With job markets opening up and talent priorities shifting, compensation, flexibility, and a strong employer brand are among some key ways HR and employers in the region can better attract the right talent today.
The past couple of years have seen job markets fluctuate, with job vacancies reaching all-time lows, and then moving to all-time highs across markets in the APAC region. And with this, have come new challenges and opportunities for organisations — be it in sourcing skills, offering the right perks to attract the right talent, and importantly, standing out against the competition.
In that vein, talent priorities today are vastly different from what they used to be — jobseekers are paying lesser attention to tangible benefits, but placing more importance on the intangible aspects. To address these, HR and employers are facing a pressing need to evolve their talent strategies in sourcing the best-fit talent today.
As a guide, PRO Unlimited's new July 2022 APAC Labor Market Report, focused on Malaysia, Singapore, India, the Philippines, and Australia, has unveiled three best practices employers and HR leaders could consider adopting in doing so:
#1 Assemble a strong compensation package
The need for real-time, current market rate intelligence is at an all-time high due to the volatility of the market and the competition for talent. In other words, providing candidates with strong remuneration, benefits, and unique perks is now of even greater importance.
Per the report, some examples of perks that could set a company apart from its competition include:
- sign-on bonuses,
- private healthcare,
- gym memberships,
- wellness programmes, and
- strong training and development plans.
#2 Provide workplace flexibility
Flexible work arrangements are, no doubt, top-of-mind for employees today, with many even preferring the option over a four-day workweek.
As such, instead of frowning upon it, more companies in the region are moving to adopt it as a perk not just in their employer branding efforts, but as a talent attraction effort too. Additionally, the rise of remote work also means leaders can now cast a wider net for talent, including cost-effective markets and more talent-rich locations.
#3 Nurture a strong brand
Today, workers across APAC are more acutely aware than ever of company brands and values. They want to work for a company that has strong employee relations, one that respects their need for work-life balance, as well as opportunities for development and policies that align with their values.
Critically, statements made in interviews or on company websites must be backed up in the workplace.
In Malaysia, the pandemic saw a significant impact on the workforce, with pay freezes and, in some cases pay reductions, of up to 40%, the report noted.
However, economic and wage prospects are positive for the coming year. As is a key theme across the APAC region, unemployment rates are approaching pre-pandemic normality, while job vacancies have increased:
- The 4.1% unemployment rate in February 2022 was just 0.9% higher than two years before.
- Open vacancies were up 111% over pre-pandemic levels as of October 2021, indicating that the local market has positive expectations for the future. However, local candidates are still not currently moving between businesses much, as the pandemic has made them more averse to making risky moves away from stable employment conditions.
Skills in demand
There is significant demand for IT skill sets across Malaysia, with data analysts and scientists, software developers, cybersecurity experts, and digital content and marketing specialists in particularly high demand.
Additionally, skills that appear to be emerging in the market are heavily related to the IT and digital space, such as roles in AI, cloud technologies, and e-commerce that extend to marketing and content creator profiles.
To further complicate sourcing for these high-demand roles, many small- and medium-sized businesses are facing challenges in the market in instances where they may struggle to match the salary offers of larger or multinational businesses.
While the impact of changes such as the increasing of the minimum salary threshold for Employment Pass holders, and the push for local wages to move upwards are yet to be seen, it’s plausible that it will further tighten the market for highly skilled workers.
It is hoped that as the pandemic subsides, some of these challenges will lessen. Additionally, upcoming changes to the S Pass quota will reduce the percentage of employees that can be engaged with S Passes in certain industries.
Skills in demand
According to the report, skills that are in especially high demand in Singapore include all IT-focused roles, such as software developers and engineers. Further, there has been an increase in businesses focusing on their digital presence, leading to a rise in hiring in the e-commerce space, with high-demand roles including product specialists, mobile developers, merchants operations, payments, and cybersecurity experts.
This presents challenges in both sourcing and retaining candidates and places a responsibility on employers to ensure they are understanding the wider market in detail and their brand proposition is attractive. This extends beyond the provision of competitive pay rates to include an additional suite of benefits, as well as displaying a strong company culture.
Early in the pandemic, India saw a jump in its unemployment rate, to a high of 23.5% in April 2020. While the situation is returning toward normality and the unemployment rate is "more or less at the same point it was before the pandemic", the abundance of candidates in certain areas means that salaries are not seeing significant improvement.
However, this is specific to certain industries and where skill sets are in high demand, opportunities are easy to find, and pay rates have increased, a trend which may well continue:
Skills in demand
At present, skills that are especially challenging to source include cloud infrastructure, cybersecurity, blockchain, data analytics, SAP, and Salesforce. Sourcing and placing candidates with niche skill sets can take up to three months. Skills that are growing in demand within India include those related to digital and e-commerce business, such as digital marketing and cybersecurity, and emerging technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.
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