Skip to main content



Singapore firms take nearly 4 years to promote workers: Survey

SINGAPORE — Workers in Singapore have to wait much longer than others in the region to get a promotion, and they hold different views from employers on how one gets promoted at work.

Photo: Reuters

Photo: Reuters

Follow us on Instagram and Tiktok, and join our Telegram channel for the latest updates.

SINGAPORE — Workers in Singapore have to wait much longer than others in the region to get a promotion, and they hold different views from employers on how one gets promoted at work. 

These were the key findings of a report on job promotions, released yesterday by online employment site

Companies here take close to four years to offer formal promotions to employees, which is about a year longer than those in the region. 

A formal promotion is defined by the survey as a change in job title or level in the organisation, along with extra compensation and benefits.

However, workers here perceive that a promotion is given in about five years. 

The report was based on a survey of close to 10,400 workers and about 520 employers from a mix of industries. 

They were from seven countries, namely Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. 

The survey also found that employers and employees have different ideas about what is the most important factor that affects a promotion. 

Workers believe that a person’s circle of influence has the most impact on his or her promotion. 

They rate it as the top factor after leadership traits, performance or attitude, on-the-job skills and period of service. 

Employers, on the other hand, believe that on-the-job skills are the most important, followed by leadership traits, and performance or attitude. Circle of influence was considered the least important factor when considering promotions.

Ms Chook Yuh Yng, country manager for Singapore, said: “This mismatch may be shaped by the working environment’s cultural differences, and perceptions derived from employees’ previous working experiences. 

“The differing opinions raise speculation about promotion practices, leading to negative sentiments in this competitive and mature job market.”

On top of that, workers thought that their department heads had the most influence in determining their promotions, whereas employers said that “top management” has the most influence.

Singapore companies also offer the lowest pay increase: An average of 14 per cent, compared with the region’s 16 to 24 per cent. 

This discrepancy may affect workers’ morale, the report said, because the extra responsibilities that come with a promotion do not translate into added value for their careers.

In other findings from the survey, half of the hirers in Singapore reported that the budget for promotions in companies is not cast in stone, indicating that promotion opportunities are available for those who perform well.

The report also said that Singapore workers view promotion practices negatively: They rated “fairness of promotion processes” poorly — 2.64 out of seven — and gave a 3.23 rating for “fairness of promotion outcomes”. 

This negativity could be due to the mismatched expectations between workers and employers outlined earlier, the report stated.

The survey and report were done to try to understand the promotion process and various factors influencing promotions, as well as workers’ attitudes towards promotion practices. 

Ms Chook said: “The results of the survey can be a good reference point for hirers and employees. Hirers can use the promotion sentiment to improve their talent management strategies and policies, while employees can take note of factors that influence promotions to hone their skills, and better ready themselves in their careers.”

Read more of the latest in



Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.