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HR Briefing: Retaining talent in the time of COVID

There seems to be a trend amongst workers looking to switch employers.

The onset of the pandemic left workers with the short end of the stick as companies are forced to retrench in grappling to survive the crisis. But as some parts of Asia recover, it seems that workers are becoming more open to switching employers even as uncertainties of the crisis linger.

In Singapore, a study has found that employees’ confidence in their company’s chances in the post-pandemic era has dwindled.

In the report, The State of Employee Experience 2021, EngageRocket found that only 64% of workers remain confident about the future of their organisation. This is a drop from 81% in the previous year.

The waning confidence is also more common amongst the younger population with only 56% of Gen Z and millennials, or those aged between 20 and 29, having an optimistic perception of their organisation’s future. This is against boomers, or those aged over 60, with 72% expressing confidence in their companies.

Across all age demographics, an average of 73% expects that they will be staying in the same firm in the next 12 months; but the younger employees are found to be the “most eager” to switch.

The survey found that only 67% of millennials see themselves in their current organization in the next 12 months, against 78% amongst boomers.

With these, EngageRocket recommended that companies employ strategic communications with workers to address the lack of confidence.

Companies also need to look into the key drivers to keep employees motivated and boost morale, particularly amongst Gen Zs and millennials as the possibility of disengagement from this age group remains high.

In a separate report, Talent Trends 2021, Michael Page found that 56% of those who were employed in Singapore anticipate that they will be looking for new job opportunities in 2021; whilst 36% are passively open to a new job.

The report cited amongst those in the non-managerial position, the most common reason for leaving is their pursuit for a higher salary or better benefits; whilst those in the middle management and director level are more likely to be after growth opportunities elsewhere.

To better retain employees, the Michael Page report recommended that companies provide frequent opportunities for learning and professional development, draw a clear path for career growth as well as offer non-monetary benefits with intent to provide a work-life balance.

A similar trend amongst workers considering to switch employers amidst the pandemic can also be seen amongst Hong Kongers.

In Hays’ 2021 Asia Salary Guide, it found that 36% of Hong Kong professionals are actively looking for a job. Around 44%, meanwhile, are passively open to new opportunities.

The top reason for switching careers, Hong Kongers cited, is a better salary package. This is followed by their intent to seek new challenges and the absence of a career progression in their current position.

Beyond this, Hays Greater China Managing Director Simon Lance said in the new normal, companies should bring more focus on the well-being of their workers given the toll the pandemic has taken on mental health.

“In a region-wide trend, employee wellbeing is at the forefront of defining meaningful work, a rising sentiment that will likely be the hallmark of a workplace of the future,” Lance said in an interview.

In Hays’ DNA of the Future Workplace report, it was found that only 38% of Hong Kong professionals feel their organisation values their well-being, which is the lowest in Asia.

Meanwhile, 82% of workers have said that purpose and meaning are key in motivating their performance, which workplaces in Hong Kong could address through increased efforts.

“With plenty of transformation still on the horizon, a workplace of the future will prioritise employee wellbeing by ensuring they have compassionate and engaged leaders in place,” Lance also said.

Moreover, employers could also improve initiatives in promoting the upskilling of their workforce in general as well as in nurturing individual skills.

The report found that only 37% of workers said their workplaces provide opportunities for upskilling. This is much lower than the 85% who find upskilling either as important or very important for their professional development.

“A workplace of the future will realise this win-win equation, and will both prioritise and encourage upskilling for its employees,” Lance said.

He also said employers should bridge the gap between employees who value opportunities to utilise skills unique to them and employees that currently experience it.

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