News and views from an unique perspective

Time for Generation Y to shape up or be prepared for a life of mediocrity

Posted by temasektimes on June 24, 2012

There was a recent debate online on young Singaporeans becoming increasingly ‘soft’ like ‘strawberries’ who are unable to withstand the harsh realities of life.

As a Singaporean employer manager a SME of over 200 staff, I can attest to the fact that young Singaporeans nowadays are plagued with all kinds of attitude problems and have taken for granted the good life that their parents have bestowed on them by virtue of their hard work.

Just to give a few examples:

1. My company put up a job ad recently hiring full-time administrative staff at $1,800 monthly (office hours, five day work week, no shift work) looking specifically for Singaporeans. We received a number of inquiries over the phone, but most just want to bargain for higher pay first without making the effort to make a trip down for the interview to discuss the details. We eventually hired two fresh polytechnic graduates. One did not turn up for the on-the-job training without giving a valid reason and another left after two weeks citing a better offer elsewhere.

2. One staff who has been working for over a year tried to hold me to ransom for a higher salary via SMS in spite just being given a pay rise of $200 three months earlier. She rejected my offer to negotiate in person and ‘MIA’ the next day without giving a month’s notice.

3. Spending time on Facebook, surfing the internet, using the company’s PCs to watch Korean dramas during working hours are commonly observed among some Singaporean workers. Sometimes, they even act blur when I walked into the office as if nothing has happened. Despite repeated warnings by the HR, they persist in their ‘activities’. When one was threatened with the sack, she simply threw all her work aside and walked off without saying the word, disrupting the company’s operations and causing it to make a loss.

4. Taking MCs and leaves in the last minute without passing their work and responsibilities to fellow colleagues. There were times when they left office early to ‘see’ a doctor only to come back hours later without a valid MC.

5. Job-hopping: reading the classified ads during working hours, using the company’s phones to call for prospective employers and arranging interviews and giving short notices when leaving the company.

I could go on and go and I am not stereotyping young Singaporean workers. While there are some good, motivated and responsible ones around, such workers are the exception rather than the norm.

We are a home-grown company which employs more than 90 percent Singaporeans. As far as possible, we will try to employ Singaporeans first before foreigners, but with so many difficulties faced in hiring Singaporeans and retaining them for a number of years, we may have no choice to turn to foreigners.

For those of you in the SME sector, you will know the many constraints we face – many of us struggling to keep afloat in the face of intense competition from the giant GLCs for the same pool of clients in the small Singapore market. We would love to offer higher pay for Singaporeans provided they are able to contribute to the company, but if they come with the mindset of just earning quick and easy cash, why should we invest in them?

Young Singaporeans seriously need to wake up their bloody idea that they are guaranteed an iron rice-bowl upon stepping into the workforce. When I graduated twenty years ago, I worked seven days a week, 12 – 18 hours each day for five years to earn enough to start my own company. My wife and I saved every single cent we have for our family. We had no car, no paid holidays and no luxurious pursuits or products. Just plain, honest and solid hard work to get to where we are today.

If you refuse to plant your feet solidly on the ground and work your socks off, then don’t expect money to drop from the sky. If you do not have the earning capability, then spend less and don’t splurge on expensive holidays and branded stuff to show off in front of your girlfriends and relatives. And if you do not have the will, hunger and desire to succeed in life, then be prepared to live in mediocrity for the rest of your life.

I know I will get flamed for this article, but this is the HARD TRUTH for young Singaporeans – your diploma or degree is only a stepping stone in life, not a fast-track ticket to success. Nobody is going to give you a car, a career and a flat for free. You have to fight hard for them yourselves and you have nobody to blame but yourselves if you fail to make the mark. I am sorry, this is how the real world works outside and you folks seriously need to shape up or get ship out! Lastly, but not the least, please get out of your mama’s shadow, stop whining and start behaving like adults!



69 Responses to “Time for Generation Y to shape up or be prepared for a life of mediocrity”

  1. George said

    Everything you wrote is very true.

    • Compatriot said

      He ought to hire the able fit elderly,least he forgets about them and to loose he golden goose

      • Sashaqueenie said

        Some elderly can also be very hard to work with. They think they know everything and very set in their ways. Unwilling to learn things, professing that this isn’t the way they do things back in their old days or just plan lazy. We all need to buck up!

      • Bai Hu said

        Yes, i agree with u. I can attest to what this article is trying to tell us. My hubby owns a construction company & i can tell u, those Singaporeans graduate engineers have bad attitude, indeed very very bad. He had given special privileges to Singaporean engineers by giving them a car each whereas those foreigner engineers have to take MRT to work, but still it did not turn out well. They use the car to go shopping, ferry girlfriends, & do all sorts of personal stuffs. Ask them to do OT & weekends duties, they complained weekend burnt, etc. Whereas the foreign engineers are willing to take over the duties readily without complaint with some OT pay of course. During office hours, did not go to site to check, always in office surf net, play computer games, When i entered into the office, i can see them smiling away at the screen. I quickly went over & take a quick look one day & scolded the whole lot of them for nearly half an hour.
        But of course, not all Singaporeans are bad & this also applies to all foreigners too. But i must say that this trend that is seen in young Singaporeans is getting more common. When i first graduated from NUS, i worked my lungs out as a site engineer to get to what i am today. If i ever adopted the bad attitude that younger Singaporeans are having today, i would still be a site engineer today. Instead of complaining that foreigners are taking away our rice bowl (which is true from the PAP pro-foreigner policies) why not work smart & efficiently to prove to your bosses that u are a worthy employee?

  2. a.mark said

    Basic economic principle: people respond to incentives. If the incentive of ‘laziness’, ‘mc’, and ‘slacking at work’ outweighs the disincentives of potential loss of job and loss in pay, people will resort to undesirable measures. Perhaps it’s time for Lam CK to re-look into his office culture and HR policies.
    People are the same everywhere, how does large MNCs keep their workers productive and motivated? As an “employer manager of over 200 staff” as he claimed, perhaps he wasn’t doing his job properly.

    *note: I am not even Gen Y.

    • james said

      you must be one of those employees that the author talked about

    • Leong Singapore said

      If workers are looking for incentives BEFORE producing results, then there is really something wrong here. The ethical standards of these employees slacking and spending unproductive hours on the net is totally unacceptable for whatever reasons or excuses. It is common practice by Singapore workers these days. These people will deserve their mediocre wealth by their own making. So don’t complain about the government or the Foriegn Workers taking their jobs(that they are not committed to do). I don’t sympathize with these lazy bums at all.

      • a.mark said

        I am not judging whether it is right or wrong. In fact, I stated that their behaviour is undesirable. However, from an objective economist’s point of view, that is inevitable. If you are the employer, and you see one lazy employee, you sack him/her. If every employee you see is lazy, as the author implied, then I believe something is fundamentally wrong with his company’s working culture and remuneration system.
        I am a senior manager from an international bank and my observations are a stark contrast from the author’s. My conclusion is that either I am looking at a different employee pool (top graduates in my case), or the author’s company simply adopts an inefficient operation model that makes the employees deem it unnecessary to raise their productivity.
        Either way, I do not condone laziness, but I believe employers need to adapt our policies to the social shifts, or risk redundancy.

    • a.mark said

      A quick employer 101 from someone working at an international firm.
      Employee with high productivity requires motivation and incentives
      To achieve motivation -> inculcate a positive working culture
      Incentives -> Relatively good benefits (at least comparable to firms from same sector)

      That’s the basic. Different employee groups have different understanding of motivation and incentives, and it is the HR’s job to find the best available recruits that can fit into your firm’s predetermined notion of motivation and incentives.

      If you can find satisfactory candidate -> job done, productivity raised
      If you can’t (as the author did) -> re-look into your company’s policy. Companies adapt to the society, not the other way round. No point complaining about the present social shift because there’s nothing you can do about it.

      Note that I do not claim whether the “Gen Y” attitude is right or wrong. From a business’ perspectives, it is irrelevant. No offence to SME bosses around here, but apparently some local SMEs cannot understand basic economic principles.

      • New Guard said

        Respect. Lots of truth going on here. I can imagine that you are doing very well in your dept.

        Majority of managers/bosses/companies still has the old-traditional business model in handling staffs and managing situations.

        Imagine a company which rather spend half-day playing the blame game to find out who is the culprit of a mistake, when it can be solved in 5mins. Make it a case study and move on, but no, you need to dig and dig to find who to blame.

        Imagine a boss who says the main gate is always open, there is a long queue of potential who wants to join this company. What sort of image are you trying to portray? Non-existence welfare? you are a famous company?

        Most companies are just looking for “Yes-Man” and “obedient pet”. Which in this case, the more educated the person, the more he/she will ask the question why not this? why not that? Most old school managers cannot accept.

        It is actually a sad thing. Most basic management knowledge can be read up in books. But most managers rather use experience to solve issues rather then explore ways of solving issues.

        I totally agree on if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

  3. VH2006 said

    Not so sure about the other points, but for MC, it has to be last minute. Something is seriously wrong if you can get MC in advance.

    Anyway, I would like to share some experiences I had with some young Singaporean business people. They did not deliver on their promises, for eg. emailing me the info by tonight, in a short while. When reminded, they only replied that they would send and nothing is heard from them.

    Another actually gave excuses then tried to manage my expectation. When that didn’t work, pushed all the blame onto me.

    Nevertheless, I had a pleasant working relationship with one Singaporean lady, who delivered her work on time. She promised what she could deliver.

    A word of advice to all business people (no matter local or foreigner), deliver what you promised. Ask yourself, can excuses pay your bills? Once clients get frustrated, they leave.

  4. peanuts said

    pay peanuts then what you expect



      stupid cheapskate employer

    • Julie Ong said

      Peanuts , your answer I guess would probably be monkeys.

      Problem is if you give big, nice bananas to the other monkeys (the greedy politicians) you’ll get gorillas! And as you know gorillas eat a whole lot more
      and we’ll continue to feed them as long as they are in the zoo (parliament).

      I was an executive and my unwavering belief is that you reward people handsomely when they put in excellent/outstanding performance. Besides that I also allow a great deal of autonomy to my assistants (not subordinates, I don’t like that word) because that is the way for them to learn and grow. If you are a boss who is hard, fast and stingy you’ll probably find employees leaving you. On the other hand if you foster good
      working relations and have rapport with your workers I’m confident that they in turn would give of their best. I speak from experience. Never heard of anybody wanting to leave under my charge.

      So there you have it. Respect, Genorosity and Willingness to Communicate – these are invaluable values /traits. Both in business and even in politics.

      Learn from the multi-national companies. You will notice that people prefer to work for them. Why? As I’ve said learn. Find out.

      Anyway I firmly believe that any working Singaporean must not be a struggling poor but rather in the least earn a decent living wage.

      It’s crazy. We’re proudly first world, but a significant minority has to cop it rough and tough. No good like this. Must change.

      Boss/Worker Relationship : I believe your fortune are tied together. Tough it out when things are difficult, but don’t ever forget to share the benefits when profits are good.

  5. Webbie said

    Are these undesirable traits unique to Singaporean workers only? I work in an office with 90% foreigners and these are what I observe of my foreign colleagues:

    – Malaysian. Morning chit chat among Malaysians. Afternoons on facebook or playing games. Money minded, will screw the company when have the chance.
    – Indian. Probably work 1 hour a day only. Abysmal quality of work.
    – Filipino. Surf internet, watch movies when have the chance. No self initiative, always waiting for instructions before they will work. Poor quality work.
    – Myanmar. Hardworking but very very poor English and skills thus produce very low quality work.

    • choochootrain said

      Hi Webie, we are not concern about other nationality’s behaviour, let’s not digress. Mr Lam CK is very concern of our own ppl, the younger Singaporean.

      Sure, there will be alot of these ppl around regardless of race or nationality, they can leave anytime, but not for our own ppl.

      • Webbie said

        Concerned about our own people?… haha, you must be extremely naive. SME bosses like Lam are trying to justify not hiring Singaporeans by bringing out tons of reasons why they are bad. Actual reason is because Singaporeans refuse to accept SME’s pathetic wages and poor management skills. Only foreigners will endure their nonsense for a couple of years before jumping ship to MNCs.

      • Sashaqueenie said

        But wait a minute, choochootrain! Why should we hold Singaporeans to a higher standard when even other foreigners are unable to work well after paying so much money to agents to come here? Is the expectations unrealistic? Is the pay too little? Perhaps the problem does not lie just with Singaporeans. Our Leaders are unable to garner support and rally all Singaporeans to come together and work hard for our future. Shouldn’t we look deeper at the work ethics of all workers in Singapore?

      • Haha said

        @Sashaqueenie You just shot yourself in the foot. “Why should we hold Singaporeans to a higher standard?” After which you said “Shouldn’t we look deeper at the work ethics of all workers in Singapore?” The very rationale behind looking into the work ethics of Singaporean workers would be to allow Singaporeans to practice higher standards in the workplace.

        Anyhow, I feel that Webbie has the entitlement mentality typical of that found in a Gen Y individual. Words like pathetic wages, nonsense and poor management skills signifies too much emotions vested in the comment. Either this guy/girl has something against SMEs, is working for a SME that is ill-treating him/her, or had worked before in one that has ill-treated him/her.

        Obviously, this person’s very interesting observations regarding people of other nationalities seem to be very biased. You are only interested in propagating all their undesirable traits or working behavior. FYI, no matter how much you point fingers at others, it still does not justify some Singaporean’s (not all, obviously) lacklustre performance in the workplace.

        We should stop picking on what others are doing wrong and justify our own performance with that knowledge. Why not compare yourself with better workers? That will allow you to improve yourself instead of being stuck in a perennial rut like some other unfortunate and inept workers are in.

        Perhaps instead of getting defensive, we should try and see what this author is trying to bring across. Granted, he may have done so in a crude manner, but some lessons of value can be found if we look deeper. Instead of blaming employers, we can start with ourselves. After all, Gen Y workers are going to be in the position of authority soon and if we can understand what problems we are creating for Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers, it would prove as an invaluable addition to our management skills.

        P.S. I am a Gen Y individual.

  6. alex tan said

    You pay below market rate and expect to compete for local talents? You should start looking at the HR practices of MNCs here who wouldnt whine like a baby when their staffs used working hours to settle personal matters. Your inability to inspire opportunity of growth in your workers is the reason why they keep screwing you up. How many times is your own salary over your lowest paid employee? A CEO must not earn more than 10 times of that or your business is doomed to fail

    • james said

      $1800 (+ $200 payrise after 3 months) is below market rate for a basic admin position??

      my friend, you drive your daddy’s BMW to work everyday?

      looking at HR practices of MNCs??

      how ignorant of the plights faced by SMEs.

    • KP said

      “Your inability to inspire opportunity of growth in your workers is the reason why they keep screwing you up.”

      It’s true. I have once brought my dog to obedience training… The trainer said : “it’s not the dog, it’s the owner.”

      It is somewhat true. Just my opinion. You may think otherwise.

    • Wtf said

      Alex tan seems to know a whole lot of hr best practices and running a country. He can even advice how much a ceo should earn. Perhaps alex would like to share his impressive cv for all to see and be inspired. Have you graduated yet alex?

  7. SteveT said

    Two thumbs up to Mr/Ms Lam for this posting. This is the absolute truth, and as a fellow SME business owner, I agree wholeheartedly with all the comments.

  8. Alan Lim said

    I totally agreed with you.what you said is the truth.

  9. IronMan said

    Have u tried to hire SG in their 30s or 40s for ur company? Don’t be too quick to resort to FTs. When I was young, I too am like them. After 2 or 3 years in employment, I began to change for the better, even though my starting basic salary is $1090 in 2000, i was 24 then. With the advise of my senior colleagues, I really improve. Now I am earning more than twice the amount.

    Have a mixture of matured employees to guide and motivate the young ones. It is our duty to educate our young fellow SG, and not to comdemn them. The young ones failed, it is partly our failure too.

    All the best for u, ur family & ur company. Do not give up….please.

    • Law said

      Totally Agreed.
      It is always these “Types” of employer wants everything at the best condition, but pay peanuts.
      It takes times for people to change sometimes. Part of responsibility of employer to Groom them.

      I was once a Badass, after a year of being badass, my employer dun give me up as he can see what i can give.
      i am still being grateful to him to make me what i am now.

      i have advance to a level where i am earning a lot really, and i will progress further.

      so dun just judge them that fast, u got to think in every corner whether u have make the effort enough to every individual or allocated your subodinates to groom how u wanted.

  10. True and not just for Singapore. As a teacher and mother dealing with teenagers, you have hit the nail on the head. It is a spoilt and pampered generation. We adults share the blame for their attitude.

  11. xel said

    Globalisation? I have worked with people from at least 30 countries, allow me to comment.
    Go and look into your HR policies, I work with a bunch of young Singaporeans in a global MNC. I haven’t seen any attitude displayed by young Singaporeans you described (Infact I see those more frequently in senior people, be it Singaporean or FT). Perhaps the type of co. you built attracted the type of people. I would never work in an environment you described anyway, it eptiomizes weak people management (you allowed people to walk off in the mid of employment?). Indian IT professionals in Banglare are so competitive they are pretty well known of flying you a A380 where ever higher incentives call. How wide is the world are you looking at and comparing with?

  12. Singaporean said

    most sme owners sooner or later all shut down business only. I think lam u high chance to be one of them.

  13. True breed Singaporean said

    I totally agreed!!!!! Finally someone speaks out!! Singaporean it is time to wake up and work hard!! Yes I agreed that incentives are the most important thing to motivate staff, however it comes back down on the staff itself. I managed over 15 employees, and I always fight for incentive from the management for them. Some of them when given to them they are not working hard too, it comes down to attitude of each single employees.

  14. PleaseBeRational said

    This is good. Responsible workers like me get better raise cos coy wants to keep us..

  15. LOLATYOU said

    Sounds like you are a cunt of an employer

  16. Mich said

    I love this Article! Well said ! I second that!
    This article is written with care & concern for the generation. Accept the truth & the truth will set u free!

  17. Mich said

    Eat the salt n taste the tastiness. This article is a wake up call for those who eat e salt to do some soul searching.
    For flamers, good luck to you guys because living in denial or finding excuses means getting stuck in a whirlpool of soft mud.
    Have a splendid day everyone !

  18. NSW said

    I fully agree with the Mr Lam, but get ready to be flame. The new generation never go thru hard life and I say we need PAP to lose power and get it hard for once for them to realize how fortunate they are when its too late

    • Simon said

      I am a Malaysian, and I hope PAP gets voted out in the next election. I predict Spore will go down the drain. At least both our populations would be on level playing field. Now you Sporeans have advantage of a good govt.! Not fair !

      • New Guard said

        I believe that there are alot of Singaporeans who are infact on the same frequency in voting out the current gov, but at the same time, I strongly disagree that it will be a downfall of Singapore. There is always 2 sides in a crisis. No one can predict the out come but one thing is for sure. Change! A change has happen and it is what we want.

        I disagree on the difference in level playing field between us. You can stay in a 2 story bungalow while we on the other hand in a 4-room flat. CPF & EPF is a totally different scheme where one locks $$ for the gov where the other provides for the people. There are Pros/Cons between our countries and should not be compared.

  19. No shit Sherlock said

    You pay $1.8k per month and expect top quality employees?

    • Sashaqueenie said

      Is 1.8 K for an admin staff low? 5 days work week, I think it’s pretty damn good for an entry level worker. Now let me ask you, how much would YOU pay someone in this position?
      Think carefully.

  20. Fu_pap said

    I am not Gen Y. And I think the article is written unfairly. I had a bad experience working for a SIngaporean boss in a MNC who would deduct my pay for public holidays because I was a contract staff. I did not do anything outside work like facebooking or net surfing during office hours and sometimes even stay overtime to complete my tasks. Please treat your workers fairly before putting up such articles. As the Chinese saying goes, 无风不起浪 (there is no tide without the wind). Reflect on your own actions as a employer before writing such articles.

  21. Gan_Do said

    Dear Mr Lam CK,

    While the above may have been true and in agreement by others, there are also opposites that are just as equally true. The main question that may be worth asking is, for all those written above that had occured, is it solely the fault of those individuals? If this had occurred too repeatedly, is it an indication that there is an opportunity that your company can explore to improve and lessen such encounters while hiring more effective Singaporeans?

    Given the government calls for flexibility agreed by many business bodies in Singapore, may be labelling a whole generation as “strawberry” generation may not be very helpful to your current plight. People change with each generation and as such, businesses also change with time. Similarly, the company culture and HR policies also have to change to increase their effectiveness.

    Quite often we have seen companies disappear just simply because they cannot adapt and change. People leaving for greener pastures are only a natural process if they see nothing to gain in staying on in a sinking ship. Perhaps you might want to look at things from another angle to find out any other opportunities of change for your company? Change is getting faster and more frequent now. What may seem as making things successful 5 years ago may no longer be what it is now.

    I personally having graduated very well as a local graduate and trained overseas in an MNC, have been very happy working for an SME now. That’s because I see areas and opportunities to grow and develop my skills and the management is very open in that area. Salaries are also adjustable rather than fixed every 6 monthly to account for the raise in quality and and experience learnt. Mistakes made were viewed not as blame-and-shame but rather to be shared as learning lessons.

    Hence, are you already working towards the above mentioned areas in order to take your company to greater heights? Hope you are as it will definitely bring quality people to your organization. And by then you may start seeing things in a different light.


  22. Jenny said

    Lol, those traits is wat i saw on FTs. Please don’t lie, there is not company tat have 90% singaporeans nowadays. The whole article is bullshit. Want to hired FTs just hired, don’t give excuses. Most graduates can’t even find jobs and u said they are picky and lazy. Wat a joke.

  23. Dennis said

    What nonsense are you talking about Alex Tan?

    “How many times is your own salary over your lowest paid employee? A CEO must not earn more than 10 times of that or your business is doomed to fail”

    Bill Gates earns billions per year. Does he pay his lowest paid employee hundreds of millions every year? Looks like you are just talking out of your ass! Looks like you are just as hopeless in work matters as you are in runningf for election and talking about policies!

  24. June said

    $1800 for a 5 day week admin job is very reasonable.

  25. Gen Y said

    Not all Gen Y’s are like this, and this is not the norm but rather the exception. I for one am a Gen Y and my office does have quite a number of Gen Y’s too.

    You said it yourself, the one who left after 2 weeks left for a better offer. If you have children would you tell them to stick with the first job even though it offers less simply cos they signed an offer. Don’t tell me about loyalty to companies. Companies have one principle, no one is irreplaceable. Therefore don’t expect employee loyalty cos no company is irreplaceable too! You wanna attract local talents, then learn to pay more! To get an S-pass you need to pay a minimum salary of $2000, plus levy of anything between $200-$400. If you can take out the same to pay a local, I’m sure you can retain them better. So stop complaining when you think peanuts can attract anything more than a monkey.

    Spending time on FB is a common thing, Korean dramas are a little too much but do they make up a majority of your Gen Y employees? Maybe cos you are only an SME, but I know of MNC’s that actually encourage the use of FB, some even recognize that in this day and age, social media is the way forward and setup teams to man their social media tools. Maybe you are the one who needs to change your midset, we live in the age of technology now, where the internet opens up the world to us. We are no longer in your age of using paper and pen to send snail mail or reading an encyclopedia to find info. And threatening someone with the sack? This has to be the most immature thing a company and a man of your position can do. You wanna sack her, just do it. Don’t make empty threats cos everyone around can hear it and they will know it’s nothing but words. I’m sure you have a brain, think of how it looks on you instead of how it looks on the employee. Stop expecting Gen Y to behave like adults when you are not setting a good example!

    I don’t take MCs unless the doctor tells me it is absolutely needed. Ask yourself this, why in the world would someone take an MC if all the work for that day is just gonna pile up causing him/her OT for the next 3 days!? And obvious point, MC can’t be obtained in advance. You fall sick can predict one week in advance I seriously think you should just spend your prediction efforts on gambling. Then no need to deal with these “strawberries” as you Gen X like to call us. If an employee goes to the doctor and returns to work why do you blame them for not having a valid MC? It just reflects that your company doesn’t have good policies in place, if you don’t allow them to leave work then tell them you don’t allow. Why allow them to see the doctor only to complain they don’t have an MC? If they have an MC they won’t head back to the office right? Then you start blaming them for taking MC. If an employee is really sick, would you prefer them to be in the office and spread the virus around causing more people to be sick and lower productivity? So you tell me, take MC also wrong, don’t take MC also wrong, what do you want from us!?

    Job hopping? As mentioned earlier, don’t expect loyalty from employees when companies believe that no one is irreplaceable. If they have time to look trough the classifieds during work you must really not have much work for them to do in the first place. Gen Y needs to be constantly challanged, you need to understand that we grew up in a fast paced environment. In an era where technological advances at a mush faster rate than the time you were brought up in. Gen Y employees learn fast, develop fast and expect a company to retain them with a clear career path. If all you can tell your employee is your job will be an administrator for now and the next 5 years, who will wanna stay in such a mindless job? I would sprint out of your company in a heartbeat! And honestly, no right minded employee will want to pay their own short notice. If they can afford to give you short notice, it must be because the new hiring company is paying for them. Which means that new company recognises their talent much more than you do.

    So after all I’ve said, maybe you should be the one to stop whining and start behaving as an adult. If we were really the ones hiding behind mama’s shadow, I’m pretty sure we mimic our mama’s action. Judging by your word’s, our mama’s are probably your age, so we are afterall just following the example set forth for us from people like you. I’ve finally decided to say this as there are recently so many acticles on how Gen Y’s are weak, easily crushed strawberries. If you don’t know how to engage us, don’t put the blame on us. Blame yourself for not having an open mind.

  26. ek seng said

    Very true..nowadays everyone want easy money……i work in the FnB line as a pastry chef and i can more than 90% of graduated culinary n pastry students leave the FnB line 5 years…why? Long working hours..split shifts 6 days fixed off day..having to come back to work to cover ur staff while he/she is on mc…miserable pay..bonus only when company is doing good…goes on n on…..i guess most want more money cause they got gfs want to buy this n that n this and that…

  27. choochootrain said

    We need a serious downturn to wake up the GenY , of course I hope we don’t have to go through that.

  28. Dan said

    On the other side of the story, SME bosses refused to lower their take home earnings despite facing intense competition from GLCs and global competitors.

    Their lifestyles have to be maintained despite knowing they are losing their competitive advantage to others even though they operate in a stable and “corrupt” free economy in Singapore

    Therefore exploitation of their staffs is the easiest way way for them, unable to boost sales means to cut costs. With foreigners being much more desperate and willing to be most obedient to get a job here, to give them a new lease of life as compared to what their hometowns can offer. Undercutting by means of absorbing the employers portion of tax into their salary is an undeclared norm practice.

    The older generation of Gen X Singaporean bosses should consider to forget the idea of being as bosses and return to the workforce and employees instead. But that is a no go for them cause there will always be another foreign sucker who is willing to be exploited to get a new lease of life.

  29. Dye said

    Shocked by the responses.

  30. KP said

    Can blame no one. If the environment specifically allowed such activities or attitude to happen. Of course these people have not met a power boss/environment.

  31. building a company is not the same as building a nation said

    Mr Lam, please ask yourself:
    Why USA multinational still employing Singaporeans? Your points are not wrong, but are not right as well.

    When you employ foreigner, which is from other country and the system is different from our, hence their thinking and attituede is different. In Chinese old saying” 外国的月亮特别圆“

    Your comparison is not wrong, but is not right. But If you compare in depth, you will know that there is no point in comparing. Different people will have different comment. One cannot succeed in one trade, but other can succeed in doing it. One can employ more local people, but one has to employ oversea people. One more thing, building country is different from building company. So do not put your building company idea into building country.

    If you are a good boss, talk to government and find out how to bring out our generation to meet country requirements, and not just getting foreigners into our country.

  32. You are stating facts. Singapore used to be internationally respected as a city State of high calibre human capital. Singapore Airlines is a good example. It was the jewel of South East Asia where benchmarks are set. The “rugged” society is no more as baby boomers are reaching retirement.
    There is hope left if the leadership show the way to these wimps of the Y Generation.
    Those days the citizens respected the “authorities” and kept in line as there were enemies within and without. The PAP is still the best governing party but they have to re-engineer themselves as times and attitudes have changed.

    I love Singapore although I am not a citizen.

  33. A Man said

    Taking on that job, is in itself, preparing one for a life of mediocrity.

    I don’t know what kind of local talent you are trying to attract because honestly, the job lacks the opportunity to learn transferable skills, the pay is much lower than the average and like you said, it’s in a SME, which accords less ‘brand name’ as compared to a MNC. So say, if I take up your job, work there for 2 years, and decide for a change of environment and challenge- where can I go and who will want me then?

    Have you seen the Gen Y workers in MNCs/bulge-bracket investment banks/Big 4 accounting firms, and observed their working ability, attitudes and behaviour there? I guarantee it isn’t as you described.

  34. von D. said

    Basically wat u saying is better to employ cheap ft? Maybe u need to study why ur employee behave as such.

  35. Singapore boy said

    $1800 for diploma fresh grad, 5 days/week, office hours, admin work. Not good enough? Face it, local or not, everyone wants to slack. Let the willing take it up, the whiners suck it up.

  36. nomorewalkover said

    Sinkie bosses, you think too highly of yourselves and your puny kuching kurap companies.
    No wonder you support the pro-FT policies of the PAP, and most likely voted for PAP too.
    An employer who always hire the cheapest option will NEVER invest in its own people (training or perks).

  37. Kohuna said

    Wow so not succeeding in life through the socially-acceptable ways would mean mediocrity. So you stupid chink just who the fuck are you really to actually talk down on those others who may not have a good education or opportunities in life? You are only an SME business owner and for a small fry you talk so big as if you founded Creative. How laughable! No no you bladder-faced fucking sack of shit just kindly be nice and shut your hole up and remain the small, average and middle-classed failure nobody throughout your life. Also do not try to jinx people across all classes just because you through your own bad luck and karma happened to experience an overwhelming number of those simply good-for-nothing forgettable local workers who are only more useless than you are already.

  38. Fed Up Singaporean said

    We the Gen Y are FORCED to think this way because of losing out to foreigners. Those who do not understand have to put themselves in our shoes in the first place.

    We already lose out to foreigners who come in and take our jobs when we are still in studies/NS.

    We really need more money as cost of living does NOT affect the foreigners as much as it affects us, true-born Singaporeans. Who have no choice and cannot run away when there is trouble.

    We need careers where we can build towards a bright future, not doing the same thing until we are 70 years old. Who studies for more then 10 years to prepare for a job that makes you do the same things for 40 years? Our education systems also doesn’t make sense. How many can actually say the loads and loads of things we study are applicable in our jobs?

    There are many more examples but when you get to the bottom line, when the culture is to judge a person on how many ‘A’ he can get, it WILL NOT produces people with high moral values.

    • James said

      This is called the worker-employer dichotomy. Workers always want more pay and less work. Bosses want to squeeze productivity out of every cents. The pitiable job interview will only address initial impressions but the probation period can detect role suitability. I recently had a camp buddy who introduced his reservist section mate who just graduated from his ITE business certification. He was offered an above market pay but within 2 weeks, he was caught several times surfing the net. He was verbally counselled but he persisted in his excessive surfing habit in the law firm. He was finally asked to leave but he did not even bother serving his notice period. He was also not grateful to my friend who introduced him. While I can comprehend about working culture and adaptability, it does seem that such poor attitude exist after several generation of cushy living. This can be the reason for the employment structural rigidities in Europe. How often have we heard of the comment that the European are lazy and does not work hard? I think this is a stereotype but nevertheless, there is an iota of truth in this logic. There is nothing we can do more other than inculcating the value of honesty, integrity and hard work during our youth’s formative years

  39. nohardfewlings said

    i only have one question for Mr Lam and all SME owners..

    lets say you have 2 very hardworking singaporeans gen Y working for you. they work very very hard for u for 3 years, attitude damn good, take low pay to prove to you their worth.. the first 3 years the company do very well… then suddenly the economy tank… the company start to bleed… suddenly you realised you need to retrench one of them… what will you do? both are equally good but you have to let one go…. how?? got gam cheng to talk or not??

    in business, people come and go, it is natural like life and death.. dont take it so personally…. it is not the duty of the employee to take your biz risk and operating risk.. that is why when good time, the employee only earn your monthly salary and bonus nia. while you eat all the profits. we, employee dont begrudge that.. so dun begrudge us when we find greener pastures.. this is basic human right and instinct – everyone have the right to seek a better life for themselves.. that includes the FTs you hire….. dont hate the player, hate the game…. u shld ask yourself, who set the rules of the game??

  40. 我牛牛牛 said

    To begin with, the cream of local workers are usually graduates from good foreign universities, and they gravitate towards the civil service (if they’re overseas merit scholars etc) or MNCs with a strong reputations, kickass technology/product/service/solutions profiles and only SMEs if its a family business and daddy/mommy/grandpa/close relative is in charge and has made them an offer they can’t say no to. The only profile in linkedin that matches your purported name in Singapore is affilated with an American MNC, so I’ve no idea what wonderful “home grown” SME you emanate from, or if you’re even the big boss there, or a mere order-taker/peon intent on winding people up here. In any event, your ad hoc empirical biases and sweeping rants are noted, I’m not even Gen Y but I do think you’re obnoxious, and compared to the trolls in usenet, twitter or even facebook political pages, you’re a mere juvenile. Thank you for participating though, don’t let the door hit you on the way out! 😀

  41. COME ON! said

    I guess as a boss or a business owner, what i want to see is my employees bringing profits or benefits for my company or business.If that can be done,at the end of the day and my business can still carry on with good incentives, why would you care about the process?

    All the MC taking and driving car to pick up girlfriends and all ( and seriously, if you are so calculative until restricting company car is only for business purpose…YOU ARE A MISER!) and watching korean shows online( which i also think abit over!) doesn’t mean anything right? It is only when things aren’t going good, your business not making cash, then people will turn to such attitudes to take all the blame… having said that… i suppose the author is the latter? I seriously hope not though. Hence, if the end product is presented and satisfied, all those bad attitudes seems so frivolous.isn’t it?

    And seriously, i have work with people from other countries because and i can say that, PLEASE! You are just too hard on SIngaporeans… almost everywhere else, there are people like that.

    • Bai Hu said

      If u think that this kinda attitude is alright – doing personal things during office hours, then I hope that u can be a boss one of these days & employ the whole lot of them. For your information, I start to check on them when there are complaints of late submissions, wrong us of drawing revisions, not able to answer to queries from authorities which they are supposed to know the answer. All along I ve been closing an eye & monitoring. Furthermore, I also did lash out on foreign engineers too. I am not targeting any nationality for your info.

  42. Wowoking said here is some free advice to a dinosaur SME ah Beng like you…form a Fifty year old.

  43. b-1 said

    magnificent post, very informative. I wonder why the other
    specialists of this sector don’t notice this. You must continue your writing. I am confident, you have a huge readers’ base already!

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