Invest in The Singapore Workforce, Part II of III

labour force

This is the second of a three part article contributed by He Shu Han.

Read Part 1 here:

 Read Part 3 here:


M2 takes a completely mirrored approach to M1. Where M1 looks at workers as nuts and bolts in cold machinery, M2 sees workers as cells and organs in a warm living being.

The M2 leadership believes in people, in particular, their own workers. All is important, and must work in sync. One fail, so will others eventually domino down the production line. The philosophy is to create a forward directional strategy which draws involvement from the whole corporate, from the highest strata of management to even the lowest rank and file individual. Essentially, the culture is based on the fact that without good workers, organization management will not even serve to exist in the first place.

In order to achieve this, two objectives must be met. First, it is to ensure that there is a constant growth, and more importantly, continual retention of skilled workers in the organization. Second, it is to ensure that the right person is placed for the right job.

Typically, M2 style encompasses a circular feedback loop system. It combines a “top down” approach and a “bottom up” approach. It is a co-operation model, where the top management and bottom line maintain an open communication channel; continually receiving feedback on front, mid and back office issues, and strives to improve the system as a whole. This way, it is actually beneficial to the organization as the management, through discourses of constant monitoring and understanding of the needs and skill requirements of their workers, get in touch with the ground (and the real market as well), whilst the workers are drive psychologically in a positive way to co-operate with any training and placement since they feel as part of a big family, and have placed their trust in their leaders who earned them in the first place.

It makes perfect sense to invest in the workforce, as the decision to train them is derived from real, actual market information (demand and supply), and the management is only investing in their workers in belief that a future return of investment will materialize.

However, one may ask: “The training part is relatively direct. What about the retention part?”

Various organizational behaviors studies have clearly demonstrated that the top reason why workers leave, other than wage/salary, is the notion of job satisfaction. In the last decade Singapore has managed to greatly reduce the effects of structural unemployment, ie. Job mismatch issues and worker redundancy. Although, PMET job mismatching cases are getting more prevalent in the current economy In today’s context, frictional unemployment is in my opinion a rising threat to the Singapore economy and it is theorized that if workers are not psychologically pleased, they will likely leave despite having similarly competitive pay between organizations. One of the key positive influencers on this is continual workfare training and support.

A well trained worker, placed in a suitable position, does his job well. A job well done combined with appropriate recognition and reward produces good workers. Good workers produce higher quality goods and services which customers enjoy. That translates to more profits and creates happier employers. If the employers open their hearts to taking in the recent advice of the National Wage Council (NWC) where reasonable profits should be distributed to contributing workers, it is more likely that NTUC’s vision of “Better employers, Better workers, Better customers” will come to fruition.

Would the probability of a trained worker stay with the organization increase exponentially if both the individual and the environment are conducive for their long-term well-being? I strongly believe there is a positive correlation. At least, both cardinal and ordinal utility theories suggest a great possibility of this outcome.

Alas, in certain industries which involves high technology and trade secrets, it is better to use “own people” than “mercenaries” for strategic and security considerations. Again, this is where M2 prevails over M1.

Yet, putting all positive benefits aside, a few problems still persists.

First, there are still costs involved in training workers. How do we reduce this?

Second, some workers will still jump ship and again, it is costly to recruit replacements. How do we make it more efficient?

Third, what about those workers who are currently unemployed due to classical unemployment and cyclical unemployment? How do we accentuate a more even workforce distribution?

Lastly, a better trained worker does not automatically guarantee him a job. How do we go about tackling this?

In the final part of this article, these issues will be briefly discussed and addressed.

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