Post-pandemic talent trends: What companies need to do to keep workers happy? 

Despite the reopening of economies across the Asia-Pacific region following the pandemic, it seems that some workers are still facing tough conditions from the fallout.

The Philippines, for example, had one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, with a long-standing average growth rate of 6.6%. When the pandemic hit, the economy fell into a five-quarter-long recession brought on by varying degrees of lockdowns or community quarantines.

The country is now emerging from the fog with the baggage of rising inflation, leading to depressed consumer spending that has affected a number of industries. Many have cut costs by skipping overtime wages, introducing shorter work weeks and laying off employees.

The workforce reaction to these events seems to be disgruntlement. Mercer’s latest labour market survey found higher than usual resignations among mid-career professionals (35% of employers reported this) and entry-level executives (25%).

A similar response was seen across the Asia-Pacific region in the survey conducted in July and August 2021, with 266 employers in Asia-Pacific, including 58 in the Philippines.

While there is a global trend of professionals re-evaluating their career goals during the pandemic that is resulting in more resignations, the reasons employees in Philippines cited for quitting during the COVID-19 crisis are the same as pre-pandemic times.

This indicates that their needs are not being met, with companies not responding accurately to requests nor helping employees cope with challenges posed by the pandemic.

Key takeaways from the survey

  1. Money matters
    More than half of the employers said salary (67%) and benefits (52%) were major reasons employees were leaving. This is unsurprising considering the double-whammy posed by rising inflation, which has pushed prices for food, clothing and electricity up; and the resulting steps employers took to cut labour costs. With less spending power, employees are seeking higher salaries elsewhere.
  2. Skills and progression matter too
    A lack of career advancement is another reason for resignations, cited by 41% of employers. Although this had always been an issue pre-pandemic, COVID-19’s impact has created a greater urgency for a better skilled workforce to help companies thrive in the new environment. Organisations that have not prepared their employees to confront the challenges will continue to see resignations.
  3. Company culture is equally important
    As with elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific, a company’s reputation for being a great place to work in and, in particular, its corporate culture – as 86% of employers indicated – greatly affects its ability to hire and retain workers. Paying close attention to issues like employees’ health and wellbeing, and offering flexible work could improve a company’s turnover record. 

The future of work is hybrid, health and happiness

As most of Asia-Pacific prepares to open up, companies in the region are reviewing return-to-worksite plans and what the future of work will be. In the Philippines, given its continuing localised lockdowns, this issue needs further thought.

For a start, the number one response from employers is to re-evaluate compensation and benefits offerings. In this regard, Mercer’s Pay Band Tool 2.0 can compare your company’s data versus the market and manage compensation analysis effectively, while Mercer's Total Remuneration Survey assists with compensation and workforce policy planning.

The other two top measures are providing more well-being and mental health support and implementing more flexible schedules such as hybrid or remote work, to help employees better cope with the COVID-19 crisis.

In fact, most employers (55%) intend to implement a hybrid work model where employees are expected in the office between one and four days a week.

However, post-pandemic return-to-work practices will require offices to be set up differently to cater to local regulations and different work structures. This means companies ought to introduce tools that can help employees manage the new working arrangements, and offer opportunities to build up new capabilities and skills.

This improvement to skills is an area that companies in Philippines need to pay closer attention to, as only 49% plan to upskill their talent.

The future of work is one where skills can make a difference in employee performance and retention, along with health and happiness in this age of hybrid work.    

Contact Mercer to find out how we can help you design a holistic workforce plan to attract and retain future-ready employees.

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