15 February 2022 Parliamentary Replies

Oral Reply to Parliamentary Question on attrition in the Public Service

Oral Reply to Parliamentary Question on attrition in the Public Service

Parliamentary Sitting: 15 February 2022

Mr Patrick Tay Teck Guan: To ask the Prime Minister in light of the Public Service being at the forefront of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and taking a toll on the workers in the Public Service (a) whether the Public Service is also seeing an increase in attrition; (b) what is being done to look after the health and welfare of workers in the Public Service; and (c) what is the Government doing to ensure that the compensation and benefits of workers in the Public Service remain competitive.

Oral Reply by Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Education and Minister-in-charge of the Public Service.

Mr Speaker, the Public Service has seen an increase in attrition across the board. The resignation rate for the Management Executive Scheme, the largest generic scheme in the Civil Service, reached a 10-year peak of 9.9% in 2021, and the attrition has clearly picked up momentum in the last 6 months. Some specific segments, such as Info-communication Technology (ICT), are experiencing elevated competitive pressures in the face of talent shortages and facing resignation rates that are even higher.

There are various factors contributing to attrition from the Public Service, including pressures of the job, pay, and opportunities for professional development and progression. In particular, over the past two years, public officers have had to face intense pressure, working tirelessly to sustain the fight against COVID-19.  At times, they also have to deal with anxious and even demanding members of the public in the course of their COVID-related work. The shift to remote work has also blurred the line between work and life. There is a risk of an increase in attrition from the Public Service, as the economy recovers and job offers from the private sector increase.

Amidst the high demands of the work, the Public Service will step up efforts to streamline processes and continue to provide clarity of direction in helping our officers relate their work and contributions to the core purpose of serving Singapore and Singaporeans. At the same time, the Service has also stepped up efforts to support and care for the health and mental wellbeing of public officers. We are conducting regular webinars on wellbeing-related topics such as resilience, mindfulness, nutrition, and physical exercise. We introduced a 24/7 counselling hotline as well as “mindline at work”, a digital platform to help public officers access mental health resources. We have also built up a community of over 900 Wellness Ambassadors from 80 agencies. These are public officers who have volunteered to be trained and provide basic emotional support to fellow colleagues and act as ambassadors for mental wellbeing.

The Public Service will review salaries and benefits of public officers and adjust them where necessary to keep pace with the market. These periodic adjustments help to enable the Public Service to attract and retain its fair share of talent so that we can continue to deliver a high quality of services for Singaporeans. In addition, we have made several moves to enhance the employee value proposition of a career in the Public Service, by expanding job rotations and attachments outside the public sector, to make work more interesting and fulfilling as officers get to experience and learn new things constantly.