7 ways to win – and keep – government contracts

Acting Minister of Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin recently said that the government will soon favour contractors that pay decent wages to its workers when choosing services providers. Many businesses looking for a sizeable slice of the government expenditure cake have naturally started paying attention to the new policy and are in the process of adjusting employees’ working conditions.

Unlike struggling European countries, Singapore is a bustling city with a generous government budget for the country’s development and infrastructure; the total government expenditure for FY2013 revealed in the Singapore Budget 2013 was estimated to be a whopping $53.41 billion.

That’s a huge market to tap into if you’re a contractor/service provider!

With so many businesses fighting for those tenders and contracts, it is vital to not only find a way to stand out from the crowd but to also do so in a viable and sustainable manner.

Evidently, our government wants to buy services only from good and fair contractors. But what exactly are they looking for?

Here are 7 measures employers can already start implementing in their business operations to make sure they don’t miss out on the great opportunities that only a juicy government contract can offer!

1. Give low wage workers larger built-in wage increases

The latest National Wage Council (NWC) guidelines recommend that employers give low-wage workers larger built-in wage increases in the form of a dollar quantum and a percentage.

The government accepts this recommendation and encourages it, which means companies employing workers earning a basic monthly salary of up to $1,000 should grant these workers a built-in wage increase of at least $60.

2. Share productivity gains with workers

The NWC guidelines also recommend that employers share their productivity gains fairly with workers and in a sustainable manner.

If employers are gaining from productivity improvements (thanks to employee skill upgrading, for instance), then they should consider increasing workers’ wages and handing out bonuses where possible.

3. Provide appropriate and adequate training and development for workers

The government provides a range of support to help businesses ensure that their employees, the country’s workforce, have the proper skills to stay competitive in an increasingly specialised and globalised job market.

Companies should tap onto these available funding and assistance programmes (the Quality Growth Programme that was announced this year and the Workfare Training Support Scheme, for example) to provide workers with ample opportunities for development and growth.

4. Facilitate and encourage work-life balance

The Government encourages all businesses to implement work-life balance strategies to allow employees to fulfil their professional responsibilities without sacrificing their personal lives.

Proactively supporting work-life balance (flexible work arrangements, enhanced leave benefits, and employee support schemes) is a win-win situation for employers, as the company benefits from a more engaged and productive workforce and employees are thankful for the great work environment.

5. Facilitate and encourage a healthy lifestyle

A healthy lifestyle is not only good for the well-being of the workforce as a whole, it also allows employers to save on medical bills and health insurance coverage.

This is also a big plus for the government, as it ensures that the current adult population is fit to actively take part in the workforce and thus support the increasingly ageing population of Singapore.

The Health Promotion Board, for instance, offers a Workplace Health Promotion grant that can help companies start health programmes for their employees.

6.Create an inclusive and harmonious workplace

Singapore’s workforce is made up highly diverse individuals from different races, religions, cultures, and generations. It is important for companies to implement policies and practices that will inculcate an inclusive and harmonious working environment, as a well-managed diverse workforce can bring better business performance and higher employee engagement.

The Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices, for instance, has an E-learning start-up kit and a toolkit for managing workplace diversity that businesses can refer to.

7. Hiring mature workers

As Singapore’s population is ageing, older employees are becoming a significant asset that the government hopes businesses will appreciate and use as they are a valuable source of manpower with unparalleled experiences and skills.

The Tripartite Committee on Employability of Older Workers was formed in 2005, and their recommendations of expanding employment opportunities for older workers, raising their value and skills, as well as shaping positive perceptions of the older workforce have been taken up by the government. They also provide guidelines on the Re-employment of Older Employees.

These are only some of the measures businesses can start implementing to increase their chances of winning government contracts!

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Vince Chen

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