Asia-Pacific companies face talent risk

by 06 Mar 2007

UP TO one half of all talented employees across the Asia Pacific region can be considered ‘at risk’ of leaving companies, according to recent research.

A survey of more than 3,000 employees classified as ‘top talent’ in 120 companies across Australia, China, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand found that many talented employees are either disillusioned or disengaged.

Although disillusioned employees continue to put in extra effort to help their company achieve its goals, they are unlikely to stay with the company in the long term. Disengaged employees are unlikely to support their organisation’s strategy, feel a sense of pride in their employer, work hard to ensure the organisation’s success or be committed to remaining with that company.

Thirty-three per cent of Australia’s most talented employees categorise themselves as either disillusioned or actively disengaged, with 74 per cent of this talent-at-risk group indicating that they would leave their organisation as soon as they receive an acceptable job offer.

In China, this figure stood at 61 per cent, compared to 69 per cent in Malaysia, 75 per cent in Thailand and 78 per cent in Singapore.

There were several findings of interest for Australian HR professionals, according to Hamish Deery, regional executive director of ISR Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, which conducted the research.

“In comparison with other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, Australian HR professionals and Australian organisations in general are doing a good job when it comes to talent management – Australian talent was found to be more highly engaged than the rest of the Australian working population,” he said.

However, when Australian talent is disengaged it is particularly critical of the leadership of its organisation, he said.

“This is more so than in other countries throughout the region, in that it will see this leadership as rigid, bureaucratic, risk-averse and so on, characteristics that inhibit innovation and the delivery of strategic objectives.”

The research findings indicate the need for Australian HR professionals to remain conscious of maintaining their comparatively high level of talented employee engagement by addressing all the issues that are of concern to this group, Deery added.

“In essence, Australian organisations need to provide an environment in which leadership is providing crystal clear direction and in which talented employees see that their own development is critical to the organisation and that their star is pinned to that of the business,” he said.

“Talented employees want to work for a ‘winner’so the organisation also needs to focus on building a strong brand and reputation in the market.”

The research also found Malaysia is home to the greatest proportion of talented employees who defined themselves as either disillusioned or actively disengaged, with 47 per cent of the country’s high-flying employees indicating that they are no longer committed to remaining with their employer.

Singapore produced the second highest proportion of disillusioned or actively disengaged employees, with 40 per cent of the country’s top talent being classified as talent-at-risk. Thirty-two per cent of Thailand’s top talent and 31 per cent of China’s most talented employees also fell into this category.

These figures reflect the massive economic growth the Asia-Pacific region has experienced in the past few years; employees generally, and top talent particularly, have the freedom to choose their employer and expect to work for companies that will nurture their talent and allow them to share in the organisation’s economic success, Deery said.

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