Filling the Employee Engagement Gap in SMEs

Employment Gap.jpg​

In today's manpower-lean economy, employee engagement is more crucial than ever to achieve overall business excellence. However, employee engagement to attract, develop and retain talents is an uphill battle for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The SME human resource (HR) role has been traditionally, and largely, a tactical function in a SME's operations. Weaker employer branding, lesser development opportunities and employment packages sub-par to bigger organisations may be reasons why jobseekers may avoid SMEs. These reasons may motivate SME employees to consider leaving the companies.

An Aon Hewitt study in 2015 revealed that 50% of SME employees are considering leaving their organisations for better opportunities. Trends like high turnover and absenteeism would ultimately impact SME performance. This bodes further ill for SMEs and on the macro level, costing the economy and nation millions in lost productivity.

Compared to bigger organisations, SMEs have a flatter hierarchy and less people, hence easier for employers to engage their employees, and faster to reap its benefits. To start transforming HR processes, SMEs should look at the 4 Pillars of Employee Engagement as the foundation of their employee journey.


The 4 Pillars of SME Employee Engagement

  • Protection

Other than company internal procedures for workplace grievances, employees should also be educated on other channels such as Workplace Advisory Centres and Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management.

  • Progression

A Robert Half survey revealed that Singaporean employees also desire career development opportunities. SME employers may look to send their employees for upgrading courses for employees to gain new knowledge and introduce innovations at work.

  • Placement

SME employers may also look towards employability and professional development programmes to develop their employees. Career coaching also empowers employers to retain employees with long-term career planning, enabling employees to be meaningfully invested in their work and in the company.

  • Privileges

“If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers." By supporting employees with welfare benefits enabling the best of themselves, employees would be more productive, and thrive on the challenges their jobs bring. Some benefits include group insurance, rebates and discounts with company partners, and more.

Who can help SMEs to increase employee engagement, and in the long run, transform tactical HR to progressive HR?


U SME: assisting SMEs to transform their HR and more

Set up in 2014, U SME is an NTUC initiative which engages and supports SME business leaders and HR practitioners. Through a variety of initiatives, services and resources, U SME assists SMEs in transforming their businesses to achieve productivity and growth, and to take care of SME workers as well.

The U SME Corporate Membership scheme serves to help U SME Partners offer competitive staff welfare offerings on par with those offered by bigger organisations. Employees of U SME​ partners enjoy the following:

  • Support for workplace grievances by Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management, U PME, U Care and Migrant Workers Centre,
  • Training and Enrichment programmes with Funding Assistance such as the Advanced Learning Programme, U SME HR Series and more;
  • Career advisory with Employability and Employment Institute (e2i)
  • Networking sessions, Conferences and Seminars such as U Future Leaders Exchange;
  • Group insurance coverage of up to $40,000;
  • Retail and Recreational privileges with over 1,000 merchant partners.

Employers are to pay for the Membership $10 per month or $120 per year per employee.

For registration and enquiries, please email â€‹