I am a manager from Europe leading a team of 8 in a multinational company based in Singapore. We pay well and hire experienced people and university graduates.

I desperately would like to hire more Singaporeans for openings, but there are some problems:

1) Many Singaporean applicants do not speak proper English (wrong use of tenses, singular/plural, passive particle etc). I am not an English native speaker and still my English is better than most younger Singaporean graduates. I am not against Singlish and find it fun and charming in a private setting. In the workplace it is just unprofessional and annoying though.

2) Lack of efficiency: Arriving at 9 o’clock, endless chatting in the pantry, unnecessary meetings, 2 hour lunches and then complaining about having to work too much overtime. I once saw our Singaporean HR manager who always complains of having no life because of her workload spend one hour gluing business cards onto white sheets of paper so that she could copy them better..To get promoted you need to get things done instead of being “busy”

3) Singaporeans often are sheltered: This is a major problem when working in a multinational company where frequent travel around Asia is needed. Some local colleagues are too scared to go to China and India on business trips. One colleague brought canned food and instant noodles to her India trip and alienated the Indian colleagues. She was taken off the project and another expat did it. Some Singaporeans who live with their parents until marriage and are used to Singapore’s safety and convenience are often not able to cope in other Asian countries on their own.

4) Job-hopping: European companies normally have lower attrition rates than Singaporean ones. Singaporeans tend to change jobs more frequently than Europeans. Bringing in an expat on a three year contract will ensure that the person really stays for the duration of the assignment and does not jump ship for 10% more salary

Still I hope to get more Singaporeans on board. I just wish it wasn’t so hard!


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