The work ethic is a crucial part of a country's success, and Singapore is no exception. If the recent Gallup poll, which suggested that Singapore workers are not engaged in their work, has any use at all, it is that it gives people cause for pause. This is particularly so when the workforce profile is changing. There are more PMETs and millennial-generation workers, and it is vital for organisations to embrace engagement as a strategic goal, if they have not done so already. The issue goes beyond just ramping up an organisation's key performance indicators or boosting its bottom line. It can make a big difference to the quality of the work life of individuals. Hence, there is value in making staff engagement a priority.

Many strategies have been outlined by trainers and career coaches. Lines of communication between staff and senior management must be open at all times, for example. The new generation of employees like to know they have access to their bosses, when they have a need to ask or to talk. Whether they are working in an organisation with thousands of employees, or in a five-person outfit, communication is the key to engagement. Anecdotally, this is one area where Singapore supervisors are weak. They do not communicate enough with their staff. Employees like to know how what they do in their job fits into the bigger picture. They also want to be able to see that their job is important.

Traditional hierarchies, however, still abound and supervisors (even, or perhaps, at the C-suite levels) are known to pull rank and distance themselves from the rank and file. But that is a failing. Supervisors must recognise that millennial workers like to be talked to as adults, which they are, and not talked down to. And there must be inspired leadership. Workers respond to strong leaders who know what they want and how to get it.