions.

It is important to include certain statutory provisions in the terms of employment or you can risk a fine. Statutory rights of employees include receiving an itemised payslip, being paid the national minimum wage, entitlement to 28 days paid holiday (including bank holidays) and in some cases, maternity pay. Statutory sick pay and also enrolment into a workplace pension scheme are also necessary provisions.

Employment Law

Expanding a business and taking on employees is a very exciting time. It does however require your company to adhere to all the necessary laws and regulations when hiring employees. Employment law includes a number of different laws and acts in relation to the rights of employees.

As well as outlining statutory rights of employees, employment law identifies various other issues. These include ensuring health and safety compliance, discrimination rights, senior rights, regulations against bullying and requirements for maternity/paternity or adoption leave.

Further reading on this important topic can be found in the relevant section of the UK Government Website.

Employment Policies and Procedures

It is recommended that employers have some written employment and HR policies in place. These are necessary to clearly stipulate expectations and processes and can also reduce legal risk. Clear policies will also contribute towards a positive working environment and reduce conflict in the workplace. If any issues do arise, these policies will help you to deal with them.

Data Protection Policy ensures that everyone in a company understands the importance of data protection and data security. Employees are informed about how their personal data is handled, as required by the law. The policy describes procedures for collecting, working with, and storing data in the company.

It also covers the rules that employees must adhere to in the handling and collection of customer personal data. This ensures that the company fulfils its legal obligation to protect the security of personal data. With the new GDPR rules coming into force on 25th May, such policies will be mandatory for any company that handles data of any resident in the European Union.

A Health and Safety Policy sets out your commitment to health and safety in the workplace and states your responsibilities and legal obligations as an employer. The policy also covers an employee’s responsibilities for workplace health and safety.

The details of this policy will include safe practices and procedures to be followed in order to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses. It will also stipulate attendance requirements for health and safety training workshops as well as emergency procedures and consequences for not abiding with the policy.

Bring Your Own Device Policy covers an employee’s acceptable use of personal devices on corporate networks, defines security controls, and describes supported devices and apps. It ensures that the company’s network security is not compromised. The policy also outlines the procedure during termination of employment, as well as disciplinary consequences for violations.

Related reading: The lowdown on Bring Your Own Device Policies

Social Media Policy is important in order to educate employees on the legal and security risks involved in social networking and what they can do to protect themselves and the company. A clear and informative policy encourages employees to use caution and good judgement at all times. It can also protect employees from online bullying and harassment.

Such a policy is crucial to adequately protect a company’s brand and business interests while upholding their employees’ personal data rights and freedom of speech. It covers legal issues that could arise for the company, including confidentiality, intellectual property infringement, and defamation, as well as personal liability of the employee.

Disciplinary Policy and Procedure provides a framework for a company to handle situations where employees have not met the required standards of conduct. It sets out a clear process for your disciplinary procedure and can be very useful in any future disputes.

This policy is intended to ensure prompt, consistent, and fair treatment for all employees and to enable both the employee and the company to be clear about the expectations of both parties.

Some Final Thoughts

Bringing fresh talent on board could be the key to expanding your enterprise so don’t be hesitant in taking the next step. With the right contracts and policies in place you can create a company culture that values and rewards its employees and attracts even more talent!

You might consider producing an employee handbook that provides guidelines for everyone in the workplace. Employees will feel more valued and organised as a result and will also positively contribute to retention of staff.

Zegal can provide you with guidance and ensure all your employee contracts and workplace policies and procedures are in place: 

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How to Design a Successful Performance Bonus Plan


By Neo Shi Qin, DecodeHR

Bonuses are commonly used by companies as a motivational tool for employees. In the past decade or so, we have seen an increasing trend in performance-related pay as competition amongst enterprises as well as maturity of the workforce rise.

However, employee bonuses run the risk of becoming double-edged swords. They are great motivators, but they can also become de-motivators when employees become accustomed to them and view bonuses as an entitlement.

The success of a performance bonus plan lies in the design of the framework and the execution of the plan. In this article, we share some tips on areas to consider when designing a performance bonus plan.

1. Use Multiple Metrics

Very often, companies make the mistake of setting simple targets by assessing performance against a simple metric with the hope that it will capture an array of behaviours. The problem with this is that employees optimize their compensations based on how they are structured. If a bonus structure only provides one metric, all of the employees’ efforts go towards optimizing that metric and this may undermine the other goals of the organization. For example, when given a single metric of Net Profit, employees may shift their focus on cost cutting measures and neglect product innovation.

2. Equitable 

Company performance bonus plans in particular, should be equitable across all departments in the organization. The plan terms should apply to everyone and not only to selected departments or employees to eliminate potential unhealthy rivalry, and to create an environment where employees are given the opportunity to contribute their best efforts.

3. Gradated

When designing the bonus plan, pay-outs at each achievement level should be considered. Besides allowing employees to strive for higher levels, the tiered pay-outs also allow the company to better recognize the better performing employees by differentiating their reward.

Related Reading: The 5 Key Features of a Good Incentive Plan

4. Objective

Bonus pay-outs should always be based on measurable results and not subjective opinions. One goal setting model that companies can adopt is the S.M.A.R.T. Goals framework, where achievements of each employee are measured against goals which are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.

5. Simple

In our consulting experience, we have come across companies with such complex bonus plans that the employees are left feeling discontented even though the pay-outs are well above the market, simply because they do not understand how the plan works. For the bonus plan to be effective, it has to be simple enough to be easily communicated and understood.

Start managing your legal needs with Zegal today

This article is a guest contribution by Neo Shi Qin of DecodeHR. The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Zegal may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view. Learn more about guest blogging for Zegal here.

About DecodeHR

DecodeHR provides strategic advice and high-impact solutions to clients primarily in Asia, specializing in the areas of Strategic HR Reviews, Competency Frameworks Development, Strategic Workforce Planning, Pre and Post Merger & Acquisition integration and Transformation projects.

Our strength is our deep knowledge of Singapore and Asia, and this is coupled with experience in the international arena. We distill the best global practices to bring to you practical solutions for maximum impact.

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