Thai work culture needs to change to avoid brain drain: PwC

Ploy Ten Kate Director, Marketing and Communications, PwC Thailand

Thai work culture needs to change to avoid brain drain: PwC

BANGKOK, 8 September 2021 – Thai businesses need to make the work culture more relevant or risk an acute talent shortage, according to PwC Thailand.

When employees start to look for new opportunities as the economy recovers, they will be more likely to leave if their organisation’s culture doesn’t match up with their needs, it said.

Dr Pirata Phakdeesattayaphong, a consulting partner for PwC Thailand, said that businesses need to prioritise recruitment and retention if they want to have an edge.

“COVID-19 has caused job losses and a higher unemployment rate, but as we come out of the pandemic we’re seeing more people wanting to change their jobs as they seek more flexibility and independence, even becoming their own boss. Most people, especially the younger generation, are looking for these attributes in a job,” Dr Pirata said.

“This will be a huge challenge for human resources departments. Not only do they need to speed up the change to a more unified organisational culture, but they also need to understand the values of employees at all levels so they can attract and retain talent,” she said.

Working from home during the pandemic may have also weakened the bond between colleagues and the organisation, making some employees feel disengaged. This may make it easier for them to decide to change jobs, she added.

Her views support the key findings of PwC’s 2021 Global Culture Survey report, which identified recruitment and retention as the cultural priority leaders most need to improve. 

While during COVID-19 some employees may be ‘sheltering’ in their jobs until the economy recovers, many are waiting for the right opportunity to leave because they feel their organisation’s culture no longer matches their own values, it said.

The survey, which canvassed the views of 3,200 workers worldwide, reveals that organisational culture has been a source of competitive advantage for businesses and a strategic priority for senior leaders. Yet, some organisations are losing touch with their workforce. This can have a negative effect on performance and talent retention.

Developing a more equitable and inclusive organisational culture

A resounding 88% of respondents surveyed said that a strong organisational culture gave their organisation the ability to change, while 81% said it was a competitive advantage.

“COVID-19, which has been going on for more than a year now, shows us that only organisations with a strong culture are able to adapt quickly to change. These organisations don’t have redundant processes or hierarchical work structures, and employees are more ready to cooperate with the organisation in changing the way they have to work,” Dr Pirata said.

“This gives these organisations a competitive edge. They can continue to grow their revenues while also boosting employee and customer satisfaction despite the crisis,” she said.

However, Dr Pirata added that many Thai organisations are hierarchical, which can slow down decision making and the ability to take decisive actions quickly. On top of that, a hierarchical culture that values seniority over talent can cause employee dissatisfaction when more junior employees’ opinions aren’t valued.

“Thai organisational culture still needs to adjust so that it’s more flexible and less hierarchical. It needs to cultivate a teamwork culture, while management must be open to opinions from employees at all levels, which includes learning from past mistakes,” she said.

Closing the diversity gap between senior management and other employees

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) has played an important role in both driving organisations’ performance and new innovations at an international level.

But the PwC survey reveals there is a gap in the way that DEI is viewed by different staff levels.

Three-quarters of senior management (71%) feel that they can be themselves at work, against just 52% of middle management and front-line workers. Similarly, 61% of senior executives believe their organisation encourages discussion on sensitive and uncomfortable topics, in contrast to just 42% of middle management and front-line workers.

“We can see there is a gap between leaders and employees when it comes to their attitudes towards diversity and inclusion issues.

“Leaders feel they act as role models to drive these values, but employees just don’t see things in the same way. So it’s crucial that organisations close this gap, making sure employees at all levels feel involved, receive equal opportunities and be treated fairly in the workplace,” she said.

Many leading organisations in Thailand have adopted the DEI concept to harness the potential of diversity to create long-term value for their organisation, Dr Pirata said.

What’s more important, however, is that executives and board members show sincere leadership that makes employees understand that they’re part of the organisation’s purpose and values. 

They should make sure there is two-way communication and coaches at the manager level and above to give advice and demonstrate behaviours that help build a truly inclusive organisational culture, she concluded.



  1. Global Culture Survey 2021, PwC

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Ploy Ten Kate

Ploy Ten Kate

Director, PwC Thailand

Tel: +66 (0) 2844 1000 Ext. 4713

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