Gen Z workers breaking away from traditional employment expectations

Gen Z workers are paving the way towards changing expectations of work in Singapore, in response to the disruption caused by COVID-19.

A new study by the ADP® Research Institute, People at Work 2021: A Global Workforce View, reveals that young workers are less likely to choose full-time work amidst a rise in employer scrutiny.

There are signs of change to the prevailing culture of work in Singapore as only around half (54 per cent) of Gen Z workers (aged 18-24) would choose to work in full-time traditional employment over part-time or contract roles, compared to a national average 76 per cent.

On their reasons for choosing part-time or contract employment, a third (32 per cent) cited concerns about the job security offered by traditional employment as compared to gig work or freelancing.

One in four (24 per cent) also reported a change in personal priorities and needs as a driving factor.

The shift away from wanting full-time work amongst young workers in Singapore comes at a time when employer expectations for productivity are at an all-time high, partly due to the increase in remote working during COVID-19.

Long after the pivot to remote work resulted in mass workplace restructuring, 54 per cent of employers still monitor timekeeping and attendance of employees more closely than ever, and 46 per cent of employees feel “judged” for using flexible work arrangements.

Workers in Singapore are working an average of 9.4 unpaid hours per week, up from 7.3 hours pre-pandemic.

Unpaid overtime includes working during breaks, starting early or staying late, or regularly putting in several hours of extra work each day for no additional pay.

31 per cent of workers also say they work more than ten hours of unpaid overtime weekly – an increase from 19 per cent pre-pandemic.

There has been widespread disruption to the 9-to-6 working model. Workers are now routinely clocking up what amounts to more than a full working day’s worth of unpaid overtime every single week. Many may be going the extra mile due to concerns about their job security, to compensate when colleagues have lost their jobs. For the generation entering the workforce amidst these conditions, it is not surprising that they would prioritise flexibility and be able to work on their own terms as much as possible.

Peter Hadley, President – Asia Pacific of ADP

Beyond working hours, the role of the office has also been thrown into flux. Around a third (30 per cent) of workers, on average, want a full return to the office, with Gen Z workers much less likely than older workers to want this working arrangement.

Just over a quarter (26 per cent) of Gen Z workers want a complete return to the office, compared to 36 per cent of respondents aged 45-54 and 45 per cent of respondents aged over 55 years.

Employers and workers considering a hybrid working model post-pandemic should not simply assume it will guarantee the ‘best of both worlds.’ However, that is not to say that effective workplace flexibility is out of reach. There are still many questions around the extent to which working from home will remain the norm, for all or part of the week, and what that might mean for productivity, team building, staff development and career progression, as well as office space requirements. For younger workers especially, who will be charting the course of our workforce’s future, there is a need for two-way communication on their unique needs with employers, in order to find the best solution moving forward.

Peter Hadley, President – Asia Pacific of ADP

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