Below is the email sent to me from my aunty who’s a manager at a large business firm in Singapore. I hope this helps people to have a better understanding of Singapore’s workplace culture:
“I will list down some of the characteristics of Singapore work place as follows;
-Very common to have multi-national, multi-cultural and multi-religion work place especially in bigger companies.
-Generally english speaking although among the chinese workers there is a high usage of mandarin in their communication both on work related and non-work related issues. Malay are used among malays colleague. But official communication are mostly done in english.
-Work place are generally fast similar to hongkong or tokyo.
-Official working hours are 44 hours per week, mostly done in a 5 days week basis for white collar office work. Therefore official work hours generally start between 8-9 am in the am and end 5-6pm in the afternoon. But it is very common for people to leave their work place at least 1-2 hours after the official end of work hours without any kind of compensation or benefit paid by the company for this extra hours spent.
Blue collar manaufacturing work normally work on the 8 hours shift work and they generally get overtime pay for any additional time put in in their work place.
For people in the financial, international trades and IT related sector, its is expected that you might have to put in very long hours outside of your official work hours as and when you job calls for( and this is very common, for example, and investment analyst might have to put in 12-13 hours per days when they are working on projects and this might continue for months if they have continue projects). Compensation for this extra hours work are meal/transports allowance and year end bonus.
-Work place relationship are generally professional in nature. Its not a common practice for co-workers to engage in weekly/regular after office hour socialization (like drinking or dinner type of gathering).
Company paid outing/oversea tour/events etc as part of employees benefits sometimes needs lots of persuasion and supervisor pressure in order to get participation. General to hear people commenting “they prefer company pay them the cash and the days-off for them to plan/organize their own tour either with their own selected colleagues or with their own family members”.
Having said that, people are generally friendly and warm in their work place. Most of the time, they identify themselves with their company and team spirit are generally positive.
-Work place are competitive in nature. semi annual and/or annual Individual assessment are made, job tenure and bonus are determined basis this assessment.
-I would say that workers in generally are well trained and have positive work attitude. Meritocracy is widely practice in work place. Seniority is respected but not a big factors in consideration for promotion.
-Continuous learning is encouraged both by the company and government. Company and government have lots of study cost assistance scheme to help worker defray part or all of their continue education costs.
-Although permanent employment contract is still the majority of employment term. More specific tenure contract( ie 2-3 years tenure and subject to mutual re-negotiation and renewal upon expiry of agreement) employment type of arrangement is being used. As such, job hop is getting more common as both employer and employee are always on the look out to find their best opportunities. Similarly, it is becoming very common for groups of people to move across to competitors in the same industry. You can say a mercenary type of work culture exist in some of the industry especially in the finance and international trading related industry.
-The job market is competitive. Most company are doing away with expatraite terms for their expat employees as it appears there are lots of expat wanted to work in Singapore.
As a result, its is becoming a common sight to see expat live among the normal Singaporean in the government housing estate, going to the same hawker center for meal and wet market for their grocery shopping, taking buses/MRT.”