Employee Engagement

What Employee Benefits SG Workers Really Want

Katie Ash

Dec 21, 2020

Outside of role-fit and job satisfaction, job seekers are searching for much more than a base salary.

Benefits have become important considerations for employees when assessing an employment package. As companies increasingly look for new ways to attract the best talent to remain competitive, providing comprehensive employee benefits may be just the ticket.


We recently surveyed Singapore workers to learn what employee benefits they were currently receiving from their companies, which they most valued, and what benefits they wanted most. Download a copy of the report for all of the insights. Of employee benefits wanted by workers, there is an even split between wellness, lifestyle and financial benefits.



Here are the top 5 most wanted benefits of Singapore employees.


5. Better Medical Insurance


Some workers are not covered by any medical insurance, and others would like coverage extended to include outpatient and dental cover. Employers are not required under Singapore law to provide medical coverage, but are responsible for covering medical costs if accidents/injuries occur at work, or for the cost of seeing a medical practitioner if it results in a medical certificate being given. Many employers choose to provide more than this basic coverage however, and include cover for dental, vision, medicine, specialist, as well as TCM.

Health insurance is an expensive benefit to provide, especially for SMEs. Speaking to an insurance consultant can help you to uncover ways to improve your coverage, through add ons or tiers which may not increase premiums by much, but would certainly make your employees feel a lot more valued. Another option would be to consider the addition of a flexi-cash system, where the company can set a monetary value that employees can choose to use for any time of additional coverage they wish. This would give the added benefit of keeping all employees happy as they may have different desires for what additional cover they’re after.

4. Flexible Hours/WFH


63% of Singapore companies now offer their employees flexible working hours and/or the ability to work from home.


This year has seen a growing acceptance and appreciation for the benefits of remote and flexible work arrangements. Many companies have embraced digitalisation at accelerated speeds, and with technologies now available to keep teams connected wherever they are, remote work has been embraced by both employers and employees. The increased productivity seen by businesses has paved the way for these arrangements to stay long-term.

However, some workers have not yet had the allowance of working from home, outside of mandatory lock-downs. This became the fourth most requested benefit of Singapore employees in our recent survey. If jobs can be done online and do not require a fixed location for security/practical reasons, companies should consider offering employees a flexible approach to their schedules.


Offering flexible hours is probably the single biggest opportunity when it comes to offering perks that actually make a difference to employees. It also comes at little to no cost to the company, even potentially saving cost without the need for large office spaces etc. Flexibility leads to a greater quality of life. Employees don’t feel like they need to sacrifice their career in order to focus on their family or hobbies and vice versa. As a benefit, flexibility provides the best long-term value to employees. According to Vantage Circle, 45% of employees would prefer flexible scheduling over pay.


3. AWS (13th Month Bonus)


Annual wage supplement (AWS) bonus equivalent to at least 1 month’s salary, commonly known as 13th month payment, has become a common practice in Singapore. Our recent survey showed that 30.2% of companies are offering AWS to employees. The Manpower Research and Statistics Department of the Ministry of Manpower puts this number at more than 50%.


The AWS is not compulsory and details of the annual bonus policy will normally be specified in the employment contract. AWS is separate from any annual variable bonus or performance bonus which depend on the company's financial position and individual employee performance. This bonus payment is not required by law, but is a great incentive to improve productivity and performance, and can boost employee morale.

There are limits on AWS however. Employers cannot pay AWS of more than 1 month’s salary if they did not pay any AWS before 26 August 1988.



2. Gym Memberships


Interestingly, while gym memberships were ranked the second most wanted employee benefit, it also showed up on the list of under-utilised benefits. Sedentary work environments often result in increased healthcare costs, low morale, and a less-productive workforce, so getting employees moving can be beneficial to both workers and the employers.


While providing individual memberships may not be cost effective, companies could consider subsidising or reimbursing part of existing memberships, or implementing a flexi-benefit to cap costs. Many gyms and fitness centers are also open to companies purchasing ‘single-visit’ passes in bulk. These can then be shared amongst employees who want to use them.

1. Dental Cover


The most wanted employee benefit of Singapore workers is dental cover.

Many dental plans are available as add-ons to group health insurance plans. If you choose to include dental insurance, you can design an attractive benefits package that offers more coverage for you and your employees. Make sure that your employees will use the coverage if you do take it up though. If it is under-utilised, it may be more economical to pay for dental bills on a reimbursement scheme. Talk to your insurance provider to find out what makes the most sense for your business.


Other benefits that made it into the top 10 included company paid health screening, a flexible cash benefit, paid maternity insurance, company shares, and the ability to buy or sell annual leave.



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Looking for more insights into Singapore employee benefits? Download the 34 page ebook, The State of Employee Benefits Singapore.



We share insights into:


  • The current state of employee benefits in Singapore according to company size.
  • The most valued benefits, and how these differ by age and residential status.
  • How employee benefits can affect recruitment and employee retention.
  • Which employee benefits are the most wanted, and which are under-utilised.

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