After a two-point drop last year, employee engagement in Malaysia rose by four points to 63%, according to a new report from Aon, a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions. While overall employee engagement score for Malaysia is higher than key Asia Pacific economies such as Australia (60%) and Singapore (59%), it lags behind India (71%) and China (69%). Malaysia also scored lower than neighbouring Indonesia (76%), Philippines (71%), and Thailand (64%).

According to Aon research, improving engagement pays dividends. A five-point increase in employee engagement is linked to a three-point increase in revenue growth in the subsequent year.

‘Work-Life Balance’ a Top Engagement Driver in Malaysia
The Aon study finds that ‘Work-Life Balance’ and ‘Career Development’ top the list of engagement drivers in Malaysia. With technological advances and a connected work environment, the lines between work and personal lives have blurred, demonstrating the significance of a flexible working culture. In addition, Malaysian employees seek organisations that are ready to invest in their careers and professional development.

Top 5 Engagement Opportunities in Malaysia

1.     Work-Life Balance

2.     Career Development

3.     Diversity and Inclusion

4.     Rewards and Recognition

5.     Employee Value Proposition

Millennials Pose a Challenge
With rapid digitisation and competition from start-ups for millennial talent, engaging the millennial workforce is the need of the hour for Malaysian companies. Only 46% of millennials feel that they have someone in their organisation who provides them with valuable guidance and counselling about their career. At the same time, only 57% of millennials feel that future career opportunities in their organisation look good.

However, there is optimism around inclusivity in the workforce. Two-thirds of millennials feel that they have a work environment that is accepting of diverse backgrounds and ways of thinking.

Prashant Chadha, Managing Director, Malaysia & Philippines, Talent, Rewards & Performance, Aon, says: “Economists predict a stronger economy for Malaysia in 2018, which means the war for top talent will continue to escalate. Malaysian companies need to invest in “continuous listening” to be in sync with the evolving expectations of their workforce and act on feedback quickly to transform employee experience. At the same time, they must attract top talent who are “wired for engagement” by using sophisticated assessment tools.”

Vernon Goh, Engagement Practice Leader, Malaysia, Talent, Reward & Performance, Aon, says: “In Malaysia, the increase in engagement levels is a result of the continuing efforts of best-in-class organisations in creating a holistic employee experience that provides opportunities and flexibility to thrive now and in the future. However, increasing engagement is a shared responsibility–senior leadership must encourage their team members to own their engagement levels, by creating an environment where employees are empowered to develop new skills, chart their career journeys, and maximise their potential.”