The pandemic and its impact on how companies work has resulted in tectonic shifts in the business world. On the employee front, companies across the board are witnessing what has become known as the ‘great resignation’. A term coined to highlight the mass resignations across labour markets in the US over last year, many have begun noticing similar trends in other parts of the world.
ASEAN remains no exception to this trend. Companies in the region have begun noticing a flurry of resignations, with many facing higher than expected attrition rates. A recent pulse survey done by Mercer with companies across different Southeast Asian countries highlighted the concern that companies are facing a higher turnover rate. It is most acute at the mid-career level when compared to past years.
Decoding resignations in ASEAN
A Microsoft study recently announced the Singapore finding from its first annual Work Trend Index study revealing a major shift in employee preference. Over 49 percent of the Singapore workforce is considering leaving their employer this year. In a parallel study done by Mercer, with over 150 companies across 13 industries in Singapore, over 69 percent of the respondents reported an increase in turnover in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period last year. A similar challenge exists in countries like Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia are facing a difficult challenge in retaining their key employees. The Mercer report notes that while attrition levels remain high, the situation is most acute when it comes to mid-level individuals. ‘With more mid-career professionals leaving their jobs, employers are also finding it more difficult to recruit them, primarily because of the inability to find the right skills at the right price,’ notes the report.
According to a Mercer report, the reasons behind this high attrition that companies across ASEAN are facing are multifaceted. In addition to dissatisfaction with pay and benefits and limited career advancement, many have highlighted the lack of flexible work culture as key motivators to resign. While being a great place to work is beneficial for many, the burnout being felt by the shift to remote work and the need for an organizational culture that supports individual needs have become imperative. Over 76 percent of employees surveyed for the Mercer report reported that a strong organizational culture eventually played a large role in them not resigning. Factors such as improving workplace productivity, giving employers opportunities to grow and develop, providing impactful well-being and mental health support have all proved critical in retaining talent.
Role of Skill building
While addressing key employee concerns remains a cornerstone of how companies hope to retain talent, skill-building can ensure that critical skills are distributed across the company. In a future where both hard technical skills and soft skills are to become necessary, skill-building ensures employability and make companies future-proof to disruptions. It is even more relevant in a region like ASEAN. Before the pandemic hit, many looked ahead at the economic growth of ASEAN countries. World Economic Forum estimated a GDP increase of $1 trillion for the region between 2020 and 2030.
While earlier companies could rely on formal education and on-the-job training to supply the hard and soft skills, the growing mismatch of skills today has meant a more concerted effort by governments and private players is required. With the great resignation accentuating the access to skilled talent, companies turn to learning platforms that can help them bridge the gap. To ensure talent productivity remains high, companies are focusing on the right combination of soft and hard skills to future proof their modes of operation.
As countries in Southeast Asia today transition into knowledge-based economies, talent and skills become imperative. The timely use of digital tech will be valuable in working towards ensuring that all forms of skills development both in terms of employee skills and entrepreneurial development. This rising trend has already been noted in countries like the Philippines and Indonesia where a recent ADB report notes that great assimilation of technology, particularly digital training, has occurred. The report further states that over half the surveyed training institutions ran digital programs for improving digital literacy and skills and that over 70 percent of them used online self-learning tools.
Additionally, skill-building today has become a key priority for ASEAN members going into the new decade. It has remained a cornerstone of multiple new digitization projects launched in the region. Go Digital ASEAN and ASEAN Digital Skills Vision 2020 are recent examples where skilling has been brought to the forefront of the conversation.
With companies in one of the fastest-growing regions in the world looking to have people with the right skills with them, skilling provides a crucial safeguard against the disruptions posed by economic trends like the great resignation. On-time learning interventions like those provided by Disprz with a proven track record of improving both hard and soft skills become valuable partners to companies that require to take a proactive learning platform that can address their skill-building needs.