• Hire a local employee in Singapore

To hire and relocate an expat employee to Singapore is expensive, not to mention there are immigration compliance risks. In this case, hiring a local in Singapore seems like a better choice. However, there are different viewpoints to consider whether to hire a local employee or foreign workers. These are affected by the local culture in Singapore.

You might in a dilemma whether to hire foreigners and having them relocate to Singapore or hiring locals if you are launching a start-up in Singapore. Before you make your decision, you must know the advantages and disadvantages of each option and to understand the needs of your business and how it will affect you. Paul Hype page is a Ministry of Manpower registered recruitment agency, and we have years of experience in Singapore and countries around the region. We can advise you based on your business needs, to ensure business success.


Locals know the languages

While the administrative language of Singapore is English, the locals come from multi-racial backgrounds. Singapore has 4 official languages: English, Malay, Tamil, and Mandarin Chinese. There are also many dialects and other languages spoken by a small minority of residents. It is not uncommon for locals in Singapore to be proficient in 2 or 3 languages.

These language skills are especially valuable as they are for languages spoken around the region, and in China. This aids future expansion into the region, and importantly, communicating with regional suppliers. When your employees can communicate with suppliers and key stakeholders in their native language, they will establish a better working relationship, and be better able to manage that relationship.

If your business is looking to incorporate in Singapore or expand around the region, Paul Hype Page can assist in the incorporation process. With an international team in offices based in three countries, we can advise not only on business planning in a traditional sense but also on the languages and skills required for each market.

Additionally, the elderly generation in Singapore may not be English educated. If your business’s main clientele includes the elderly, it will be useful to have members of your staff that can communicate with them directly.

Knowledge of the local culture and business practices

Local candidates understand the Singapore business culture the best. While Singapore has a globalized community and business culture, there is still a prominent Eastern influence.

For instance, in Singapore meditating on questions posed is considered appropriate. When a client asks for clarification on a product or service, it seems intuitive to get the answer as soon as possible, this can however be interpreted as not fully understanding and considering the nuances of the question. This makes international parties seem rushed and clumsy in the minds of locals.

In meetings, it is also important to remain calm. When speaking about your business, it is easy to become passionate and invigorated. While this conveys enthusiasm and faith in your product in the West, becoming emotional during meetings can be judged as a sign of immaturity and being unworthy of respect in Singapore.

By hiring local Singaporeans, it can increase the productivity of your company and help in reducing financial loss.

Local schools’ network

Networking is everything in the business world. Another advantage of hiring locals is to expand your local network through the local employees. Many Singaporean graduated from the local polytechnics and universities. As an alumnus, they have an extensive local network that can help you to grow your business.

We’ve established how hiring local employees will give you insight to how your business can adapt to the local culture. If the time comes when your business is expanding and in need of specialised foreign talents, having local employees will benefit your position. It shows that the company has fully utilised resources in Singapore and justifies a strong need for foreign workers and the knowledge they can bring to you. With the tightening of foreign worker quotas and work pass requirements, the support you have given to the local community will be appreciated during your work pass application.

Having said that, consult Paul Hype Page & Co on how you can best express the strengths your company has on your work visa application.


Businesses are hierarchical

Corporate culture in Singapore, especially in smaller businesses is very similar to the family unit. There is a definitive hierarchy, and the boss is viewed as the parent. This lends itself to creating a fierce loyalty in Singapore. However, it also means employees are less likely to disagree with their boss. If your business relies on everyone in the team is proactive in suggesting new ideas and brainstorming, a local may be less likely to be helpful in such an instance.

This makes discussions feel more like mission briefings and can reduce the overall productivity in the workplace. Employees may silently acknowledge your plans will not work, however, they will carry it out to be a point of failure, to avoid disagreeing with you.

Separation of professional and personal relationships

Many foreigners will see their colleagues as friends, and regularly hang out with them out of the office. In Singapore, professional relationships are meant to be kept respectful, and this includes not being too friendly with your colleagues. It can be difficult to build meaningful connections with your employees, as there will always be a distance that the employees themselves do not want to be the bridge.

Communication Barrier

Singaporeans tend to use a specified means of communication. This is to be polite, as being direct is viewed as being aggressive and confrontational in Eastern values. Turning down may take various forms as opposed to saying a straight ‘no’. Some of the ways that one can politely turn one’s request is a hesitant no or saying words like ‘yes, but’, ‘sorry, I don’t think it will be possible, or simply not answering the inquiry. Objections are expected to be polite to avoid sounding rude that might cause the other party to be turned off or lose their face.

Business conversations may include a smattering of ‘Singlish’, a combination of English, Chinese and Malay words. Listen carefully to what your Singaporean counterpart is saying, whatever their ethnic origin. Without a lack of understanding, statements can easily be misinterpreted. An expressive language, intonation, and speed of speech can also be a clear indicator of what is meant by statements.

It is for this reason many Singaporeans prefer to handle professional communications by email or other forms of written communication. This allows for more well-thought-out conversations, and reduced misunderstanding, as the written word is not as easily misinterpreted.

Shared Services

Apart from traditional hiring of local employees under payroll, you can consider a more effective and modern methods of hiring: Shared Services. Our Shared Services Solution focuses on long term salary reduction and increasing value of existing staff. Available for Admin, Sales, Customer Service, Accounts, IT and HR executive roles. 

Explore 30% to 50% cost reductions compared to traditional hiring, based upon your scope of work. Upon making a hiring decision, your staff will be based out of our office in Singapore. For example, the market rate for Executive roles are $4,500. Our Shared Services Solution offers an example of $2,000 to $3,000.
Find out more about Shared Services here.


We’ve briefly covered the advantages and disadvantages of hiring local employees in Singapore. There is still much to know about Employment Laws in Singapore, and the paperwork involved in hiring locals or foreigners. Understand your obligations and liabilities with Paul Hype Page & Co. We have many human resource solutions from cost cutting measures to payroll services.

Should you hire a local employee in Singapore FAQs

What laws govern the employment of locals in Singapore?2020-11-17T16:45:29+08:00

Be it full-time, part-time, casual, or on-call workers, the Employment Act covers workers to govern the employment of locals in SingaporeHowever, the Employment Act does not cover: 

Executive and managerial positions: such positions are defined as those in which the person has direct authority and influence in the recruitment, management, and training of employees or managing and running of the business operations. This also applies to professionals of similar qualifications and experiences that carry out similar roles or responsibilities. Such professionals may include accountants, lawyers, doctors, and dentists. 

What is the minimum working age for Singaporean? Can I hire someone who is in high school?2020-11-17T16:45:08+08:00

The minimum age to work in Singapore is 17. However, individuals from 13 – 16 can be hired for certain roles, with concessions specific to them, check out the MOM website for details.

What are the platforms I can use to hire local employees in Singapore?2020-11-17T16:44:20+08:00

You can hire local employees in Singapore via university and polytechnics campuses, career and job fairs as well as the digital platform like Jobstreet, Indeed, JobsCentralMyCareersFutureGrabJobs, etc. 

Am I entitled to any grants if I hire local employees in Singapore?2020-11-17T16:42:51+08:00

Yes, the Singapore Government provides Enhanced Hiring Incentives for employers that hire local Singaporeans. If the hired employees had undergone an eligible reskilling or training program, you will receive subsidy for their salary up to 40% for a half year, maximum of $12,000 altogether. 

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