We have heard it before — Singaporeans work the longest hours, clocking more than 11 hours per day, a number that surpasses even countries like South Korea and Japan.

But, while we work the longest hours, our productivity levels are falling, according to a 2009 report published by The Conference Board.

It is not surprising that the Singapore Government dedicated more than $5 billion in 2010 to boost overall annual productivity over the next 10 years, with a call to companies here to help boost productivity.

Tellingly, Singaporeans don’t just work long hours. They also have a tendency to change jobs often. According to a recent Human Resources report, Singapore is one of top three countries with the highest attrition rate in the South-east Asian region. Among the reasons employees leave are limited growth and a lack of work-life balance.

So how can employers attract and retain talented employees? How do they ensure that these employees remain happy and contented, with few reasons to leave?

For employers, here are some solutions to consider:

Listen to your staff

Research has shown that a happy, more engaged employee is a productive one.

Happy employees have the potential to make 37 per cent more in sales and are three times more creative than unhappy employees.

How do you boost your staff happiness quotient? Says Ms Kiran Kaur, regional HR director at furniture and electronics retailer Courts Asia: “Ensure engagement platforms to allow staff the opportunity to give their feedback, and air their concerns and challenges.”

Be flexible

Give your staff the flexibility to help them balance their various commitments, as they are not only your employees, they are also mothers and fathers, caregivers to their family members, and individuals with interests outside work.

Offering flexible hours and/or work options for your staff requires an element of trust and willingness, but the effort is worth it if it produces happier, more engaged employees.

Think flexi-hours, a compressed work week, part-time options and more.

Provide training

Help your staff grow in their roles and portfolios. Provide training so they are knowledgeable about the products they are selling.

It is no accident that employees at Courts Singapore registered a higher productivity level than the national average, with sales staff generating 37 per cent more sales per individual.

Staff at the furniture and electronics retail giant are trained regularly on the sales floor and are given briefings and training sessions every morning before they begin their shift.

Retain older talent

Have a rehiring model in place to retain older talent. Older employees have decades of experience in the working world and they can be great role models and mentors to the younger generation of workers.

This is a great opportunity to harness their wealth of knowledge as they can teach younger staff the ropes and act as brand ambassadors for the company. Retaining older talent is also a great way to reward loyalty.

Be fair

While it is good to be a fair employer, it is more important to practise what you preach. Having an open mind and flexible HR policies can help to attract talent from all walks of life. It is equally important to consider all eligible candidates on a level playing field.

Explains Ms Kaur: “We practise fair employment and have hired staff who are working mothers, retirees and ex-offenders. At the end of the day, it is important to consider their skill sets and how well these will fit into the roles we have available.”

It is common for the sales industry to experience a higher-than-usual staff attrition rate. For a retail company like Courts, retaining good sales staff on the sales floor is as important as ensuring that these staff are engaged on a similar level as those in the warehousing department and the management office, as well as the drivers and delivery workers who ensure the products arrive safely at customers’ homes.

The company frequently organises feedback and team-building sessions for employees and maintains an open-door policy across departments to give staff the opportunity to discuss issues or challenges they may face at work.

If employers successfully implement these strategies, they will have a happy, engaged workforce that is committed, productive and loyal to the company.