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4 C&B trends we learnt at Employee Benefits Asia 2019, Malaysia



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Among the various learning points derived from the on-site conversations among HR leaders at Employee Benefits Asia 2019, Malaysia, Jerene Ang sums up four of them here.

– with inputs from Aditi Sharma Kalra

The region’s biggest conference dedicated to compensation & benefits strategy, Employee Benefits Asia 2019, Malaysia, was held at Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral on 7 May and 8 May 2019.

This year’s conference was produced by Low Yee Ching and saw close to 150 attendees sharing industry ideas through a series of case-studies, keynote presentations, fishbowl panels, and solution room. [check out some of the event photos]

We summed up our top four learning from the on-site conversations:

#1 Employees want transparency, agility and autonomy to be engaged

Organisations today can look at transparency as the number one success factor. This is done by ensuring each level of the organisation is kept in the loop when it comes to the challenges being faced. “It’s almost like crowdsourcing – everyone from the intern to the C-suite is involved in coming up with a solution,” said one speaker.

Not only does this approach ensure agility by getting everyone aligned and moving as a team, but it also helps to develop autonomy, wherein people develop an owner-mindset instead of a manager mindset.

This loop is then completed with a feedback-driven culture. The management needs to receive multi-level feedback, with which they need to engage and react to. Feedback surveys at every level of the organisation help to assess and execute changes accordingly.

#2 The physical office space is an overlooked component of the package

In today’s world where organisations are getting leaner, employers expect a lot from employees – from creative ideas, teamwork, and loyalty, to professionalism, a positive attitude, and problem solving. So, as HR leaders, how do you make sure you are creating the right environment for your employees to meet these expectations?

Here are some things you should consider when redesigning your workplace:

Comfort and convenience: This involves things like ergonomics, lighting, noise levels, and climate. Given how long employees spend at work, ensuring that the chairs are comfortable, the lighting is right and the office is neither too cold nor too hot.

A factor that is often overlooked is the noise level. With many organisations moving away from carpets which are difficult to maintain, the ensuing noise can annoy people even subconsciously.

Create a homely feel: Colours matter. When you design your office, have bright colours as it helps people concentrate. Encourage employees to personalise their space, as it helps to motivate them and reminds them to think about why they are there.

Health and safety: Keep technical equipment, especially those which give off more radiation, as covered or distant as possible. The same applies for overall cleanliness, wherein we have to make sure old or spoiled food in the office refrigerator is removed as soon as possible.

#3 Show flexibility and understanding to achieve work-life integration 

Do you live to work or work to live? While it depends on how work is defined, one thing is for certain – your work cannot be equal to your life, it is just a subset of it.

In that line, how should organisations help employees balance their work and personal commitments? Rather, in today’s context where we are all so connected with the help of tech, how should we help staff integrate and blend work and life?

Firstly, support from the employees’ family as well as employer is crucial.

As HR leaders, there may not be much you can do when it comes to family support; but when it comes to support an employer can give, policies such as flexible work arrangements and flexi-work structures make a huge difference.

In order for such policies to be successful, it is crucial to ensure systems are in place to support the structure. For instance, will there be someone to cover the employee who is on leave?

Apart from that, a question often posed by managers is: “how do I know if employees at home are working?” The answer to that is outcome-based KPIs and performance management.

It is also crucial to ensure line managers and business leaders are able to understand that employees need to come to work as their whole selves, and lead by example by taking up such flexible work arrangements themselves should they need it.

#4 What to consider when designing rewards for the gig economy

The gig economy is starting to take shape in to Asia. While the varying definitions of what constitutes a ‘gig worker’ has contributed to conflicting numbers on the size of this economy, one thing is clear – it is sizeable enough for organisations to look into it as a source of talent.

From an organisational point of view, there are three key reasons why the gig economy is thriving:

  • Technology: In this digital world, the job role and location are decoupled, allowing people to work from all over the world and organisations to hire the talent they need without having to filter by location.
  • Cost: In certain roles, tapping on the gig economy is more financially viable. In addition, contingent workers don’t currently get full benefits which works in favour of companies.
  • Access to expertise: In certain areas, a high-level of expertise is more readily available in the gig economy.

According to McKinsey, gig talent are classified into four key groups:

  • Free agents: People who enter the gig economy of their own choice to earn their primary income.
  • Casual earners: People who earn their supplemental income from the gig economy – and they do so by choice.
  • Reluctants: Those who prefer traditional jobs, but derive their primary income from the gig economy.
  • Financially strapped: People who take on various part-time jobs because they need supplemental income.

As a HR leader, when looking at rewards for gig talent, it is important to not only consider the entire spectrum of gig talent, but also have an idea of the broader culture you want to build in the organisation as well as the ratio of full-time workers versus contractors or part-time workers.

Apart from that, strong individual personalisation of rewards is also a trend to keep abreast of when it comes to designing an attractive compensation package for gig workers.


This knowledge was shared at the Human Resources’ conference, Employee Benefits Asia 2019, Malaysia. To know more and attend such events, please visit: http://www.humanresourcesonline.net/events/.


Presenters, panelists, and moderators at Employee Benefits Asia 2019, Malaysia included:

  • Shah Rouf, Chief Executive Officer, Group Corporate Solutions, AIA Group
  • Sainthan Satyamoorthy, Chief Corporate Solutions Officer, AIA Malaysia
  • Niyati Goel, Head Rewards CoE, AirAsia Group
  • Mohamed Parrish Ersalle Bin Abdul Hameed, Chief Human Resource Officer, Bank Pertanian Malaysia Berhad (Agrobank)
  • Che Zulhaimee Bin Abdullah, General Manager, Human Capital & Administration, Composite Technology Research Malaysia
  • Dr Caren Andexer, Medical Director, COSSB
  • Andy Muniandy, Director, Regional Human Resources, South East Asia Countries & Asia Emerging Market Group, Dell Technologies
  • Azlin Latiff, Vice President, Culture & Engagement, Desaru Coast
  • Abel Saw, Director, Group Compensation & Benefits and Mobility, DKSH Group
  • Ahmad Fadzlee Sharani, Head, Talent Pipeline and Development, Domino’s Pizza Malaysia & Singapore
  • Sayantan Das ,Managing Director, foodpanda Malaysia
  • Zenas Kok, Senior Manager, Human Capital Service,Fraser & Neave Holdings
  • Max Thum, Head of Revenue, HealthMetrics
  • Michelle Chiou, Vice President, Human Resources ,IDS Medical Systems (idsMED)
  • Adam Abdullah, Independent HR Consultant
  • Dr Edward Chan, Principal Consultant Psychologist PsyCorp, Centre for Corporate Psychology,International Psychology Centre
  • Dalia Alkatiri, Head Of Human Resources,VP, Lazada eLogistics
  • Dr Abu Hasan Samad, Chief Medical Officer, RAPID Central Medical Facility, Malaysia Operations Division, Parkway Pantai
  • Chay Pooi Wan, Head of HR & Admin, Salcon
  • Shu Tze Yuh, Head, HR Strategy & Engagement, Samsung Electronics
  • Shazmi Ali, Country HR Director, Shell
  • Lim Chee Gay, Chief Human Resources Officer, Teledirect Telecommerce
  • Zulkefli Abdul Rahman, General Manager, Remuneration and Performance, Telekom Malaysia
  • Andrew Ng, Regional HR Director, UBM
  • Lai Tak Ming, Executive Director Country Head, Human Resources, United Overseas Bank (Malaysia)

Human Resources would like to thank all its sponsors and partners who have supported this event:

Platinum sponsor

  • AIA Group

Gold sponsors

  • COSSB
  • HealthMetrics
  • International Psychology Centre
  • Sanofi Pasteur

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