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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?
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.
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.
% likely to take the following actions with their employers in the next 12 months1
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.
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.
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.
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.
Most important factors when considering a change in work environment, % of respondents1
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.
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.
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.
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.
Recorded on Wednesday 10 August 2022
Nearly 18,000 workers across Asia Pacific participated in PwC’s 2022 Workforce Hopes & Fears Survey, and the results should be a wake-up call for employers across the region. Workers say they want more meaningful work, a better deal around fair pay, and to be able to bring their authentic selves to work. As Gen Z and Millennials represent more of the workforce, traditional models of leadership are no longer effective and the way we work needs to evolve.
How leaders respond to the changing dynamics of their workforces will play a significant part in shaping the long-term strategic success of their businesses.
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17,992 total responses across Asia Pacific
Type of work
Type of work
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
Lead Partner, Tax and Legal Services, Thailand, PwC Thailand
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