As businesses chart their road to recovery post COVID-19, many are working hard to equip themselves with the tools and knowledge needed to successfully emerge from the pandemic. Leaders shoulder a heavy responsibility during these times. Companies are relying on their top leaders to fight fires on so many fronts; staying profitable through the pandemic, leading the charge to move into this new digital era, tackling an ever-growing talent crunch and keeping staff motivated and caring for their mental wellness.

As a leader, what should you be focusing your energy on first? Here are some of the top workforce trends in Asia that may help leaders to better navigate today’s market.

1. Building collaborative and effective teams

With remote work looking like it’s here to stay, organisations around the world are looking at ways to make sure their teams stay connected while they work remotely. Remaining collaborative as a virtual workforce will require companies to invest in technology and platforms that will help employees to remain productive.

According to a recent study, Singapore came in 9th in Asia Pacific regarding access to productivity tools. 47% of Singaporean respondents make use of 4-5 productivity tools (email, social media, collaboration tools, virtual meetings, etc) in their current positions (1). Leveraging on these platforms are only one part of the equation, but developing effective processes, communicating regularly and productively as well as setting clear goals and objectives are just as important. Ensuring that you put aside time for team bonding activities, even if you are working remotely, can be crucial to keeping staff engaged and motivated, which will encourage productivity and better communication between team members.

2. Engaging talent internationally

It has been forecasted that by the end of this year, remote workers will represent 32% of the global workforce, close to double the figure from 2019 (2). Being able to work remotely has opened a world of possibilities with regards to acquiring top talent, making it much easier for companies to engage people internationally. Building diverse teams made up of people around the world is essential to conquering the global markets of today, with everyone bringing fresh ideas, perspectives and experiences to the table. This is especially helpful for global organisations that could benefit from having someone on the ground who understands local markets and has a deep understanding about the challenges these new markets may present to your organisation.

Engaging talent internationally can bring many other benefits to your organisation such as cost savings, widening the talent pool, and nurturing creativity within your teams.

The presence of Contractor Management Organisations as well as legal Employer of Record (EOR) agencies who will take on talent sourcing, immigration compliance, payrolling and other related services has made engaging talent internationally even easier, for companies both large and small.

3. Addressing the skills gap

By 2025 there will be approximately 149 million new technology-oriented jobs globally across cybersecurity, privacy and trust, data analytics, and cloud and software development (3). It is not just tech companies that need tech talent now, businesses from every industry are aiming to shift every element of their business model online.

While the demand for tech talent continues to grow, the digital skills gap continues to get wider too. Nearly 90 percent of executives are facing skills gaps in their workforce or expect to within a few years (4). Countries like Singapore, one of the tech powerhouses of the SEA region, are battling a severe tech talent shortage across all verticals (5).

As a result, reskilling workers and restructuring organisations will also remain a priority for employers in South-East Asia, according to Mercer 2021 Global Talent Trend Study. 48% of employers across Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand said restructuring will help prepare the workforce for the future. 39% of employers said it would actively reskill its workers in 2021 (6).

Many organisations are currently encouraging their employees to learn new skills so that they can take on hybrid roles, moving away from single domain expertise. Employees that look to upgrade themselves and build up expertise in more than just one function will be extremely sought after, especially if their skillset include specialised technical expertise.

4. Need for agile and flexible leaders

Leadership is experiencing a shake-up – the tried and tested models are now being challenged. There is no “playbook” for overcoming the challenges that have arisen because of the pandemic, and many organisations are still working hard to chart their road to recovery and beyond. Leaders will need to be more agile and flexible on all fronts, whether it is coming up with solutions to tackle the pandemic, or when dealing with organisational structures and their employees.

More than 80% of workers in Singapore want to have the option to work remotely available to them, although 66% of them are also craving to spend more time with their teams, in-person. This is why Singapore leaders are taking this shift into consideration, with 62% of them stating that they were more likely to redesign the office to support hybrid work models (7).   In a time where a large portion of the workforce continues to work from home, it is crucial that leaders make it a priority to stay in touch with the needs and challenges of their workers, and act accordingly.

5. Making employee wellbeing a priority

With the end of the pandemic not in clear sight, many workers around the world are struggling to deal with the stressors of both their work and personal lives. Companies are beginning to understand and acknowledge the importance of taking care of the health and wellbeing of their employees if they want their workers to put their best foot forward.

The level of productivity shrouds an exhausted workforce, and this rings true especially in Asia. Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok emerged as the top three cities with the most overworked populations in the world in the Global Work-Life Balance Index 2021 (8).

As a result, more organisations are beginning to invest in workplace analytics, giving their leaders more insight into their teams and what their staff needs so that they can better support them and create an environment that allows them to reach their full potential. Giving employees regular breaks, dialling back on online meetings where possible, and using meeting sessions productively are just some of the ways that can help employees reenergise and avoid burnout.

Gearing your organisation up for the future

In today’s competitive climate, securing top talent is a priority for any organisation.  Enlisting the help of an experienced Workforce Solutions Organisation would allow you to leverage on their knowledge and expertise of navigating the muddy waters of regulation and compliance to get the best talent. They would also be able to help you seamlessly integrate workers into your workforce, while providing you with the option of flexibility and cost savings.

For more information about how your company can begin to address flexible working as well as talent attraction and retention policies, please contact Entity Solutions, a People2.0 Company today.


Research sources:
(1) Top Workforce Trends in Singapore
(2) Hiring Trends: The Outlook for Asia-Pacific
(3) Market outlook: digital transformation to drive tech hiring in 2021
(4) Companies are key to solving the digital skills gap
(5) Singapore needs foreign talent to fill its gaping technology jobs gaps
(6) Defining future workforce needs, upskilling and reinventing sustainably top of mind in 2021 for firms in Southeast Asia, says Mercer’s new study
(7) Microsoft Work Trend Index: 49 percent of Singapore workers are considering leaving their employer this year
(8) Cities with the Best Work-Life Balance 2021