44% of respondents in Malaysia said that their skills have become more relevant during the pandemic. By extension of their improved skills relevancy, 51% of respondents got promoted during the pandemic. However, of those who got promoted, 27% of respondents said that they did not receive a pay raise.
A temporary fix to workforce retention
Ever since the COVID-19 outbreak, many employees have taken it upon themselves to learn how to use digital tools to help them work more effectively from home. This includes using project management dashboards, time management tools and even video conferencing to replace in-person meetings. By embracing new technologies, employees have become more digital-savvy and productive at work.
Employers want to retain these self-taught employees, as they display traits of a good worker who is able to work independently and flexibly in times of crisis and change. However, at the same time, many employers are still facing revenue woes due to COVID-19 measures.
For example, sales professionals at manufacturing firms are able to continue selling their products by sending samples through couriers and conducting virtual sales pitches to interested buyers. However, the manufacturing processing team may not be able to keep up with these new orders because they are forced to reduce their operating capacity due to stringent social distancing measures.
This would create a backlog in which companies are unable to earn 100% of the revenue until all their goods have been delivered, even when prices have increased due to product shortages. This is exactly what we are seeing in the semiconductor industry now.
A case of backlogs and unearned revenue mean that companies may not have the financial ability to increase the wages of their employees who are doing everything they can to stay employed. Yet, employers want to recognise the hard work of their employees who had also chosen to stay with the company during one of the most difficult times.
To make good of the situation with limited resources, employers may offer deserving employees a title promotion with the promise of a salary increase within a set time frame or a bigger bonus toward the end of the year.
Organisations recognise that this is just a temporary fix to bigger problems and that their valued employees will likely leave for another employer if they are unable to keep their promises to revise the salary.
For most employees, now is the time to leave for greener pastures
The Workmonitor Survey Report data revealed that “The Great Resignation” wave will likely sweep throughout Malaysia. 38.6% of respondents reported that they have switched employers in the last 6 months, an 8.3% increase from the previous 6 months.
After staying put with their employers over the past two years to avoid a poor job market, many people are starting to seek new and better prospects, especially since companies are starting to hire actively again.
As for the factors driving their career choices, 51% of respondents said that they value career growth opportunities, 37% of respondents want to gain more long-term marketable skills and 30% of respondents want to work for a fast-growing company.
The survey indicated that job seekers have an earnest desire to learn at an innovative company. Another survey conducted by Randstad Malaysia found that 31% of ICT talent want to work with unicorns and 20% of respondents want to work with a start-up company.
Job seekers who have in-demand knowledge and skill sets will find it much easier to secure new employment in this post-COVID era, as employers’ expectations have similarly increased.
Malaysian businesses continue to struggle to find skilled talent
Even though the relevancy of skills amongst the Malaysian workforce may have increased, employers are being even more selective with whom they choose to hire.
Many organisations are facing hiring challenges due to the mismatch between the company’s digital growth ambitions and the shortage of qualified talent to fulfil those goals. Even as the workforce has become increasingly well-educated and more people are re-entering the job market, many employers have said that the job applicants lack the specific expertise to bridge the skills gap.
Companies don’t just want to hire someone who knows how to set up video conferencing calls or understands the different functions of a particular software. Employers are seeking talent who can also think creatively and develop new solutions to resolve important business challenges.
For example, employees in different functional areas such as accounting, human resources and marketing are increasingly expected to leverage technology to increase work efficiencies or use data analytics to make business-critical decisions.
We are also seeing more employers use various scenarios to test the job applicant’s ability to navigate difficult situations during the interview process. Instead of asking candidates to give examples of how they had applied their skills in their previous employment, interviewers are testing candidates to see how they would resolve a hypothetical situation.
For instance, an events manager who has experience in trade shows might be asked about the type of digital tools they would use to organise a hybrid event from start to end, as well as the potential challenges the business should prepare for.
It is hence necessary for workers to have a continuous learning mindset, and constantly put themselves in challenging and uncomfortable situations - so that they can gain new knowledge and skills.
Malaysian respondents recognise the need to upskill and want employers to help facilitate their career growth and development.
The good news is that there is a general awareness amongst Malaysians to upskill to be more agile and capable. 89% of respondents said that the changes in the job market that have occurred or are anticipated to come have made them realise that they need more training and development to stay relevant.
What they may have learned in upskilling courses and programmes are frameworks and processes of what they should do. For example, what type of hardware and software are needed to start a podcast. However, they need to have real-life opportunities to do it to learn how to overcome new challenges that they may face, such as software compatibility with the company’s operating systems.
Some employers are open to the idea of hiring a high potential candidate and enrol them on a comprehensive training and onboarding programme to close the skills gap and integrate them into the company culture.
Managers can create new opportunities for their employees to learn on the job. This could be taking a lead on a new project or completing a new task. By working on different projects and tasks that are different from their day-to-day, employees can get the opportunity to further develop their skills. Managers could also set stretch goals for their employees to motivate them to upskill and be better at what they do.
Make sure you reward your employees fairly
Like employers, many workers in Malaysia have overcome a lot of challenges in the past few years. Whether they have taken it upon themselves to upskill or have sought your support to do so, make sure to reward them fairly if they are able to demonstrate that they have improved.
If you have promised to adjust your staff’s wages this year in tandem with the recovering economy, make sure you are rewarding them fairly and competitively enough to retain your most valued talent.
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