The Towers Watson Global Workforce Study 2010 claimed to be the most comprehensive study available on employee mindset following the recession. Conducted online from November 2009 to January 2010, the study polled 20,000 full-time employees from 22 countries around the world. In Malaysia, about 600 employees in mid-size to large organisations were polled. The research builds upon several previous Global Workforce Studies to provide companies with actionable insights around employee behaviours, opinions and engagement levels.
Below is derived from their press release on 15 April 2010...
Malaysian employees rank job security and stability as their most important employment criteria. Nonetheless, they remain highly mobile as only 11% plan to remain in their current organization, compared to 42% globally, according to the results of new research from global professional services company Towers Watson.
The Towers Watson Global Workforce Study – a biennial survey of employee attitudes and workplace trends – also finds that while engagement levels remain unaffected by the recession, organizations should continue to focus on career advancement and leadership as the twin factors of engaging and retaining their workforce.
"More than half of the Malaysian workforce prefers to work for 3 or more organizations throughout their career. (While they desire stability and security in their job, they may be inclined to leave the organization if better job stability and security, career advancement and effective leadership are available.) The challenge then lies in employers retaining their top talent and keeping them engaged," said Vivek Nath, Managing Director for Towers Watson Malaysia.
Career advancement opportunities to retain top talent in the workplace
In order to attract and retain employees, organizations have to focus on creating career advancement prospects in the work environment. Among the factors that respondents believe will help advance their careers are:
- having a supportive mentor, aside from their manager;
- having an immediate manager to provide them with the opportunity to develop their skills;
- having an immediate manager to provide clear goals for the team; and
- having an immediate manager to assign tasks that are well suited to their skills and abilities.
At the same time, Malaysian employees are well aware that it is ultimately the merits of their performance that will determine how far they would go in their careers. 73% agree that the results delivered in their job far trumps who they know.
Based on this belief, Malaysian employees also prefer to be assessed and rewarded on their work performance. 68% say that they prefer a pay-for-performance approach based on their individual performance, rather than on the organisation’s performance and 44% would like to receive rewards based primarily on their most recent job performance, rather than their track record of success or tenure with the organisation.
"We find that Malaysian employees are eager to carve out their career roadmap and are willing to put in significant effort to ensure that. However, organisations need to provide opportunities for employees to advance, which in our study shows employees defining advancement as a preference for acquiring new skills, achieving higher status and increasing compensation; to effectively retain their employees," continued Nath.
Engagement levels in Malaysia remain strong, compared to global levels
In addition to career development, effective leadership also plays an important role in engaging and retaining employees. The study shows that the economic downturn did not adversely affect the level of employee engagement in Malaysia. In fact, most Malaysian companies recognise the importance of employee engagement and have moved forward to close the engagement gap. 28% of the Malaysian workforce is engaged, compared to a global figure of 21%.
The higher engagement level is an encouraging indication as engaged employees are less likely to leave their jobs, with the results showing that 41% of engaged employees in Malaysia has no plans to leave, compared to 27% of the overall Malaysia results.
"The impact of the recession on the business should not be used as an excuse to deviate focus from engagement, as there is a risk of talent leaving the organisation once the recession completely lifts, which could affect business performance," Nath continued.
Wanted – Leaders with strong interpersonal sensitivities
Whilst career development is important in engaging and retaining Malaysian employees, leadership also plays a key role in communicating the organization’s values, goals and objectives. Besides demonstrating leadership skills on business and financial management, Malaysian employees need senior leaders to care about their well being, encourage the development of talent in the organization and to be trustworthy.
Only 56% of the respondents believe that their senior leaders have a sincere interest in their satisfaction and well-being, and only 60% agree that their senior leaders currently demonstrate trustworthiness.
In organizations where leaders are perceived to be effective, only 14% of employees are seeking new employment. On the contrary, when leaders are seen to be ineffective, 28% of employees are either actively looking for another job or have already made plans to leave their current job.
Taking these findings into account, Malaysian organizations could be optimistic of the year ahead, due to the relatively high engagement level in the workforce, which impacts the sustainability of business outcomes.
"However, as the economy continues to recover, it is imperative for businesses to focus on engaging their talent and address the gap on career advancement and leadership in order to ensure higher productivity and profitability of their organizations" commented Nath.
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