Busy days ahead for workers

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian employees expect their jobs to be more demanding with the increasing influence of digital technologies in the workplace and more bosses preferring to hire multi-skilled workers.

The latest survey by a global recruitment and human resource services firm showed that nine out of 10 Malaysian workers expected their jobs to be more challenging over the next five years.

According to the latest Randstad Workmonitor Report, greater workplace expectations were higher in Malaysia compared with respondents in Singapore (80%), Hong Kong (73%), Australia (73%) and New Zealand (82%).

The survey, based on 405 respondents, also found that 95% of the Malaysian workers were willing to develop their skills to meet the changes.

Randstad Malaysia director Jasmin Kaur said employers have increased the emphasis on education, experience, social and digital skills.

“With organisations becoming leaner, employees are now expected to be not only high performing, but to be able to put on several hats,” she said.

Jasmin said the figures were reflective of Malaysia’s aim to become a high-income nation by 2020.

Malaysian Employers Federation’s (MEF) executive director Shamsuddin Bardan concurred with the report’s findings

“Like it or not, this is the definite trend due to the demands of business,” he said, adding that even older employees had to adapt to the digital trend of being wired and contactable.

Jasmin said the survey also found that most of the respondents believed that their employers placed greater importance on digital skills than they did five years ago.

“With social media being a part of today’s business environment, being comfortable with using tools such as Twitter and LinkedIn could help an employee keep connected and abreast of what is happening in the industry.

“Different companies have different expectations of their workers. Employees who are client-facing may be expected to be on call outside of standard office hours to respond to clients as required,” she said.

Shamsuddin echoed similar views, saying that it was now a necessity for employees to be reachable anytime of the day, whether it was outside work hours on while they were on holiday.

However, he said employers recognised that there had to be a work-life balance for their staff, adding: “Being contactable is not the same thing as working 24/7.”

He said employers also knew that happy employees were more productive.

MTUC secretary-general Abdul Halim Mansor said the umbrella organisation for unions was against the culture of employees being at the beck and call of bosses beyond working hours.

He said the Malaysian Employment Act specified rest days which workers were entitled to.

“Notwithstanding the demands of the job, the rights of employees to get adequate rest should be respected,” he said.

Abdul Halim said such a working culture could have negative impacts on families and communities.

Company managers, who spoke to The Star, said the nature of a job and position would determine if an employee had to be on call.

“For those in management, there is no escape,” said the human resources manager of a multinational company in Kuala Lumpur

Another manager, who also declined to be named, said being on call 24 hours a day was already a norm.

“The company provides employees with smartphones so they can be reached anytime,” she said.

The survey, conducted between July 17 and Aug 5, also found that 77% of Malaysians were satisfied with their current employer compared with 56% in Singapore, 47% in Hong Kong and 44% in Japan.

Jasmin said a pleasant working environment, effective leadership and career development training were the reasons why Malaysian employees remained satisfied.

The quantitative study was conducted via an online questionnaire. The respondents were between 18 and 65-years old, working a minimum of 24 hours a week in a paid job.

Randstad issues its survey report four times a year.