The Difference Between An Employer and An Employee

The Difference Between An Employer and An Employee

Have you ever had such thoughts? 

“Why are we closing another branch?! Do I still have a job?” 
“Why did we take on this project? I am already drowning at work; can’t they hire someone else to do it?” 
“What are the working hours in Singapore? Maximum hours allowed to work per day in Singapore? What are the employee’s benefits?” 

Or what about these? 

“Six months of cashflow, that’s all I have. How am I going to get us through this? Sales is such a challenge nowadays. What else can we do?” 
“The team is stretched working on the new project. How can we get more help when we’ve already invested a chunk into it?” 
“Tomorrow’s pitch is not going to be easy, but I need to do it well – our business is counting on it.” 

Which set of thoughts resonates with you?

If it’s the first set of three, you are probably an employee or someone at the lower end of the chain of command in your place of employment. If it is the second set of three, you are likely to be an employer or someone in management, with a team to lead

The aim of this article is to share in broad strokes the main differences between the roles of an employer and an employee knowing that their relationship is mutually dependent on each other to ensure business success.  

So, what is an employer and what is an employee?  

An employer is defined by a person or organisation that hires and pays people to work for them, whilst an employee is a person who is paid to work or perform a specific function for somebody or an organisation.  

Or simply put, if you pay someone to work, you are the employer. If you are being paid to work, you are an employee. 

How do these two roles differ?


Employee vs Employer  


Goals & Purpose 

Employer – visionary, very big-picture-oriented. They think long-term and often times, tend to be risk-takers. Otherwise, why venture into running or managing a business at all? They are purpose-driven, focused on how individuals can come together to fulfill that goal, and constantly thinking about business growth and continuity.   

Employee – short-termed and perhaps more self-oriented. They focus on their performance during their time of employment, doing what they are paid to do. They are task-oriented and pay more attention to career milestones that will enable them to move up the ranks for better pay or prospects. 

Roles & Responsibilities 

You may always find more information about the responsibilities of an employer vis-à-vis that of an employee under the WSH Act: responsibilities of stakeholders that highlights safety and welfare, however, we would like to share a few additional points of our own. 

Employer’s Responsibilities 

Provide a conducive work environment that clearly maps out a career path. 
Pay equitably and timely for the work that is performed.
Exercise fair and proper treatment of employees through clearly listed company guidelines and policies.
Manage operations and company funds ethically and responsibly to ensure business continuity.

Employee’s Responsibilities 

Follow the terms and conditions stipulated in the employment contract faithfully and diligently. 
Respect and follow the company’s guidelines and policies. 
Work cooperatively and respectfully and perform tasks properly and ethically. 
Do not misuse any confidential information acquired during the period of employment. 


It is clear that an employer’s and an employee’s relationship are complementary, and they each have a role to play, but what is it that sets them apart? Why do some of us stay as employees while some of us go on to become top-level executives or even entrepreneurs with employees of our own to manage? 

The answer is the mindset.

Generally, speaking, employers want to grow their businesses, increase profits and productivity in a sensible manner. They want a safe and conducive environment where their employees can perform, will be happy in, and stay loyal too. They are focused on business and people growth.

These are heavy responsibilities that they take on, so to be in this position requires one to think big picture and plan leap years ahead without losing sight of the present.

They are constantly focused on generating value for their stakeholders – they are probably thinking of the “how-to” even when they are asleep! They must strike a balance between spending and saving, making sure there is enough cash flow to sustain business operations, yet have the ability to invest in the right opportunities without compromising the company’s profitability or staff’s wellbeing.

Seems like an enviable position to be in but ask any self-respecting employer and they will probably share with you about the countless, sleepless nights they have had worrying about their company problems and the weight of the type of decisions they have had to make; for example, how to increase sales and profits, which product to invest in, or deal with turnover or operational issues that could impact business. It is certainly not a position anyone can be in. 

Employees, on the other hand, are looking for job security; they want to be paid fairly and work in a place that is safe and conducive, with decent career prospects. 

They tend to put themselves first, whether they are achieving their career milestones within the one, two, or three-year horizon, or whether they are fairly compensated.

While there are some employees who think about whether their work is valued in the company and therefore may tend to take on additional responsibilities, there are also some who prefer to draw a line because they think the work is beyond their pay grade. Either way, they are perfectly acceptable thoughts, as long as the employees get their work done and are happy doing so. 

These are some of the differences between an employer and an employee we thought of. What other ones can you think of?

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