Navigating Asia-Pacific’s talent shortage

Despite the preference for flexi-work by employees, it is still not common for businesses to offer flexible working arrangements.
By: | June 21, 2019

Despite having a large labour force, Asia-Pacific is faced with a growing shortage of skilled workers. According to a global study by Korn Ferry, the five markets with the most significant talent crunch as a percentage of their economies are Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, and Singapore.

As a region, Asia-Pacific is expected to face a talent deficit of 47 million skilled workers by 2030, which could result in a potential loss of US$4.238 trillion in annual revenue.

Given the stiff competition for talents due to the shortage, growing businesses need to accommodate new ways of working to not only retain their employees, but also attract new talent. One way of doing so is by offering flexible work arrangements (flexi-work).

A Randstad Workmonitor survey found that almost nine out of ten employees in Asia Pacific believe that having the flexibility to work remotely and outside of stipulated business hours will improve their overall job satisfaction and ultimately increase loyalty to the business.

Despite the preference for flexi-work by employees, it is still not common for businesses to offer these working arrangements. In the same Randstad survey, 79% of respondents across Asia Pacific said that their employers still require them to work in a traditional manner.


Cloud: The enabler of flexi-work

Until recently, employees have been required to be present in the office and work standard business hours. However, the advent of cloud technology presents an opportunity for a new way of working.

Similar to how cloud has enabled us to consume lifestyle services from anywhere and at any time, cloud also enables growing businesses to offer flexibility in terms of the hours their employees work or the location they work from.


Gain a more productive workforce

Flexi-work enables employees to fulfil tasks in an environment that is the most conducive to them. A study by Standford over a period of 24 months has found that employees experience a productivity boost when they work from home.

Some reasons for this include fewer distractions and fewer interruptions from colleagues.

In addition, telecommuting allows employees to be productive while they are travelling on business or connected when they face unexpected events such as fires or natural disasters.

Singapore-based distributor SunMoon, for instance, continued to service its customers after a fire broke out at its warehouse. Having most of its business applications reside in the cloud, the company’s employees were able to execute important tasks from a nearby coffee shop.


Offer employees work-life balance

Cloud-based business apps allow staff to set their own work schedule, which may deviate from the traditional working hours of 8am to 5pm or 9am to 6pm.

This flexibility is highly sought after by employees who need to take care of their ageing parents or young children as it helps them to achieve a better work-life balance.

Take the case of M.Tech for example, whose employees now work remotely or with greater flexibly. For instance, parents can leave the office earlier to collect their children from pre-school, and complete tasks from home if required.

Besides that, a flexible work arrangement allows employees to attend education courses or learn new skills which may be offered during usual business hours.

The newly gained skills will not only benefit their personal growth but could also potentially be used to bring additional value to the business.

Work is no longer limited to an office or the usual nine-to-six workday. Employees today expect work to be adaptable to their needs, and the cloud enables businesses to offer such a flexible work arrangement.

This way, they stay more engaged, which, as one study found, can help increase sales by 20% and profits by 21%. Growing businesses that offer flexi-work are poised for higher growth.

This article was written by Graeme Burt, the Vice-President of New Business Direct at Oracle NetSuite in Asia-Pacific (including Japan).