What is the 2024 career and business-cost landscape going to be in one of the world’s top three most-expensive cities?

In a September 2023 survey of more than 300 corporate and individual clients (professionals and firms) of a job recruitment consultancy in Singapore to gather feedback on 2024 job market trends and expectations, the data led to the following predictions and findings.

The data showed that, while the demand for top talent will remain strong across all industries in 2024, the increased use of digital technology and generative AI, as well as a growing focus on sustainability and ESG in the country, will drive employers to seek workers with such expertise to support these functions.

This was balanced by a finding that 79% of respondents were considering a new job within the next 12 months, drawn by the desire for career progression, and benefits such as bonus packages (87%), flexible work policies (70%), and health-related frills (60%). In this regard, 43% of respondents, even after they had accepted a new job offer, would consider staying for the sake of increased salary (94%); an opportunity for promotion (50%); and a retention bonus (46%). Of those that had stayed on due to good counter-offers, 52% stayed on for two to three years while another 16% had stayed on for five years.

Trends and challenges

The need for AI, technology, sustainability and ESG support is expected to grow even further next year. Some 24% of employers in the survey cited they were currently using AI models as a solution to replace routine tasks or administrative work, and an additional 33% were exploring these implementations within the next 12 months. Some 39% of employees in the survey were “somewhat concerned” about these technology changes in their organizations. Also:

    • Despite a shortage of top talent across all industries represented in the survey (especially for tech and transformation) top challenges cited for recruitment campaigns included:
      • Salary and benefit expectations perceived to be too high (65%)
      • Lack of industry experience (53%)
      • Lack of technical qualifications (36%)
    • In the area of employee retention, top measures that respondents cited had been put in place include increased wellbeing initiatives (74%); improved learning and development (66%); and hybrid work policies (68%).
    • Employees in the survey cited the following pull factors: Work-life-balance initiatives (86%), well-being related services (37%), and initiatives that support diversity, equity and inclusion (35%). Other employee sentiments included:
      • Work-life balance meant spending two (25%) to three days (39%) in the office to employee respondents, but to 47% of employers expected their staff to be at the official office for at least four to five days weekly. Some 9% of employers in the survey were “likely to consider” trying out a four-day work week model.

Industry predictions for Singapore

From the data, it is predicted that next year, Digital, Tech & Transformation, and Generative AI will continue to dominate the agenda for Singapore employers, alongside ESG skillsets (sustainable energy, environmental management and green tech).

Key trends that will impact hiring decisions will be the demand for flexible work policies, boomerang employees, and increased hiring of contract roles/employees.

    • Industries in Singapore that are likely to see the highest attrition: Tech & Transformation (93%); Banking & Finance (87%); Supply Chain & Procurement (80%); and Accounting & Finance (80%).
    • Industries with expected rises in salaries: Tech & Transformation (63%), Supply Chain & Procurement (63%), Sales & Marketing (63%), Human Resources (63%).

According to Monty Sujanani, Country Manager, Robert Walters Singapore, which conducted the survey, firms that wish to appeal to more talent should “adopt a proactive and adaptable approach to address the evolving dynamics in the job market. Focus more on employee benefits and well-being; communicate a clear career and advancement path to manage employee expectations; and strengthen the company culture to be more inclusive. They should also regularly review compensation benefits to stay competitive and put in place processes to keep employees engaged with open channels of feedback.”

Elsewhere in the Singapore’s human socio-economic landscape, businesses are struggling with the super high rentals and operating costs, costs of business necessities and amenities and diminishing returns from paying more to attract talent in such an expensive city.