Needs and expectations: What helps drive a more productive workforce?

Asia-Pacific organizations are facing intense competition for talent, and are looking for better ways to retain the best employees, rather than replacing and retraining which can be costly. Retention of the best employees — or those with the critical skill sets — is vital to achieving business growth and to build organizational competencies, which represent a competitive advantage.

However, today's multi-generational environment is a challenge for human resource organizations everywhere, according to an IDC Asia-Pacific White Paper commissioned by Workday. Titled "Focusing on the Employee Segment of One for Higher Engagement and Productivity," the report involved more than 1,400 employers and employees from 11 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

The study points to four different generations co-existing in the workplace, with employees in different groups having different needs and expectations — understanding what those are is critical to improve productivity. Also, by 2020, millennials will make up about 50% of the workforce, and by 2025, this figure is projected to stand at 75%.  

According to the study, work is no longer a place employees go to, but something they do. Pervasive mobile connectivity has enabled employees to be "always on," anywhere. This, in turn, has blurred the lines between work and personal life and impacted work-life harmony.

Increasing Productivity

Increasing productivity has become the No. 1 priority for Asia-Pacific organizations as they embark on their digital transformation journey. However, reaching such a goal requires metrics to be aligned to the evolving nature of work and the workplace, particularly as digital technologies change the way businesses are constructed, how they interact, and how they operate.

IDC Workday Study

Figure 1

The IDC study notes that organizations' goal is to make employees more engaged and loyal to drive higher productivity levels, as well as increase focus on retaining the top performing employees. However, understanding what makes employees more engaged needs to happen at the individual employee level — that is, moving beyond merely assessing employees' satisfaction, and focusing on understanding what is required at the individual level in context. Figure 1 (above) shows employees' motivations across the region.

Across Asia-Pacific, 35% of employees across the region are moderately satisfied and engaged at work; 30% are very satisfied. While overall satisfaction is high, 28% of employees in Asia-Pacific are very likely to switch jobs if an opportunity arises, and 27% are likely to do the same.

The countries with the most satisfied employees are the Philippines, followed by India and Australia. However, the countries with the highest job satisfaction also have, perhaps paradoxically, the least loyal employees. The highest proportion of employees likely to change jobs are from India (44 percent), followed by the Philippines (41 percent). Conversely, the lowest satisfaction levels are Malaysia and Singapore.  While their satisfaction is low, Singapore employees are also the second least likely to look for a change in their jobs.

The study also found that pay and rewards, followed by work enjoyment and work-life harmony are the top factors that managers need to consider for higher satisfaction in Asia-Pacific. But, while employee satisfaction is important, their commitment and engagement go beyond how they "feel" about their job. Engagement is demonstrated in their performance, and their effort and willingness that is put into their work, when it is strictly required or not.

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