This post will provide you with a simple way, backed up by governmental statistics, to see if a medium-sized Singaporean company is doing well, or not.
This post has been written based on exchanges and research with some of my ex-colleagues from the Manpower Research & Statistics Department, Ministry of Manpower and the Cross-disciplinary data-intensive Analytics group (CDA Group) of the Institute for High-Performance Computing (IHPC), part of the Agency for Science Technology And Research (A*STAR).
Singapore is a great nation, that has been fighting corruption from its conception, and has pushed transparency through it’s entire government. The Ministry of Manpower (hereafter MOM) collects and publishes Statistics about the job market as a whole, and by verticals. They publish every quarter the Labour Market Survey, part of their labor market statistical information.
One can check that the labor conditions in Singapore are great, with almost no employment. The unemployment rate is at 1.9%, already getting an envious glare from most european countries, but there are also more vacancies than unemployed individuals.
It correlates nicely with the information we pointed at in the previous post about Singapore lacking enough job in IT (15,000 unfilled vacancies in 2014)
Lingo: the average monthly resignation rate captures voluntary employee departure, while redundancy captures involuntary employee departure. You would need to add that “labor re-entry” rates to compute the turn-over rate.
Given the growth of employment in general (visible on the main page of MOM statistics), and the lack of talent in IT specifically (illustrated in previous section), it is not surprising to see that the monthly redundancy rate (0.7%) is but a fraction of the monthly resignation rate (2.0%).
It makes a lot of sense, it is so hard to find talent, and you need to fight so hard to keep them, that you would only let them go if you can’t pay them. The total size of the workforce is thus a great proxy for growth in Singapore.
Actually, if you remove the very isolated cases where the employee was fired for breach of contract, the vast majority of the redundancy cases in Singapore belong to companies that are downsizing. It is thus also important to look at the growth of the company in term of workforce size. This is something that is not captured by the turn over rates.
In the rest of this post, we will focus on resignation and redundancy as means to evaluate the health of a medium size start up in Singapore.
Analysis – basis for comparison
The statistics are only valid for companies of at least 25 employees.
Note that resignations and redundancy events happen in parallel, and are isolated from each other, so the rates are additive.
We’re going to use LinkedIn as a data source. From linkedin, we can only compute the number (and not the rate) of events, so we will eventually compute the rate based on a supposedly constant total workforce.
While all cases are verifiable (no false positive), it is likely that some ex-employee do not update their profile (false negative). The real count should thus be higher and worse.
Over a year, in a Singaporean company of 25, you should have 6 voluntary departures, and 2 involuntary ones.
Since there is almost no way to differentiate from Linkedin profiles wether a change of job was voluntary or not, one should compare linkedin statistics against the cumulated maximum of 8 departures.
If you happen to know that a company has very low voluntary departure rate, then you should expect much less departures. It’s thus always better for a company NOT to provide the ratio of voluntary vs involuntary departures. With 6 involuntary departures, you’re 3 times worse than the national average, with 6 undifferentiated departures, you’re better than the national average …. lies, damned lies and statistics.
Unfortunately, the MOM does not provide publicly the distribution so we cannot compute the standard deviation nor the percentile and qualify how bad a given situation is, we can only state wether it’s better or worse than most of the Singaporean companies.
MOM is trying to find a way to publish the distribution, so we can make a full analysis and publish the results in a peer-review international journal or conference, with chosen examples among Singapore companies.
We have found a simple way to check how a medium size (~25) start up company in Singapore is doing. If 8 individuals or more are listed as ex-employee in LinkedIn for a period of a year, you’re doing worse than most of the other companies.
In any case, if the size of your workforce shrank in such highly competitive environment, it is very unlikely that you’re not having a growth problem.
This work by Dr. Alexandre Gouaillard is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
This blog is not about any commercial product or company, even if some might be mentioned or be the object of a post in the context of their usage of the technology. Most of the opinions expressed here are those of the author, and not of any corporate or organizational affiliation.