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50% of Malaysia CEOs are most concerned about people issues

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In order to aid Malaysia’s efforts in becoming an advanced, high income nation by 2020, half of CEOs in the country recognise the need for greater emphasis on employee engagement and talent management.

As a critical enabler in advancing business and the country’s competitive sustainability, employee engagement has taken an upward course in Malaysia over the past 10 years.

According to Aon Hewitt’s Best Employers Malaysia study of more than 25,000 CEOs and HR directors, how organisations harness “people issues” will chart the course of future engagement scores – a barometer of the country’s organisational health.

Over the past 12 years, Aon Hewitt has found the overall engagement scores in Malaysia rose from 53% in 2003 to 59% in 2011, before dipping to 53% again in 2012 – but getting back up to 56% last year.

CEOs who responded to the survey said that other than people issues, their biggest concerns on Malaysia’s talent front are:

  • The availability of critical skills
  • The ability to build an adequate leadership pipeline
  • The ability to retain talent
  • The capability of current leaders

Dr. Jens Ballendowitsch, talent & engagement practice leader at Aon Hewitt Malaysia, said top leaders today recognise these issues, and more importantly, their impact on business results if they are not addressed.

“People issues have a far reaching effect on the working population in the long run, impacting employee engagement. Our research demonstrates that employee engagement is the glue that bonds people to positive business results.”

However, Jeremy Andrulis, the newly-appointed CEO of Aon Hewitt in Southeast Asia, warned that Malaysia’s up and down engagement trend is somewhat fragile.

“Registering this on a bigger context, Malaysian scores have shown to fall below the Asia Pacific market scores for three out of the last five Best Employers studies,” he said.

“Actions taken today by leaders of organisations can make or break the engagement trend in Malaysia. Organisations that have focused on engagement need to step up  their efforts to stay on course, and others need to start looking seriously into the activities that can motivate their employees to stay and strive in their jobs, as well as how to attract the best talent from inside or outside Malaysia.”

The survey – which identified ‘best employers’ as those which had high employee engagement, a compelling employer brand, effective leadership and a high performance culture – also outlined the most notable benefits of being a best employer in Malaysia:

  • Senior leaders at best employers scored 20% above market in “their capability to provide a clear direction for the future” and in “in making their employees feel like the most valued assets”.
  • Best employers were able to fill 90% of their job openings, 25% of which were internal movements. This is compared with 77% and 20% respectively at market level.
  • Best employers have been more deliberate in enabling employee development beyond the classroom setting via “experiential learning” – rotational assignments (100% of best employers vs 51% participant average), special projects (88% of best employers vs. 55% participant average) and interactions with senior executives (88% of best employers vs. 49% participant average), leading to overall employee satisfaction with growth opportunities.

Lee Ji-Hao, project manager of Best Employers Malaysia 2015 added: “While engaging Generation Y is a key focus for organisations today, best employers have an edge, with a 21% higher engagement score for Generation Y compared to the market.

“Best employers are reaping benefits from their focus on targeted programs designed to align with various demographic groups.”

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