ACCORDING to Chinese tradition, the Year of the Rabbit is forecast to be a calmer 12 months for the labour market in Singapore. Recruitment and HR services provider Randstad says that with the economic recovery well underway and rising business optimism, this will be a year of reconnecting.

Business leaders will need to reconnect with their employees through open and honest communication to ensure they are happy, motivated and engaged and ready for the challenges that lay ahead.

The last 18 months need to be openly acknowledged as one of the most challenging times in the last two decades, and employees will be looking for acknowledgement and recognition of their hard work. A thank-you can take many forms, and it will be appreciated if it is personal and appropriate for each individual employee.

Smarter businesses will be increasing efficiencies this year by focusing on talent retention, training and development and offering a range of employee benefits to ensure that their people are engaged and motivated to perform to their maximum potential.

And looking ahead as conditions continue to improve, companies will have to focus on attracting talent to ensure ongoing business growth. The New Year often brings movement and mobility of talent, so if this is the case, do your best to attract top talent before another organisation snaps them up.

A top priority for businesses this year will be to ensure they have well-trained people ready to tackle the challenges and opportunities 2011 will bring. Ensuring that their people are ready to hit the ground running, with a full understanding of the business, the market and customers needs, is critical. 

The following tips will help you evaluate your career and hit the ground running this year:

Stop and think

Assess your career goals and ensure that your expectations are meeting the market’s expectations — that way you will not be disappointed. Look back on your achievements, celebrate positive milestones and map out your new goals. This can be a refreshing and energising process and a great way to feel inspired about work again. If you are looking to change jobs, ensure that you are moving for the right reasons.

Take time out

The old adage “absence makes the heart grow fonder” can also be true at work. Not taking time out often leads to stress and finding yourself bogged down in the little things. Find some time to relax and you will feel re-energised to deal with the exciting developments awaiting you later in the year.

Be prepared

If you are considering a career move, ensure you spend time brushing up on interview skills. Prepare answers for interview questions, particularly behavioural interview questions, and update your resumé. If there are any short courses you were thinking of doing which could help with your next career move, the summer period of May to July could prove to be just the right time to get into this project.

Play to your strengths

If you are currently in a job, you need to continue to play to your strengths. Know what it is you are good at and don’t focus on the negatives. When you focus on talents and not shortfalls, you will experience positivity and strength to meet any challenge thrown at you.

Always investigate learning and development programmes offered by your employer, even if they are not strictly related to your existing area of expertise. Go with what you find interesting as well as what would help advance your career.

Act now

Do not wait for opportunity to knock on your door. Whether it is within your current organisation or even within a totally new role, your time to act is right now. Open your mind to opportunities that you would not have evaluated previously — you might be surprised with what you discover.

Above all, stay motivated and confident. The continued economic recovery in 2011 presents a window of opportunity for employees and job seekers — act decisively and you could be in a dominant position to take advantage of the opportunities during the year.