Will You Move For Work?

Will You Move For Work?

Randstad Singapore recently released the latest local results from the third quarter, 2019 Randstad Workmonitor. 58% of those surveyed in Singapore would rather switch careers than relocate to any other country for work. 79% of the respondents are open to the idea of moving overseas if they can have both a meaningful career and a good work life balance. So does it mean that Singaporeans prefer to stay put here or is money an important factor when considering moving out? Jaya Dass, Managing Director for Randstad in Singapore and Malaysia joins us as she shares the interesting findings from the survey and why Singaporeans are willing to relocate for work.

Manisha Tank: Could you tell us a little bit more about the work monitor survey, what was the sample size, are they any specific markets that you surveyed, is there a particular age group cause (I’m guessing) that depending on their age group, their choices would be really different

Jaya Dass: We run the work monitor every quarter to understand what the trends are to look at mobility and so on. In terms of age category, it’s heavily skewed between people (aged) 18-55, those who have entered the workforce and remain there. We do run the workmonitor in other parts of the world globally but for the purpose of what we run here in Singapore, it is contained to Asia.

Elliott Danker: So the survey found that 72% of respondents in Singapore want to work in a job that allows them to travel internationally. Singaporeans, I suppose, they love that flexibility. Is it just a Singaporean habit where we just have this need to travel?

JD: I certainly think we’ve got the best of both worlds. You live in a great city or a country, it’s a great place to be in, geographically. It’s easy to move around from here and travel. So all of us love our holidays and our quick weekend getaway. If you can do that for work and combine the excitement of the travel alongside the exposure in the learning, that’s a sweet deal. So most Singaporeans look forward to that, if they can. As long as it doesn’t make it difficult for them to travel like if they’ve got kids or taking care of dependance, (that) will change the equation. But otherwise, I think the average person would love that combination.

MT: 78% of those between age 18 -34 are willing to relocate to pursue a meaningful career. Why is there a high percentage in that age bracket that’s willing to relocate?

JD: If (this group has had) the opportunity to study overseas for their tertiary qualifications, many of them like the idea of being able to continue with that experience and work overseas as well. If you haven’t and you have been locally educated, then it’s a bucket list to tick off if you like. When you’re younger, you tend to be more adventurous or less tied to your roots. Basically at that point, most of them are not married, no kids and they have parents who are still relatively young. So the idea of needing to be grounded in one place is not significant. So I think that’s probably the best time of their life to travel and get that exposure. The more junior you are in your career, the less constraints you have from the expectations of title, role, the variety of job scope, salary and so on. You are a lot more open to any opportunity. The more senior you get in your career, you become more specific with what you’re looking for. So the younger you are, the less baggage you have. It’s easier to move around.

ED: Well, let’s talk about those aged above 34 that are considering moving overseas for a career. What’s this number like and what are the factors that comes to mind if you are above this age?

JD: I think if you isolate age and you look at the factors, 81% say that they will move for a substantially higher salary. A further 86% say it is career progression and work life balance. So some factors can actually persuade people to do it. If the income is significantly higher and it means that they are able to provide better for their dependence, a lot of people are willing to consider the move or the hassle that comes with it even if you’re much later in your career. The other (factor) is (having) work life balance or (a better) quality of life. People perceive that they have a better return somewhere else or it goes towards their dreams of what they would expect whether it’s to do with their lifestyle.

MT: There’s also this thing about higher pay isn’t it? You’re only going to take a huge move like that if there’s going to be some monetary incentive.

JD: Surely. When it comes to the topic of salary, you can’t look at it in its isolation. You have to think about tax - what happens when you move to another country? A lot of countries have much higher taxes. (You also have to think about) the cost of your lifestyle, what it takes and I suppose how generous the offer is in terms of being able to take care of your additional pieces, your house, your allowance, whether it covers your retirement fund, your pension scheme. All of these factors come into play when people consider it.

ED: Coming back to this survey, the respondents are open to the idea of moving if they can have a meaningful career and a good work life balance. Is that saying something about (the) working life here in Singapore?

JD: I think the concept of work life balance differs from person to person and what their expectations are. I think a lot of people are attracted to how things progress in Singapore and how dynamic it is. But it’s also whether they like the idea of remaining in the city for the rest of their life. A lot of people picture living out in the countryside, walking by the beach and so on. So when it comes to choices, it’s very individualistic on how the person is wired.

MT: For those Singaporeans who want to go abroad, where are they choosing to go?

JD: Well Australia came up top, no surprise there. It’s because Australia is a western society and they speak in English - that’s always a plus point. (It’s also) really close to home compared to (countries like) Canada. The weather in Australia is very easy and a lot of people are attracted to the lifestyle you get there.

MT: Are there any Southeast Asian cities?

JD: Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of people interested in moving to Thailand. For example, more Singaporeans are attracted to the idea of working and living in China. So there is definitely a growing interest in the Asian market, especially since we are starting to do better. And the opportunities there, more people are drawn to that.

ED: Let’s talk about those respondents who say they want to stay put here. Why do they want to do that?

JD: If you are married with kids, you start to get into a lot more considerations, your spouse’s career, the family support needed to take care of the children. There’s no doubt that Singapore has got one of the best education systems globally. Taking your children out of school and relocating them, that’s not the easiest thing to do. So parents think a lot about that as well. The other concept is Asian values. For us, it’s very common to be rooted among our larger community. And people find Singapore a safe and good economy to live in. So you are giving up a lot when you move away from here. So (relocating for work) is not everyone’s cup of tea.

Listen to the full podcast as Jaya Dass shares how the economic slow down in Singapore has affected the respondents' view on moving abroad for work.

Download the podcast.

For more, tune in to #TheBreakfastHuddle with Elliott Danker, Manisha Tank and Finance Presenter Ryan Huang, every weekday from 6 - 9 AM!

This interview was broadcasted on MONEY FM 89.3 on 5 November 2019.

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