Labour chief urges leaders to 'adopt a new mindset' amid crisis

NTUC's leader understands that businesses are 'fighting fires every day' – but they must continue to transform

Labour chief urges leaders to 'adopt a new mindset' amid crisis

Leaders must remain “open and adopt a new mindset” amidst the COVID-19 crisis, even as they “fight fires” every day to keep the business afloat, said Ng Chee Meng, Singapore’s labour chief.

In a virtual conference on national and job security, the secretary-general at the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) shared the struggles of business leaders across the city-state.

Times have been tough for all, especially those from small and medium-sized enterprises (SME). Many leaders across different sectors have shared with him their struggle, particularly with retaining workers.

They told him they would not have been able to keep workers on their payroll without wage support such as the Job Support Scheme. They explained that pay cuts alone have not been enough to ensure job security for workers.

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Ng reminded leaders to remain agile during these tough times, reported The Straits Times.

“During this period, business owners and workers must be open and adopt a new mindset,” he said. “While the unfortunate reality is that there will be job losses, what we can do is to minimise the impact by placing workers into new jobs – be it full-time, part-time or contract jobs, or even secondments – to ensure that workers are still able to draw a salary during this period."

Beyond managing short-term issues, Ng said companies and workers must continue to transform and reskill for the future.

“This need for companies to transform is not new,” he said. “If anything, COVID-19 has made it even more apparent and urgent that businesses will have to accelerate transformation, leverage digitalisation and move towards Industry 4.0.”

READ MORE: Will COVID-19 drastically change the way we work?

This sentiment is echoed by Amit Singh, Head of HR for Asia & Japan at AXA Investment Managers, who believes the crisis is “not the change maker” for businesses – it’s simply an accelerator for transformation.

“The need for change always existed and the need for flexible working or remote working was always there,” Singh said. “And that need [during] the crisis made companies suddenly change and be able to work remotely and deliver to their customers.

“Now that we know it is possible in most cases, there would be a greater push for moving towards flexible and remote working policies and guidelines.”

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