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World of Work
How does Malaysia stack-up compared to the region?
By Karin Clarke

JAN 2012 | The human capital debate. With many economies slowing across the United States and Europe, Asia Pacific will be the engine room of global growth in the year ahead. Attracting new talent for the next phase of growth is the biggest human capital challenge across the region (26%). But it’s a more pressing concern for the faster growing nations. China (35%), Hong Kong (31%) and Malaysia (29%), where around a third of employers rate it as their number one challenge.

The productivity challenge. Most employers say filling critical vacancies is their biggest productivity concern, and more than half cite developing leadership skills for the next phase of growth as a key challenge.

While employers see talent attraction as high on the agenda, retention will also be a key issue in a year where talent mobility is expected to be a significant challenge.

As the fastest growing nation, China is feeling the impact more acutely, with a greater number of employers highlighting more productivity challenges than other nations. China’s phenomenal growth means it must fight on all fronts, from managing downtime and knowledge loss as a result of high employee turnover, through to filling the critical vacancies that turnover and business expansion create. At the same time, they must educate the next generation of leaders.

In Malaysia, employers top the list when it comes to a lack of specialist skills to drive innovation, as the nation transitions to a high-tech, knowledge-based economy.

Hiring intentions.
Almost two-thirds of employers (64%) surveyed across Asia Pacific say skills shortages are already present or expected to emerge in the next year. Just under half will increase headcount in the next 12 months, but this number jumps to 57% for China and 62% for Hong Kong. Singapore (53%) and Malaysia (44%) have slightly more modest intentions, while just over a third of employers plan to increase headcount in Australia and New Zealand.

Graduates, apprentices and trainees are in strongest demand in Malaysia, where employers are looking to build their talent pipeline and move towards the Government’s 2020 goal of being a high-income developed nation.

Talent attraction & employer branding.
Forty-four percent of employers across the region rate their ability to attract top talent as average or poor. Over a third of employers believe the main reason they are failing to attract top talent is due to uncompetitive salary – but is it? Convenient workplace location is very important to half of Australian employees, yet less than 15% of Chinese employees agree. Leadership and career development is the single most important benefit for Malaysian employees, but flexible work options are more important in New Zealand.

Mediums like social media are becoming more influential. Three quarters of employers in Asia Pacific now agree that social and professional networks should be part of any organisation’s strategy to attract talent with 77% of Malaysian employers agreeing. Despite the growing acceptance of social media across the region, less than a third of employers are actually using it to attract talent today.

The exception is Malaysia, where 42% of employers are already using social media as part of their attraction strategy.

Employee retention and satisfaction.
While employers see talent attraction as high on the agenda, retention will also be a key issue in a year where talent mobility is expected to be a significant challenge. Thirty percent of employers across the region expect to see an increase in employee turnover in the next 12 months and despite 66% of managers being satisfied or very happy in their role, around a quarter would consider another job for the opportunity to earn more money/benefits or to have better work/life balance.

The leadership agenda. Employers across the region agree developing leadership skills for the next phase of growth is a key productivity challenge, but there’s less consensus about what defines a successful leader. In more developed nations like Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong, more than half of employers believe the ability to motivate and inspire others is the single biggest attribute that defines a successful leader.

Yet, less than half of Malaysian and Singapore employers, and just a third of Chinese employers, agree, rating more traditional management skills, such as the ability to adapt to changing or competing business demands, and the ability to analyse and problem solve, as important attributes.

Karin Clarke

Karin Clarke has 20 years’ recruitment industry experience across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia. Since joining Randstad in 2000, Karin has held a number of senior management roles across the region. In 2009, Karin was appointed to spearhead Randstad’s Singapore and Malaysia operations.



HR Matters Magazine
Issue 17 | January 2012

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