Business Sentiments of Singapore Companies on Economy (FY20Q3)
Business Sentiment | 17 Dec 2020
Business Sentiments of Singapore Companies in FY20 Q3
AN INDSIGHTS RESEARCH REPORT SUMMARY
The Business Sentiments Survey by IndSights Research ascertains how companies in Singapore are adjusting to the current global and domestic economic environment. The survey was conducted in October 2020, with close to 1,000 business leaders from the Wholesale trade, Retail, Food services, ICT (Information & Communications Technology), Environmental services, Logistics and Security industries.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to severe contractions in economies worldwide. However, the business sentiments were less negative compared to previous quarters, with a growing optimism for a better business year ahead. As companies navigate the slow and tenuous path to recovery, reducing staff compensation and re-organising their existing workforce remain main coping mechanisms for Singapore businesses.
Despite the impact on Singapore’s economy, there are signs of recovery which will differ across industries. Our data gathered from different industries shows that while there may be many companies struggling to stay afloat, there are others who are thriving, fuelled by unexpected demand, new business opportunities, and reinvented business models.
OPTIMISM IN THE PERCEPTION OF SINGAPORE’S ECONOMY & INDUSTRIES OUTLOOK
In our survey, we found a growing optimism among companies, with a drop in negative sentiments from FY20 Q2. While 1 in 2 companies rated the economic situation poorly, this is 17% fewer companies than in FY20 Q2. This optimism of Singapore’s economy saw 10% more companies forecasting the future economic situation as ‘better’ compared to FY20 Q2.
Companies also predicted a better economic and industry business situation in the Oct-Dec quarter. Regarding the perception of their industry’s situation and outlook, 2 in 5 companies rated the industry situation poorly, a 11% drop from FY20 Q2. Close to half of the businesses predicted the industry situation to be better in a year’s time. This is a 4% rise from FY20 Q2.
According to the Association of Small & Medium Enterprises of Singapore (ASME), GDP growth is expected to recover to 5.5% for 2021. ASME also made reference to a September 2020 survey of economists and analysts , where estimated that the Singapore economy is most likely to grow by 4.0 to 5.9% next year. The sentiments in Singapore are not very different from the business sentiments of Asian companies, according to a Thomson Reuters/INSEAD survey.
Around 2 in 3 employers neither created nor reduced jobs between July and September, keeping headcounts constant. This trend is expected to continue into October to December. In the same period, 5% more employers planned to create jobs.
In line with keeping their workforce stable, more companies preferred alternatives to layoffs or to wind down the business. 25% of Singapore businesses plan to seek more funding to help them stay afloat. 22% plan to re-organise their current workforce.
BUILDING A SINGAPOREAN CORE
The discussion on the Singaporean core in the workforce has resurfaced in recent months due to heightened job insecurity amidst the economic downturn. To reassure citizens, the Government has pledged to strengthen the Singaporean core. More than half of the respondents cited the challenges of retaining Singaporean staff and jobs not being attractive to Singaporeans.
The challenge of hiring and retaining local talents is echoed in the business conversations IndSights Research had with ICT business leaders. Nonetheless, 2 in 5 companies are considering hiring more Singaporeans to fill new positions to build their local workforce.
In line with the Government’s push to build a strong Singaporean core, some actions that were considered by the ICT companies who participated included hiring more Singaporeans to fill new roles (40%), training more Singaporeans to fill roles currently held by foreigners (24%), and hiring more Singaporeans to fill roles currently held by foreigners (20%).
About the Study
This quarter’s survey collected views from 995 business leaders from various industries consisting of Wholesale trade, Retail, Food services, ICT, Environmental services, Logistics and Security, in October 2020.
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