Attracting and Retaining the Best Talent in Singapore

Joe Goddard

Joe Goddard

Senior Consultant

As the dust settles and hybrid work-life is acceptable, flexibility acts as the cornerstone of any working culture. Coming into the office for 2 or 3 days per week is commonplace; it finally feels like this could be ‘the new norm’ for many years to come. 

However, at Arcadia, we like to dig deeper — not to just assume but question the change in behaviour and understand what’s making the workplace tick. And crucially what aspects of work-life require in-person engagements for everyone to get the biggest benefit.

A great place to start is to understand where leaders and individual contributors are spending their time and effort training and learning new skills.  There has been a seismic shift in how people participate in training programmes, with offerings that include a range of formats: face-to-face, e-learning, gamification, podcasts, and research papers, but which one of these has the greatest impact on building culture?

Survey Findings

We asked some of our senior leaders across 65 organisations1 in Singapore what their thoughts on the subject were.

Here's What We Found

In-person training still forms a key part of the broader training roadmap, as these activities do more than just teach new skills.

Although most organisations now have the capability for digital training, with obvious benefits associated with this method (e.g., accessibility to more people across multiple locations), it appears that the outlook for planned training across the remainder of 2022 is a mixed bag. 90% of organisations are implementing hybrid training (combination of in-person and digital) as opposed to all digital or all in-person.

  • The data suggest that there is a recognition that although in-person training could come with extra effort and cost, it still forms a key part of the broader training roadmap, especially as some skills are more impactful to learn in person.
  • In-person training forms a key part of building and maintaining closer bonds between teams, which is essential to drive purpose and culture. This is due to the nature of activities in workshops being more engaging and rewarding for attendees.
  • Training providers are now in a sweet spot, where different delivery methods are understood and accepted. The corporate world is now primed for innovation to maximise learning further. New ideas such as peer-to-peer (e.g., juniors coaching leaders) or digital innovations, like gamification, could feature heavily in future roadmaps.

Business-critical subjects are worth the extra spend and effort.

After 2 years of COVID, nothing beats face to face! We need to take as much opportunity we possibly can to meet, train, and bond face to face and not only make virtual the default.

We found that there is a clear trend towards certain subjects preferred for in-person training vs. virtual. These subjects are considered business-critical, not only for decision making but also for building culture, and therefore justify the extra spending and effort, often delivered with smaller group sizes.

With an emphasis on overall employee wellbeing, it’s essential that employers offer their teams an opportunity to properly engage in activities to help them to continue learning new ideas, beyond the traditional subjects of workplace training, into meatier subjects such as Resilience and Growth Mindset. If this need isn’t met, then it will be no surprise to see employees seeking an organisation elsewhere that satisfies this.

The key areas that these critical topics fall into are ones: 

  • With an aim to elevate the performance to exceptional (High performing teams, Executive Presence).
  • That are debate- and discussion-critical (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion), which gives all individuals an opportunity to shape company culture and process, e.g., steady performers as well as high performers.
  • That have direct implications on the direction of the business and develop strong leaders, essential for future growth (Strategic Thinking, Presentation Skills).

Virtual training brings great benefits such as bite sized learning, the ability to follow up with application and coaching labs, having the team together across multiple locations, inclusivity, and equity of learning opportunities. There is something unique and special, however, that supersedes this in a face-to-face environment. People are more present, less distracted, more human. It’s more organic. Participants can apply things in the moment, ask a question, interrupt, chime-in real-time. There is a certain energy in the group that allows for more.

Digital learning could have a negative impact on mindset, attitudes and culture, if not tailored to suit the audience

In addition to leaders’ desire to ensure that core topics are ringfenced for in-person engagement, there is also evidence to suggest appreciation that it gives to the overall workplace, where softer measures are essential, e.g., company values and purpose, team building, and engaging all individuals into shaping process. Too much digital learning that has not been tailored specifically for the audience could have a negative impact on mindset and attitudes.

To Summarise:

  • Organisations and leaders must work a lot harder to attract and retain talent, with employees wanting a greater emphasis on well-being and purpose. Individual contributors have reframed their attitudes to how they want to spend their working hours. It is therefore critical for leaders and trainers to observe the broader benefits of building company culture and the long-term payback of embedding purpose and inclusivity, often initiated whilst engaging in company activities such as in-person training.
  • Digital learning is still essential as the backbone of quickly upskilling employees, providing delivery is adapted to the digital environment, i.e., presenter-led programmes are still effective, but could also be complemented with other means where necessary, such as a combination of e-learning (self-paced, podcasts, videos, or gamification). Check out The Mindset Advantage podcast here. There is an interesting space to watch out for in the future here. The entire education sector has been waiting for a shakeup for decades, like how technology has shaped so many other industries.
  • For training, in-person will always be the most beneficial, impactful, and worth the extra effort for important topics, such as developing peak performers, diversity, equity and inclusion, and leadership. Not only are skillsets enhanced but the character is built, and closer, long-term relationships are formed.

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