SEA firms to focus on restructuring, re-skilling, reinventing business sustainably
11 Mar 2021
Financial impact and work-life disruption caused by the pandemic COVID-19 has spurred employers in Southeast Asia (SEA) to focus on defining future workforce needs by restructuring and active reskilling to future-ready their business and workforce, says Mercer’s 2021 Global Talent Trends study.
Also high on the priority list is reinventing business sustainably, as companies expand their view on the organisation’s responsibilities to communities, extending success metrics beyond shareholders to include the interests of the consumers, employees and the environment, said the study.
According to Mercer, a global consulting firm and technology-driven solutions provider, nearly half of the employers in SEA, namely, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines, are assessing longer-term organisational structures and workforce needs in 2021.
The study found that 82 per cent of companies in SEA are reexamining what benefits are most relevant to different employee persona groups, though more can be done to support employee’s financial education as only 27 per cent of the companies are planning to offer more this year.
As remote working becomes mainstream and new ways of working demand new skills, 63 per cent of SEA companies are seeking to focus on targeted workforce upskilling of critical talent pools; 59 per cent on reinventing flexibility for their workforce and 48 per cent on expanding their talent and learning eco-system.
While 63 per cent of firms are identifying new skills needed for their post-pandemic operations, just 11 per cent of human resources (HR) leaders are planning to move to pay-for-skills structures or reward skill acquisition.
“Companies across SEA recognise that adapting employees’ skills and roles to post-pandemic ways of working will be critical to building organisational resilience.
“However, while 63 per cent of HR leaders report that skill development will continue to be a focus in 2021, two in 10 plan to maintain their reskilling budgets at 2020 levels,” said Mercer’s Talent Strategy Lead for Malaysia, Natasha Yusof.
She emphasised that organisations need a clear view of existing skills within their talent ecosystems to determine which jobs include the skills and competencies that overlap with new jobs.
“This will help them create reskilling pathways and identify critical experiences employees need to move to new roles and opportunities smoothly,” she said.
Despite the financial impact of the pandemic, many employers stepped up in 2020 to protect jobs, where 63 per cent of SEA HR leaders reported that their company has continued or stepped up the pace towards an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) and multi-stakeholder business approach, with 32 per cent saying they will invest responsibly.
In considering how to better support their employees with new ways of working and at different life stages, nearly half of the companies are planning to improve analytics in psychological, mental and emotional well-being, significantly more than the global average of 31 per cent, the study revealed.
Additionally, the study also found that SEA companies are lagging when it comes to meeting the needs of older, experienced workers via flexible career pathways.
It said 66 per cent of SEA companies do not use or plan to look into investing in analytics to predict when older workers with critical skills are likely to retire, and only nine per cent allow for phased retirement.