APAC companies are in a dilemma: most see the need to transition to new ways of working, but many are not ready to meet the associated challenges.
This conclusion came from the 2021 Employee Experience Survey by Willis Towers Watson, which surveyed 1,550 employers worldwide, with 440 from APAC.
After months of lockdown measures and remote working, it is no surprise that APAC employers need to shift their working model. In the survey, 88% said that enhancing the employee experience (EX) will be a top priority for the next three years. This was a massive jump from the pre-pandemic 52%.
Why? Employers see good EX as a crucial driver of engagement (79%), employee wellbeing (79%), productivity (79%), and the ability to attract and retain talent (79%).
Part of the reason was the actions many employers took to navigate the pandemic, including moving workers to a remote or hybrid work environment, making job cuts, restructuring, or cutting pay or benefits.
With increasing anxiety over job security and work distraction, 48% of employees reported a negative impact on EX.
“Whether it’s due to employer actions such as pay reductions and layoffs or because of virtual work and personal hardships for some, the pandemic exposed shortfalls in the employee experience at many organizations. Many employers are not equipped to deal with these challenges,” said Clare Muhiudeen, head of human capital & benefits, International, at Willis Towers Watson.
“Our study reveals that just over a quarter of organizations (28%) have no defined approach to the employee experience, with a further 36% only having a basic approach in place. Enhancing the employee experience has therefore become an imperative for organizations, and it’s one that will take time.”
With the pandemic still raging, APAC employers realize that they need to focus on EX. And they are focusing on three areas: a change in work model, prioritizing wellbeing, and aligning total rewards programs to diverse employee needs.
Over eight in 10 employers (81%) see the hybrid model as the solution for many job roles. Over three-fifths of employers (62%) felt flexible work arrangements could boost EX.
APAC employers are also showing unique trends compared to their global peers. For example, when asked to identify the areas needed to improve EX, they ranked enhancing learning and development (72%) and leadership competencies (71%) as more important than their global peers. Meanwhile, a significant proportion is also looking to address their EX needs with manager training (69%) and a focus on inclusion and diversity (60%).
While APAC employers focusing on EX is good news, they face significant challenges. Only 57% are flexible about where or when work gets done; 59% are in the process of reimagining careers in response to changes in the way work is accomplished; almost half (47%) are segmenting Total Rewards to account for a different workforce profile.
“As organizations look ahead to a post-pandemic era, their ability to move the needle on the employee experience will be critical. To succeed, they must start with a bold employee experience strategy that supports their business strategy and is based on a consistent model. Then, they can turn to execution – adapting programs and policies reflective of flexible work, paying employees fairly, enhancing benefit delivery and wellbeing programs, supporting workers in a more agile and flexible workspace, and aligning Total Rewards programs to meet the needs of a diverse workforce,” added Muhiudeen.
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