Tue, 27 Feb 2024


Back-to-office orders causing talent retention problems, says bosses’ group
Published on: Wednesday, December 06, 2023
By: FMT, Shahrul Shahabudin, Annabelle Lawrence
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Back-to-office orders causing talent retention problems, says bosses’ group
Many companies have asked their employees to return to the office after the lifting of restrictions imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic.
PETALING JAYA: Orders for employees to return to the office after years of remote working thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic have led to problems in talent retention for bosses, according to Malaysia’s umbrella organisation of private sector employers.

Shamsuddin Bardan, the executive director of the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF), said the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions had increased demand for on-site employment, causing a conflict between employee and employer desires, especially for the youth who prefer flexible working arrangements.

“The youngsters are restless and don’t want to stay in a particular place of employment for long, so they keep changing employers until they find one able to fulfil their desires on flexibility,” he said.

Speaking to FMT during MEF’s Industrial Relations Conference 2023, though, he said it was important for companies to retain this group of people.

“They are our future talents. If we are not able to retain youth looking for flexibility, it’ll create a void in talent development,” he said.

Shamsuddin said the sectors affected by talent retention problems were retail, hotel, restaurants, information and communications technology, private education, manufacturing and professional services.

He suggested that companies find ways to remove the trust deficit and meet employee demands, while employees prove that their performance levels will not be affected by such working arrangements.

Shamsuddin said that finding the balance between the demands of both sides was crucial to ensuring that the country’s productivity level remains competitive, adding that all working arrangements must lead towards better productivity and competitiveness.

He also stressed that job-hopping must be addressed to ensure that talents are retained and developed in an organisation.

Flexible working arrangements have become increasingly common in Malaysia and around the world, reflecting a paradigm shift in traditional work structures. These arrangements encompass various approaches such as remote work, flexible hours, and compressed work weeks.

There has also been a substantial rise in remote work, particularly accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic during which many countries announced lockdowns to slow down the spread of the virus.

According to Adobe’s 2021 Future of Time report, 44% of employees worldwide have some working flexibility, while 23% have full flexibility and 33% have none.

A senior manager of employer relations and equality who asked to be known as Edwin said his company had adapted well to flexible working arrangements and created more employee satisfaction without compromising productivity.

He also said that flexible work had made employees more productive, provided work-life balance, and reduced road fatalities by eliminating the need for travel to the office.

“We have adapted to it and it provides flexibility for employees to perform work productively,” Edwin told FMT.

He added that flexible working also benefits the employer, reducing overhead costs as operations can be done remotely, as well as the costs for transportation allowance borne by the company.

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