Spotlight on Singapore – A guide to implementing employee benefits technology18.01.23
Technology and flexibility go hand in hand when it comes to rolling out employee benefits in Asia - and that’s where we stop on our Spotlight journey this time as we explore how to tailor your benefits strategy for Singapore.
With a significant customer presence in Singapore, it’s a location we know well: in terms of the benefits available and the need to provide choice and flexibility to employees using technology.
Benefits are key to attracting and retaining talent in Singapore
Singapore has a particularly competitive talent market – which has become even more mobile following the pandemic, with 64% of employees in Singapore saying they are open to new opportunities, compared to 53% in the UK and 43% in the US (Benefex Great Expectations Research). Therefore it’s an important location to get your benefits strategy on–point with a superior platform user experience to deliver on growing employee expectations.
With these discoveries in mind, let’s take a closer peek at Singapore and the benefits landscape.
Overview of Singapore benefits
There are two key mandatory benefits in Singapore:
1. The Central Provident Fund (commonly known as the CPF in Singapore). The CPF is the cornerstone of the comprehensive social security system that covers retirement and healthcare. This is mandatory, with payments deducted from both employer and employee. There is no flexibility on contribution levels – they are set depending on the employee’s age and salary, and contribution rates can range from 5% to 37% of monthly wages. To supplement this, most companies offer medical insurance and life insurance. However, additional pension or retirement provision is less common.
2. Health Insurance. Although Singapore has a free public healthcare medical system for citizens and permanent residents, medical insurance is a very popular and expected benefit for employees (and is a requirement for Work Permit holders). Usually this is jointly financed by employer and employee. Companies pay for core cover and employees have flexibility to purchase additional upgrades and add dependants including their parents and/or parents-in-law at their own cost. These upgrades include dental, lower deductibles and outpatient care, so there’s a clear need for accurate technology with a seamless user experience to avoid accuracy problems and reduce administration.
Other popular benefits:
Outside the core medical, risk and retirement benefits, some employers offer meal vouchers or travel/commuter allowances to help with day to day living costs, though these are not mandatory.
How to deliver flexibility that meets expectations
Although our survey showed that over half of Singaporean employees (52%) want more choice and flexibility, delivering this can be a challenge as the local benefit offering tends to be limited. This issue becomes even more acute when considering the local competition for talent as well as growing expectations – 79% of employees in Singapore say their expectations of their employer have risen.
To solve this challenge, a technology solution that brings together everything you do for employees in one place is needed. To give employees the flexibility to select the benefits that will work for them, many Benefex clients use spending accounts to, for example, give employees wellbeing allowances or leisure allowances to use on activities of their choice. We looked at these in detail during a previous blog.
In Singapore, these are typically used for employees to spend on things like gym membership, sports equipment and health-related items not covered by their medical insurance plan, e.g. a health screening, Chinese medicine, vision costs and health supplements. In recent times, we have seen this extended to a broader range of leisure activities as part of a wider wellbeing solution.
Where technology allows, you can give employees even greater choice by using a flexible funding approach to benefits. As we explored, Singapore employers typically finance a core level of cover for medial or life insurance – and employees can then choose to increase their cover or add dependents. With flexible funding, you allocate a total benefits allowance that the employee can use to personalise medical cover or purchase additional life insurance. If there are any funds left over once they’ve selected their preferred cover, this goes into a spending account.
You can set parameters around what the employee is able to use the spending account for – for example wellbeing or leisure – and then they can use these funds as they wish (within those categories). Several Benefex customers have taken a flexible funding approach using OneHub, which also enables employees to adjust the level of cover on their core benefits. Flexible funding is a great way to introduce an element of choice to benefits beyond the mandatory provisions and make your benefits provision more attractive to existing and prospective employees.
With a growing need to offer flexibility to employees, Singapore is a great example of what can be achieved where local benefit options and choice are limited. Of course, a smart technology solution is needed to reduce the administration required and provide a seamless experience for employees.
Our research highlighted that Singapore employees value choice, flexibility and a superb user experience highly. 90% of Singapore employees said they would like one place for all benefits, content and resources from their employer – a figure that was higher than in any other country, yet 54% said the technology they use at work lags behind the technology they use at home. Therefore there’s a golden opportunity for global reward and benefits leaders to enhance the employee experience in Singapore.
If you would like to know more about delivering flexible benefits in Singapore and see how OneHub can help you deliver on employee expectations, just get in touch!