As the world of work undergoes a digital transformation, employers in Asia Pacific are grappling with challenges to talent attraction and retaining top talent, according to two major surveys conducted by Willis Towers Watson, a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company.
The Willis Towers Watson 2016 Global Talent Management and Rewards Survey, a study of more than 2,000 companies globally, including 695 from the Asia Pacific, shows labour market activity increasing.
Nearly half of organisations in Asia Pacific report that hiring has increased over the last year. This could be surprising in a year, where many businesses are remaining cautious and taking a wait-and-see approach regarding recent economic and political developments.
However, at the same time, rapid technology developments are deconstructing and dispersing work across a virtual workspace, and causing organisations to shift their focus to be more flexible and open to digital change. “Many of today’s most sought-after specialities, such as cloud computing and mobile app design, did not exist a decade ago,” said Maggy Fang, managing director, Talent and Rewards-Asia Pacific, Willis Towers Watson.
“This disruption is causing a skilled worker deficit in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields and a surplus of low-skilled workers in others, such as administration and manufacturing.”
As a result, employers in both mature and emerging economies in Asia Pacific are continuing to experience talent attraction and retention challenges. More than 60% of employers are experiencing difficulty attracting critical-skill employees (63%), top performers (73%) and high-potential employees (72%). Six in 10 reported challenges in retaining high-potential employees (69%), top performers (65%) and critical skill employees (58%).
Disconnect in employer and employee views
“As digitisation disrupts the workforce, it’s more crucial than ever for employers to understand the factors that successfully attract, retain and engage their top talent,” said Lesley Brown, Regional Practice Leader, Employee Insights— Asia Pacific, Willis Towers Watson.
“We know from our research that employees are looking to work for organisations that offer fair pay, career advancement opportunities and job security. While Asian employers generally understand these priorities, their views diverge from those of employees in a few key areas.”
Willis Towers Watson’s 2016 Global Workforce Study, a survey of 31,000 employees worldwide, including 12,868 from Asia Pacific, revealed some disconnects between employer and employee views: when it comes to attracting employees, Asian employers understand the importance of pay. However, they overstate the importance of reputation of the organisation, or their mission and values, while employees place more value on more tangible factors, such as physical work environment and health care benefits.
On the retention side, physical work environment continues to be ranked highly by employees both in Asia and globally, yet employers do not rank it at all. The importance of the physical work environment for retention likely reflects the growing diversification of office arrangements in many organisations, more collaborative work spaces and supporting technologies.
Understanding how to optimise employee work environments to provide a compelling experience is an emerging trend in the ongoing challenge to retain talent.
Employee Engagement in Asia Pacific
The 2016 Global Workforce Study findings show that just over one-third (39%) of employees in Asia Pacific are highly engaged. The survey identified supervision, which takes into account the effectiveness of immediate supervisors and managers, as the top driver of sustainable engagement, followed by communication, clear goals and objectives (these drivers vary by country).
Despite the fact that supervision is the top engagement factor in the region, only 65% of Asia Pacific employees said their immediate manager/supervisor treats them with respect. Furthermore, only 57% said their managers clearly communicate goals and assignments. Only 6 in 10 employees answered that their managers are effective at developing talent and leading change.
“In addition to attracting and retaining talented employees, employers need to focus on engaging employees in order to achieve better business results. Leadership, including the role played by supervisors, managers and senior executives, plays a critical role in driving engagement among their employees,” said Fang.