Digital transformation yadda-yadda: What do your employees really think?
By Benjamin Cher June 15, 2016
- 65% of employees in APAC are satisfied, not so much in Malaysia and Singapore
- Satisfied workers likely to leave, unhappy ones likely to stay … wait, what?!
WHILE digital transformation consumes organisations across the world, how have workplaces responded to the new era of the digital workforce? Have they cracked the code of keeping employees happy, and have they solved the issues around talent retention?
Well, according to a study conducted by research firm IDC, commissioned by cloud-based human resource (HR) management company Workday Inc, the results in Asia Pacific are mixed: 30% of employees are ‘very satisfied’ and 35% ‘moderately satisfied.’
The study surveyed over 500 people of different generations across seven countries, including Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore.
Malaysia and Singapore reported the lowest job satisfaction among the seven countries – despite this, Singaporeans are the second least likely to change their job.
Conversely, the Philippines reported one of the largest proportions of ‘very engaged’ and satisfied employees, but also the second highest proportion of employees likely to change their job.
This paradox flies in the face of HR convention, which is why Workday president of Europe and Middle East & Asia Pacific and Japan, Chano Fernandez, cautions companies to turn things around before employees decide to leave.
“If I am an employer in Singapore, I need to worry about identifying the unhappy employees and trying to make them happy,” he tells Digital News Asia (DNA) in Singapore.
“I can’t be complacent and say they are not likely to make a move … if a percentage of high performers are leaving, then that is an issue.
“Retention is a big issue – when you have to get someone new in, it will take time for them to ramp up their productivity,” he adds.
Driving productivity and satisfaction
When it comes to factors driving productivity among employees, the most cited is improved collaboration (39%), followed by better-defined goals and responsibilities (37%), and more flexibility (36%).
‘Improved collaboration’ may sound contradictory in this digital age, when colleagues around the world can be reached with a single click.
However, the collaboration issue might not be on a global level but with the colleague next to you, argues Fernandez (pic).
“On the one hand, 40% of companies are still doing paperwork processes within the region; that is difficult to collaborate on even with simple tasks or processes.
“When you think about collaboration in areas like finance and planning, are we providing the right tools to collaborate in terms of making it easier for them to work?
“It has a lot to do with how we enable employees to collaborate,” he adds.
Factors such as improved collaboration, more flexibility, better processes, better tools to do my job, and better use of information in the organisation, are seemingly factors that can be easily solved by technology.
But this goes back to the root of the matter: The ‘people’ element.
“We talk about digital strategy or transformation, but it is all about people – the ones making the digital transformation in your company are people,” says Fernandez.
“How you interact with and engage your people will determine that.
“Some companies still need to transform their processes … to move into the new digital era and empower their people.
“If you look at productivity as a big issue, many factors will be covered if you have the right environment and the right solutions to support all these initiatives,” he adds.
As for driving employee satisfaction, better pay (16%) emerged as a top factor in Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore.
Solving the retention woes
In today’s age of analytics and algorithms, metrics have become the default way of understanding employees (click infographic on the right to view in full).
Unfortunately, 27% of organisations have metrics that are focused mainly on employee output, with another 27% having a mix of metrics that looks at employee output as well as efficiency innovation and other areas.
Such metrics do not give a holistic view of an employee’s performance, and technology can solve the HR department’s problem in getting the necessary data and insights it needs, according to Fernandez.
“HR is just trying to be a better strategic partner, and it was hard previously because it was lacking the data and insights to do that,” he says.
“The discussion back then when HR met the C-suite, was just to get the data to do a report; today, the conversation has changed – the data is there, in real-time, and the CEO (chief executive officer) can ask smarter questions,” he adds.
The need to understand individual employee needs is becoming ever more critical with today’s talent war.
“When CEOs are talking about transforming a company, they are talking about transforming people, culture, and the way you do things – but it still starts with the people,” says Fernandez.
“When you, as a top manager, want to have an understanding of who your top performing employees are, when you want to create an impact – that’s where technology comes in,” he adds.
Not changing is not an option either. Companies which do not transform will have trouble attracting talents, let alone the best talents.
“Companies are going to be forced to change – if not, they will not attract the talent pool they need,” says Fernandez.
“53% of Fortune 500 companies from 2000 [corrected] do not exist today – there is no longer a choice; you have to transform and adapt,” he adds.
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