15 November 2013

Numbers, numbers, numbers

15 November 2013

My name is Steve Lee, and I am with MOM’s Manpower Research and Statistics Department (MRSD). It is not a frontline department, but one which certainly attracts attention when we put out statistics which in turn spur discussions, such as on the labour market situation. 

I have been with the MRSD for the past 13 years, making sense of the diverse range of statistics which we churn out for labour force, employment situation and labour market reports. We don’t just churn out numbers for the sake of it. We make sure that the numbers which we put out are useful, and help the people out there in their work. In fact, we derive trends in the sort of data requested for by members of the public. For instance, HR practitioners would want to know figures on recruitment and resignation rates for benchmarking.

Through such interaction, we realised that individuals and companies would find it immensely useful if they could have labour market statistical information at their fingertips. This was the genesis of our interactive labour market statistical information website launched in July 2013.

How the new interactive labour market statistical information website came into being

Our desire to put out a comprehensive interactive labour market statistical information website saw us spending many hours researching to find interesting ways to present statistics via new multimedia platforms since 2009. We gleaned insights from international statistical agencies. We also approached vendors, even those based overseas, to pick their brains. In 2011, we appointed vendors and engaged an external consultant to carry out an extensive round of face-to-face usability tests and focus group discussions with various user groups, such as human resources professionals, business owners, analysts and data users. 

Snippets of the team in action

Here’s what they wanted to see on our new website: 

Making it simple!

What do we do to satisfy all the needs of our users? Conceptualising the new website was going to be no mean feat. 

We have to decide what goes into our website. We debated the best way to present dynamic charts, and design database structures to support our benchmarking modules. A considerable amount of time was spent designing and prototyping the website interface, trying to make it as user-centric and friendly as possible. Feedback received during user acceptance tests helped to further refine and develop a faceted search function which helped to improve search results from an exhaustive list of statistical publications and reports. 

Light at end of the tunnel

In May 2013, the test site was finally up. We invited about 200 organisations to test it before one final round of refinements. Subsequently, with great excitement, the site went live in July 2013. Nothing was more satisfying, as the website was the fruit of the labour of all my colleagues from MRSD!

In a short span of four months, our site received over 240,000 page views. Employers and employees now have an extensive suite of online tools to benchmark their organisation’s performance against national or industry norms. We are especially proud of the AutoBenchmark module which we developed specially for MOM’s survey respondents.

Why, you may ask? AutoBenchmark is one of the world’s first modules in enabling companies which respond to national surveys to have their results automatically populated to facilitate their benchmarking. With three easy steps (as seen below), employers can, for instance, find out how their organisation fared in providing work-life arrangements compared to similar-sized companies in the same sector. Likewise, employees can now find out their salary benchmarked against our wage database. I am sure most of us would want this piece of information!

The new site also features interactive charts and a dynamic dashboard. There is also an “Understanding Statistics” module, which helps users understand manpower statistics through video-clips, FAQs, quizzes and articles. 

Enthused yet? Check out our new website at to learn about manpower statistics and the benchmarking tools!
Steve Lee
Manpower Research and Statistics Officer

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