TAFEP Hero 2023 Oct
Talent priorities in 2023: How employees in Malaysia & Singapore are future-proofing their careers

Talent priorities in 2023: How employees in Malaysia & Singapore are future-proofing their careers

Compared to 2021, more employees surveyed are keen on internal mobility, with 48% in Malaysia and 39% in Singapore saying so.

Among more than 1,000 employees surveyed in Malaysia, about nine in 10 (92%) are career cushioning – i.e., seeking to future-proof their careers should they want to, or be forced to, leave their current roles.

According to Employment Hero's Talent Insights Report 2023, Malaysia has the most number of 'career cushioners', followed by Singapore (84%), New Zealand (70%), Australia (66%), and the UK (63%). 

Highlights on the report's findings for Malaysia and Singapore are as follows:

Malaysia

Why are employees seeking to cushion their careers?

Per the findings, one factor could be that 45% of employees surveyed feel their salaries are not catching up to the rate of inflation. In that vein, employees are taking up the following as avenues to future-proof their careers:

  • Trying to expand their professional skill set (33%),
  • Trying to learn how to use new tech tools (31%),
  • Being open to changing industries (28%), and
  • Looking for freelance/contract opportunities alongside their main employment (26%).

On the other hand, 60% in Malaysia say they still feel secure in their jobs, and 44% feel optimistic about their business growth in 2023. 

Job movements: Are employees looking outward, or inward?

Interestingly, the desire to move away from Malaysia for other job opportunities has decreased, according to the report. In particular, close to six in 10 (59%) employees said they would like to take up a role overseas, down from 72% in 2021. 

Instead, more employees are looking to move internally for their next role, with this number jumping from 35% to 48% over the last two years, it was further shared. 

Although the trend of lateral move ambitions is positive for employers, they should also be aware of those looking further afield. 46% of respondents still want their next role to be in a new organisation. The top reason for seeking a new role in a different organisation is poor company culture (43%), followed by a dislike for their boss (38%) and lack of appreciation or recognition (34%).

Reasons for seeking new roles/jobs include:

  • Poor company culture (43%),
  • Dislike for their boss (38%), and
  • Lack of appreciation or recognition (34%).
  • International ambitions are less prevalent:

Looking at lateral movements, the report cautioned: while the trend of lateral move ambitions is positive for employers, they should also be aware of those looking further afield, as 46% of respondents still want their next role to be in a new organisation. Reasons for seeking new roles/jobs include:

  • Poor company culture (43%),
  • Dislike for their boss (38%), and
  • Lack of appreciation or recognition (34%).

What are the current employee expectations in Malaysia?

Salary remains the key draw when it comes to attracting and retaining talent in Malaysia, according to the report. Specifically, four in 10 (43%) employees surveyed said they would stay in their current role if they received a salary increase; while about five in 10 (53%) said they would accept a new role in a different organisation if they were offered a salary increase.

At the same time, expectations around salaries have also shifted:

  • While 14% of employees surveyed in 2021 would be happy to move roles for a salary that is on par with their current level, just 8% would do so now.
  • One in five (25%) is looking for a 10% increase in salaries, and three in 10 (30%) are looking for a 20% increase.

In fact, while flexibility and recognition are attractive, employees are still prioritising monetary factors in their decision-making.

Singapore

As part of the report, more than 1,000 employees were surveyed in Singapore, and out of these, 51% said they feel secure in their current roles – falling behind Malaysia (60%), the UK (69%), and Australia & New Zealand (71% respectively). 

This sense of insecurity is likely due to a "growing sense of anxiety around the economy." In fact, as many as 32% of employees feel their company will either reduce headcount, lose customers, or scale back operations.

Given this lack of job security, it was further found that close to half (49%) of the employees surveyed are looking outside of their organisations for their next opportunity. Of these, 20% are looking to move now, while the remaining are considering job changes within the next six months.

Why else, could Singapore employees be job-seeking?

In line with the above, the survey also revealed that 30% of the respondents who have recently started a new job (under a year) are already looking for their next opportunity. Reasons cited for this include a "fast-growing" dislike for their roles (34%), up from 5% in 2021), poor company culture (33%). and feeling nervous about their company's future (31)%.

Concurrently, the desire to move away from Singapore for job opportunities has declined, with only 49% of Singaporeans stating they’d like to take a role overseas, a drop from 55% in 2021.

Are employees keen to move internally?

The answer is yes, for about 39% of those surveyed – up from 27% in 2021. Per the findings, these employees are either looking for a promotion or a lateral move, and a majority (96%) are taking steps to make it happen. These steps include:

  • Taking on new responsibilities (45%)
  • Planning to have discussions with their manager/employer in the near future (23%)
  • Undertaking further training, self-funded (22%)
  • Undertaking further training, paid for by the employer (18%)
  • Anticipating a company restructuring (17%)
  • Currently in discussions with their manager/employer (13%)
  • Being part of a mentorship programme (11%)

What are the current employee expectations in Singapore?

Despite greater instability in the economy, employees continue to seek the same rate of pay increases for a new role, according to the report. In particular, most (36%) are seeking a 20% pay increase for their next role, 29% are looking for a 10% increase, and 10% would accept a salary on par with their current role for a better opportunity.

In a noteworthy finding, even with job insecurity being high amongst employees, only 4% suggested that they would not mind taking a pay decrease for more job security.

Taking these into account, monetary factors do remain a top reason employees would move, in terms of a salary increase (53%). Such an increase was also seen as a top way to retain employees, with 43% of the respondents citing so. This figure, however, has dipped from 2021 (54%).

On the non-monetary front, flexibility continues to be a top factor in recruitment and retention – with 37% of employees saying they would feel compelled to accept an offer with another organisation if they were offered flexible working options, in terms of hours and location. This was followed by a 'strong career path/future promotions' in their next role, with 28% citing this as a factor to consider a role in a new organisation.

At a glance: How Malaysia's findings compare with Singapore's 

Viewing Malaysia and Singapore's findings together, the report noted the following similarities/differences in priorities, job security, and more:

  • Career cushioning:
    • Malaysia: 92%
    • Singapore: 84%
  • Job security:
    • 60% in Malaysia feel secure
    • 51% in Singapore feel secure
  • Considering a role overseas:
    • 59% in Malaysia
    • 49% in Singapore
  • Top motivators for job-seeking:
    • Malaysia:
      • Poor company culture
      • Disliking the boss
      • Lack of appreciation/recognition
    • Singapore:
      • Disliking their job
      • Poor company culture
      • Nervousness about the future of the company
  • Feeling that their salaries are not catching up with inflation:
    • Malaysia: 45%
    • Singapore: 52%

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Photo: Shutterstock

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