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What nearly 18,000 workers across Asia Pacific think about work today

Asia Pacific Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey 2022: Time for a rethink?

Hopes and Fears

In the wake of COVID-19, employees across Asia Pacific are rethinking their lives, and work is topping the list. Our latest survey of nearly 18,000 workers across Asia Pacific indicates the Great Resignation is set to continue. Talent is on the move to a degree not seen before. Thousands of expats have left the region and many locals have returned home. Millions of workers have quit or changed jobs. Employees say they want more meaningful work, a better deal around fair pay, and to be able to bring their authentic selves to work. But are their leaders listening?

Hopes and Fears

A snapshot of key Asia Pacific findings

  • Only 57% of employees in Asia Pacific are satisfied with their job.
  • One-third plan to ask for a raise in the next 12 months and one-third plan to ask for a promotion.
  • One in five intend to switch to a new employer. 
  • Less than half (45%) of all employees say their company is upskilling its workers, suggesting significant room for improvement.
  • One-third say that their territory lacks people with the skills to do their job.
  • Two-thirds feel they lack support for making ethical decision making.
  • Employees expect organisations to be transparent on critical issues.
  • Hybrid work is here to stay.

PwC’s latest Global Workforce Hopes & Fears Survey shows that the balance of power between workers and their bosses is shifting. Like their global peers, Asia Pacific employees feel confident and are ready to test the market. Nearly 18,000 Asia Pacific-based employees participated in our Hopes & Fears Survey 2022, and their message is clear - don’t take us for granted. In the next 12 months, around one-third of survey respondents plan to ask for a raise and the same proportion say they are likely to ask for a promotion. One in five intend to switch to a new employer. These results should be a wakeup call for companies across the region, many of whom have already been grappling with a skill and talent shortage for years. 

Companies in Asia Pacific face an additional set of challenges. The fundamentals that underpinned the region’s dramatic growth and prosperity over the past three decades are not sufficient to carry the region through this era of continuous disruption. Technology and trade are transforming traditional value chains and regionalising new growth opportunities. Supply chains are shifting focus towards regional markets, requiring companies to invest in new skills and expertise. Jobs in Asia Pacific are changing – fast.

But there is an upside. 

This new and rapidly evolving workforce environment offers leaders a once-in-a-generation chance to totally rethink conventional approaches to attracting, retaining and managing talent.

Chapter 2

Explore our key findings

Specialisation and skills empower workers

Employees with a specialisation are in high demand in Asia Pacific – and they know it. Those who say their job requires specialist training are significantly more likely to ask for a raise and a promotion compared to their peers. Specialisation empowers workers by giving them more confidence and bargaining power.

Specialised training empowers workers

% likely to take the following actions with their employers in the next 12 months1

  • Job doesn’t require specialised training
  • Job requires specialist training
Ask for a raise
19%
44%
Ask for a promotion
17%
41%
Recommend your employer as a place to work
21%
43%

Having in-demand skills is another way employees feel empowered. Like specialist workers, those who think their skills are scarce are also more likely to ask for a raise and a promotion. Skilled workers are at a distinct advantage in Asia Pacific, where the skills shortage is particularly acute.

Companies are investing in their people—but not enough

According to our survey, less than half (45%) are upskilling their workers, suggesting significant room for improvement. Too often, companies see upskilling as a short-term fix for plugging immediate skills gaps rather than a way to develop a strategically competitive workforce. Whatever companies are doing now around skills, it’s not enough. In Asia Pacific, 42% are worried their employer will not teach them the technology skills they need.

Don’t forget well-being

The last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic have taken a significant toll on the physical and mental health of workforces around the world. Supporting worker well-being has become a priority for many companies. In Asia Pacific, it’s the third most popular strategy for addressing skills shortages. Yet, in absolute terms, it’s still relatively low - only 36% of employees say their employer supports workers with their physical and mental well-being.

Money matters, but so does meaning

Workers want to be rewarded fairly, but they also value other things. They want work that provides a sense of fulfilment and meaning, and they want to be able to bring their authentic selves to work. These priorities are the same regardless of whether employees work remotely, hybrid or always in-person. 

 

Meaning matters to employees

Most important factors when considering a change in work environment, % of respondents1

  • Impact
  • Meaning
  • Confidence/competence
  • Autonomy
I am fairly rewarded financially
68%
I find my job fulfilling
64%
I can truly be myself
62%
My team cares about my well-being
58%
I can choose how I do my work in a way that suits me
57%
My manager considers my viewpoint when making decisions
57%
I can be creative/innovative in my job
56%
The work I do has a significant impact on my team's performance
56%
I have a clear plan to advance my career with my current employer
55%
I can exceed what is expected of me in my job role
55%
I can choose when I work
50%
I can choose where I work
48%

Delivering on societal purpose

One of the most powerful ways to nurture meaning and fulfillment is by creating a clear link between what people do every day and societal purpose.  

For example, in relation to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) matters, a significant number of employees across Asia Pacific feel their company isn’t doing enough to help them navigate these critical issues. Two-thirds (66%) feel they lack support for making ethical decision making, and three-quarters (73%) say they lack support for minimising their company’s impact on the environment. Over 60% have no support when it comes to protecting company or customer data. 
 

Build trust through transparency 

If employees are able to feel authentic and their work is meaningful, then they need to be able to trust their company. But trust requires transparency, and our survey has revealed a stark transparency gap among Asia Pacific employees.

The importance employees place on employer transparency

  • % of respondents saying that transparency is extremely or very important in this area
  • % of respondents who are extremely or very confident their employer is transparent in this area
The organisation's record on protecting worker health and safety
62%
53%
The organisation’s impact on the economy (e.g., jobs, taxes, wages)
59%
51%
The organisation’s record on addressing diversity and inclusion in the workplace
52%
48%
The organisation’s impact on the natural environment (including climate change)
51%
47%

Hybrid work: it’s all about trust and empowerment

Across Asia Pacific, hybrid work is here to stay. Two-thirds of employees who can work remotely prefer hybrid work, and a similar proportion think their employer agrees. There is, however, significant variability across the region. Although the majority of employees prefer hybrid work, companies need to be careful not to overlook those who work fully remotely or fully in person.

Employee expectations for their current job roles 12 months from now

  • Remote
  • Hybrid
  • In-person

A new breed of leaders

Leaders will need to adapt and evolve - at speed - to meet rising employee expectations for fair pay, meaningful work, authenticity and trust in a hybrid world. We expect new leaders with new skill sets and mindsets to emerge. We also expect to see leaders challenge the basic ideas that have guided organisations for decades, such as traditional hierarchical structures and command-and-control approaches. Organisations that thrive in the future will select and nurture these leaders and invest in leadership training and development. Critically, they will also invest in developing leadership skills of middle managers, who will be critical in making hybrid and flexible arrangements work for individuals and teams.

Explore how employers can respond to the changing workforce
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Geographic profile

17,992 total responses across Asia Pacific


Demographic Profile

Gender



Organisation size

Type of work



Industry

Generation

Type of work

88%


work full time

Industry chart abbreviations

FS: Financial Services | EUR: Energy, Utilities & Resources | TMT: Technology, Media and Telecommunications | R&C: Retail & Consumer | Gov/PS: Government/Public sector
 

Asia Pacific Leadership

Raymund Chao

PwC Asia Pacific and China Chairman, PwC China

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Christopher Kelkar

PwC Asia Pacific Vice Chairman, Operations, PwC United States

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Sridharan Nair

PwC Asia Pacific Vice Chairman, Markets, PwC Malaysia

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Norah Seddon

PwC People & Organisation Asia Pacific Leader, Sydney, PwC Australia

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Norah Seddon

PwC People & Organisation Asia Pacific Leader, Sydney, PwC Australia

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Partner, Shanghai, PwC China

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People and Organisation Advisory Leader, PwC China

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Partner, PwC China

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Partner, PwC Japan

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