SINGAPORE (June 5): Despite fears of having their jobs replaced by automation, nearly three quarters of Singaporean employees surveyed say they are happy to retrain into a new role if their salary remained the same or higher, according to Randstad’s Employer Brand Research 2017 survey.

In a media release dated Monday, the recruitment firm says its annual study found that an average of one in five employees (17.3%) across Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia believe that automation will take their jobs away.

While Singapore and Hong Kong employees are most convinced they would lose jobs to automation at 19% and 20% respectively, Malaysian employees were most relaxed with only 13% under the impression that technology would pose a risk to their job security.

On the other hand, most of Singapore’s employees (72%) remain optimistic about retraining provided that their salaries would remain the same or higher than before, followed by Malaysia (70%) and with Hong Kong coming in third at a significantly lower proportion (52%).

In-line with this sentiment, Hong Kong employees were the most resistant against the idea of retraining into a new role with 17% saying they would rather move to another company to retrain, with Singapore in the middle (8%) and Malaysian employees coming in last (6%).

Nevertheless, large groups of employees were observed by Randstad to hold a positive outlook on automation on the question of whether it would make their jobs better – with Malaysian employees displaying the highest level of optimism at 51% and Hong Kong being the least optimistic at 39%.

Singapore ranked in between at 45%.

“Through discussions with senior leaders from varying industries, we’ve seen that many organisations are in the midst of executing digital strategies incorporating automation into their daily business operations – including Randstad. With many employees are already experiencing some level of automation being integrated into their daily work lives, it's clear why nearly half of employees in the region feel that automation will make their jobs easier,” says Michael Smith, managing director of Randstad Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

Smith describes automation as a polarising subject, which he believes the latest survey findings clearly reinforce.

“The results further highlight the need for organisations to pay even more attention to the sentiments of their employees and potential talent to understand what they need to focus on to be an employer of choice,” he adds.