Curiosity@Work Report | Insights by Country
Key Findings for Singapore
- Managers in Singapore struggle, similarly to their global peers, with issues related to employee morale, retention and collaboration, as well as face challenges related to hiring applicants with necessary technical and interpersonal skills.
- Singapore-based managers believe that curiosity is an intrinsic skill that will become more important for employees to have, no matter their level. Its importance is driven from the belief that employees who are curious are also higher performers. Singapore follows the global trend of other nations, particularly Germany, in holding this belief.
- Curiosity can help to address the concerns of managers in Singapore. Highly valuable benefits of curiosity include encouraging more productivity (51%), creative thinking (55%) and engagement (46%) within the workplace and among employees.
- Overall trends show Singapore-based managers have a desire to foster this skill in the workplace and realize its benefits, but beliefs are hampered by concerns for curiosity’s potential to lead to increased errors or bad decisions (46% highly concerned). Managers in Singapore need further guidance on how curiosity can be effectively utilized and developed in direct reports to compliment and amplify the efforts they are already making to foster this trait.
- Around a third of managers in Singapore (29%) fall into a category of individuals considered to be highly curious based on the SAS Curiosity Index (on par with global findings). These managers exhibit high workplace engagement and motivation and often encourage this valuable skill among their direct reports in multiple ways.
Curiosity is an increasingly valuable employee trait at the global level – and managers in Singapore are on a path to embracing its value.
Amid the Great Resignation and current hiring frenzy, 72% of managers globally believe curiosity is a very valuable trait in employees. The value placed on curiosity by managers is particularly high in markets like India (85%) and Brazil (89%).
Managers in Singapore are more on par with markets like Germany. These managers:
- Believe curiosity is a very valuable trait in employees (56% in Singapore and 59% in Germany).
- Believe less that curiosity is much more important for employees to have today than it was five years ago (36% in Singapore and 38% in Germany vs. 51% globally).
Despite the high value placed on curiosity by many, the opinions of managers in Singapore on this trait are still forming. For more than 2 in 5 managers in Singapore:
- Curiosity is only somewhat valuable as a trait in employees (42%).
- It is only somewhat more important for employees to have curiosity today than it was five years ago (57%).
These managers are likely to agree that employees who have curiosity are higher performers but are less apt to say this trait can drive real business impact versus most of their global peers – likely driven by where these managers believe curiosity provides the most value.
- Strongly agree employees who have more curiosity tend to be higher performers (52%).
- Strongly agree curiosity in employees drives real business impact (48% in Singapore vs. 59% globally).
Managers in Singapore, like their global peers, believe curiosity is a very valuable trait across organizational levels, though they do not place greater value on this trait within leadership versus other positions:
- C-suite executives (49% in Singapore vs. 58% globally).
- Directors and departmental leaders (51%).
- Midlevel managers (55%).
- Entry-level employees (50%).
When asked in which departments it is especially valuable for employees to have curiosity, Singapore managers say:
- IT (62%).
- Research and development (58%).
- Marketing (44%).
Like their global counterparts, managers in Singapore recognize that curiosity is a skill that can address key business challenges and concerns.
Top employee challenges managers in Singapore are facing:
- Keeping employee morale/motivation high (61%).
- Cross-collaboration with other teams/departments (59%).
- Getting employees to push beyond just basic job duties (55%).
- Retaining good employees (53%).
Managers in Singapore recognize the potential benefits of curious employees:
- More creative thinking and solutions (55%).
- More flexibility and adaptability during times of uncertainty (53%).
- Greater efficiency and productivity (51%).
- Stronger collaboration and teamwork (50%).
- More empathy and inclusivity (47%).
- Greater employee engagement and job satisfaction (46%).
- Greater diversity of thoughts and perspectives (46%).
Managers in Singapore, like their global peers, note the interconnectedness of curiosity and data expertise and digital integration.
To succeed in the next three years, managers in Singapore need employees with:
- Technical skills in artificial intelligence (65%) and data analysis (61%).
- Personal attributes like problem solving (65%) and creative thinking (64%).
Focusing on the beneficial outcomes of curiosity, managers in Singapore believe it is valuable for employees to have this trait when:
- Innovating new solutions (61%).
- Understanding the hearts and minds of customers (51%).
- Tackling complex problems (50%).
- Analyzing data (49%).
Managers who rate high in curiosity: 
- Use an average of four different data sources in their roles.
- Typically use customer data (64%), performance metric data (61%) and employee data (51%).
These more curious managers, globally and in Singapore, tend to be more advanced in their company's integration of digital technology, as well. Overall, just a quarter (26%) of Singapore managers believe their company’s integration of digital technology is very advanced, compared to two-fifths of those who rate high in curiosity (41%), highlighting how curiosity can help organizations adapt and become more competitive.
Curiosity is integral to workplace success and career advancement in Singapore.
Many companies in Singapore have formally included curiosity (or similar traits) in:
- Employee performance review criteria (71%).
- Company training and development (67%).
- Promotion and advancement decisions (62%).
- Hiring criteria (60%).
Like managers in other markets, those in Singapore personally consider or encourage curiosity via:
- Employee performance reviews (80%).
- Coaching or team development (80%).
- Hiring decisions (77%).
- Promotion or advancement decisions (72%).
Views toward curiosity are complex. Many managers in Singapore remain hesitant to encourage this trait and struggle with how to identify or develop it – like many of their global counterparts.
Over half of managers in Singapore note they are only somewhat or not equipped to identify curiosity in:
- Job applicants (59%).
- Direct reports (55%).
About 2 in 5 managers in Singapore (on par with global averages) are very concerned about curiosity’s potential to lead to:
- Increased risk of errors or bad decisions (46%).
- Greater difficulty coming to a final decision or taking action (39%).
- Greater difficulty managing employees (37%).
- Decreased efficiency or productivity (36%).
These managers, like their global counterparts, admit they find it challenging to:
- Develop curiosity in employees who don’t naturally have it (50%).
- Setting metrics or evaluating curiosity in employees (46%).
- Identifying situations or problems for which curiosity is most useful (43%).
- Identifying job applicants who have curiosity (42%).
- Connecting curiosity to job performance (42%).
- Identifying employees who have curiosity (40%).
Like their global peers, many managers in Singapore require information on how curiosity can lead to real business impact, as well as guidance on how to effectively foster this trait. About 1 in 5 managers (18%) in Singapore believe their employers are not doing enough to encourage and foster creativity in the workplace, and a similar number (18%) believe employees and job applicants today do not have enough of this trait.
More-curious managers exhibit greater workplace engagement and work to foster this skill among direct reports in several ways – both globally and within Singapore. There is an opportunity for more managers in Singapore to excel past a moderate expression of curiosity in the workplace.
The Curiosity Index  was used to measure the prevalence of workplace curiosity in managers. Managers in Singapore are generally on par with global averages and can be categorized as:
- High curiosity (most inclined to identify with statements defining a curious nature) (29%).
- Moderate curiosity (51%).
- Low curiosity (least inclined to identify with statements defining a curious nature) (19%).
Highly curious managers in Singapore embrace differing ideas and have a relentless pursuit of knowledge and understanding. They often strongly agree that:
- They like to hear others’ opinions, even if they are confident in their approach (88%).
- It is important to listen to ideas from people who think differently (83%).
- They continue to seek information until they understand complex problems fully (81%).
Further highlighting the value of curiosity in helping companies address some of their key challenges when it comes to employee retention and performance, highly curious managers both globally and in Singapore are likely to:
- Strongly agree they would continue to work for their employer for as long as possible (71%).
- Strongly agree they feel motivated to go above and beyond what their job requires (81%).
- Say their direct reports’ performance is very strong (53%).
The top methods more-curious managers in Singapore use to foster and encourage curiosity are by:
- Allowing the use of work time to explore passion projects (71%).
- One-on-one coaching or mentoring (66%).
- Publicly praising employees who demonstrate curiosity (56%).
Managers across the curiosity spectrum can be further divided into one of four segments based on how each segment values curiosity in the workplace in various ways.
Compared to many of their global peers, more managers in Singapore fall into the segments that believe curiosity only brings partial or no added benefit to the workplace. Managers in Singapore can be categorized as:
- High-curiosity collaborators (26% of Singapore managers vs. 35% globally). The most curious segment. These managers value collaboration, are teamwork driven and are relentless in finding answers. They do this through listening and valuing co-workers' ideas and continuously seeking opportunities to expand skills but are more hesitant when new challenges present themselves. Focused on curiosity, these managers believe this trait leads to greater efficiency and productivity at work and results in greater job satisfaction.
- Flexibility-driven opinion seekers (30% of Singapore managers vs. 26% globally). These managers embrace challenges, and the possibility of being distressed does not affect their motivation. Curiosity leads to greater flexibility and adaptability during times of uncertainty and can bring more empathy and inclusivity to workplaces. These managers do not believe that curiosity leads to a boost in efficiency or overall team performance.
- Productivity-focused leaders (23% of Singapore managers vs. 24% globally). These managers believe curiosity can lead to stronger collaboration and teamwork and help increase efficiency and productivity in the workplace. They do not, however, believe curiosity drives inclusivity and diversity of thought.
- Anti-curiosity leaders (21% of Singapore managers vs. 16% globally). The smallest segment, these managers do not believe curiosity adds any value to performance or the workplace.
 Base note: n=59 high-curiosity managers; results should be viewed as directional.
 The 2021 Curiosity Index: The Curiosity Index score is based on the ratings of eight different attributes related to curiosity in the workplace. The index transforms the attributes’ raw ratings into a 0-100 metric where all the scores are averaged. Managers with a score of 71 or lower ranked “low” in the index; managers with a score ranging from 72 to 83 were categorized as “medium”; and those with a score of 84 or higher were assigned to the “high” category. The thresholds in each category were derived based on the index score distribution and best practices. Questions used in the development of this index were inspired by research conducted by Todd Kashdan and his team on the topic of curiosity in the workplace, “Curiosity has comprehensive benefits in the workplace: Developing and validating a multidimensional workplace curiosity scale in United States and German employees.”
Given its global value and impact, it is evident that curiosity is an increasingly necessary and crucial skill employees across levels need to develop, as well as a trait that organizations must foster to remain competitive. Singapore-based managers’ opinions on this skill are still evolving, and there is a complexity to the value placed on curiosity and how managers and their organizations embrace this trait in the workplace. Many Singapore-based managers agree curiosity is a very valuable trait, leads to higher performing employees and is important across organizational levels. But they struggle to see the real business impact. These insights, paired with Singapore managers’ concern about the risks of curiosity, highlight a need for a wider conversation about curiosity in the workplace and the implementation of initiatives and training that solidify this trait as an essential skill. Curiosity can foster more creative and productive workplaces and address challenges related to employee morale and retention – key to mitigating the Great Resignation and cross-collaboration issues that many organizations are experiencing worldwide.
Knowing how to effectively develop this trait among employees is difficult. Many managers in Singapore, and on a global level, find it challenging to develop this skill among those who do not have it naturally, set metrics for evaluating this skill in employees or identify when curiosity is useful. Just under a third (29%) of managers in Singapore rank high in the Curiosity Index, but those identified as having more workplace curiosity in our research show increased motivation and satisfaction in their roles and actively work to incorporate curiosity in their managerial styles in multiple ways – like employee performance reviews or coaching and team development. The case for curiosity is clear. It is now up to organizations to embrace this trait and for managers to incorporate this skill in their employee development efforts or risk falling behind.