One in five employees in Asia Pacific intends to switch to a new employer in the next 12 months, according to a new survey by PwC. That should be a wake-up call for companies across the region, many of whom have already been grappling with a skill and talent shortage for years.
Nearly 18,000 employees participated in the "Asia Pacific Workforce Hopes & Fears Survey 2022". Only 57% of those surveyed said they were satisfied with their job. In the next 12 months, around one-third plan to ask for a raise and the same proportion say they are likely to ask for a promotion.
"People play a significant part in shaping the long-term strategic success of businesses. As the world continues to be disrupted, employees across Asia Pacific are rethinking their lifestyle, and work is topping the list," said Raymund Chao, chairman of PwC Asia Pacific and China.
"The dynamics of the workforce are changing at a rate not seen before, with demand for different ways of working continuing to evolve. To address skills shortages, businesses need to invest in upskilling their people for the longer term in ways that are mutually beneficial.
"Employees are also looking to their employers for more support in ethical decision-making and minimising their impact on the environment. By bringing the best of people and technology together, we can continue to build trust and deliver sustained outcomes."
Chanchai Chaiprasit, CEO of PwC Thailand
MONEY AND MEANING
With employees more empowered than ever, simply offering more pay is not the answer. In the current tight labour market, some sectors are offering hiring premiums of 20-40%. This is not sustainable. Sixty-eight percent of workers want to be rewarded fairly, but they also value other things.
Sixty-four percent want work that provides a sense of fulfilment and meaning, and 62% want to be able to bring their authentic selves to work. These priorities are the same regardless of whether employees work remotely, hybrid or always in-person.
When it comes to retaining talent, the survey shows that there is room for significant improvement for Asia Pacific-based organisations:
♦Only 36% of employees surveyed say their employer supports workers with their physical and mental well-being.
♦66% feel they lack support for ethical decision making.
♦73% feel they lack support for minimising their company's impact on the environment.
The survey found that less than half (45%) of employers are upskilling their workers. Too often, companies see upskilling as a short-term fix for plugging immediate skills gaps rather than a way to develop a strategically competitive workforce. One-third say that their territory lacks people with the skills to do the job.
Leaders need to think about upskilling in a more holistic way. This means considering the needs of both employees and the company over the longer term, as well as the changes in the wider market.
"While all stakeholders are important, the voices of employees are particularly critical," said Norah Seddon, people and organisation leader with PwC Asia Pacific and Australia. "A company cannot be truly successful over the long term if its core purpose is not aligned with the values of the people that work for it.
"An organisation's stance is becoming increasingly important for attracting and retaining top talent. People are voting with their heads and hearts, and ultimately, their feet."
In the current tight labour market, some sectors are offering hiring premiums of 20-40%.
HYBRID HERE TO STAY
The survey also found that hybrid work is here to stay. Sixty-eight percent of respondents think their employer will expect hybrid working in the next 12 months, and this is the preference for around the same proportion of employees. Across the region, only 10% of workers would prefer to work exclusively in person at their workplace 12 months from now.
Although the majority of employees prefer hybrid work, companies need to be careful not to overlook those who work completely remotely or completely in person. The 38% of workers who can't work remotely are less likely to find their job fulfilling. At the other end of the scale, employees who work remotely all the time are twice as concerned about being passed over for a promotion and are more likely to change jobs.
In the Thai workplace, supporting diversity and inclusion is among the top agenda items for which employees demand their employer's support. according to Chanchai Chaiprasit, CEO of PwC Thailand. Indeed, 43% of those surveyed want their employers to accept differing opinions to create a work environment where everyone collaborates effectively.
According to the report, which surveyed 1,000 Thai employees, 73% also expect their employers to offer a hybrid working model in the next 12 months, and only 4% prefer in-person work at the office.
"Many organisations are gradually calling their employees back to the office as the Covid-19 situation begins to subside," said Mr Chanchai.
"But business leaders must also consider which working model suits their business and employees' preferences in shaping their jobs. Today we must accept that employees want and expect their employers to implement workplace flexibility in the office.
"Lack of flexibility will cause employees to challenge the organisation's policies and eventually lead to talent leaving the company, making this a sensitive issue."
No matter which workplace model an organisation chooses, employees must be involved in sharing their opinions before new company policies are adopted, said Mr Chanchai. To further facilitate the new normal of work from anywhere, investment in new technologies will remain critical for organisations in the future, he added.