87% of SME employees in Malaysia expect better support for career growth

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and Malaysian Movement Control Order (MCO) creating multiple challenges for both businesses and job seekers, SME employees remain adamant that their employers must do more to support their career progression, or risk them jumping ship.

This is according to Employment Hero’s 2021 Employment & Recruitment Trends for Malaysia SMEs report, based on an analysis of over 500 Malaysian respondents employed by SMEs (up to 200 employees). The survey was conducted in November 2020 and aimed to better understand what employees are looking for, and the different employment factors that will impact how SMEs in Malaysia hire and retain talent in 2021.

According to the report, more than half (58%) of those surveyed identified career growth as a top consideration when contemplating moving jobs in 2021 – while a large 87% said they expect better support in this area moving forward, as this is a key motivator for talent. Other top motivators include work-life balance (49%) and more rewards and recognition (31%).

With the changing work landscape and the increasing demands on employees to manage their time within the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, employees expect their employers to provide alternative arrangements. This is clearly reflected in how 69% of Gen Z and Millennials (25-34 year olds) in the SME workforce identify flexible working arrangements as very important, while 85% of Baby Boomers (aged 55+) care about flexible working arrangements post-COVID.

There is also increased awareness among younger employees of the psychological toll that the pandemic has taken on the workforce, as 51% of Gen Z and Millenials indicate they would like mental health support in 2021. To underpin this, the overall attitude surrounding work-life balance and flexible working arrangements has also undergone a change, with nearly half (49%) of respondents wanting employers to prioritise this.

Gen X (35-44 year olds) and Baby Boomers, who may typically be change resistant, indicated flexible work arrangement support as one of their top priorities (28% and 23% respectively), with 62% of Baby Boomers also placing home-based office support as a priority for 2021.

Overall, 52% of SME employees indicate a need for flexible working arrangements and 47% want additional financial support to improve their work-life balance. Because of the pandemic, and the swift changes that have taken place in the way SMEs work, employees are relying on their leaders from all levels to take action and set the tone for 2021.

“COVID-19 has changed the way both talent and employers approach the working world, and it’s clear certain priorities have shifted. Professional career growth has always been a key motivator for Malaysian talent, but it’s interesting to note from our survey that salary is not as high a priority moving into 2021, but rather overall support, recognition, and autonomy to choose the way they want to work and balance their responsibilities,” said Ben Thompson, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of Employment Hero. “Greater adoption of digital tools is one important way to better support employees at home, but moving into 2021 – where remote or blended working will ultimately continue – SMEs must revisit what proactive incentives and programmes they have in place that benefit the overall wellbeing of their workforce. With strong support from the government through programs such as PENJANA, SMEs are able to drive positive change in the way they support their employees,” he added.


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