Transformative shifts in South-East Asia’s employee experience

A Qualtrics report highlights rising employee expectations, hybrid work, AI assistance, and frontline employee issues.
By: | November 16, 2023

Employee expectations will be higher than ever in 2024, and employees want to have a voice when it comes to building a workplace experience that addresses their individual needs, according to the 2024 Employee Experience Trends Report from Qualtrics.

The study also shows employees in South-East Asia are some of the most welcoming of new technology, if it helps them meet their goals – including AI and passive listening to their messages and emails.

The state of employee experience in South-East Asia

After three years of noticeable improvements through the pandemic, the annual Qualtrics study shows a dip in employee experience (EX) indicators like engagement, exceeding expectations, intent to stay, inclusion, and wellbeing. To help leaders drive improvements amid ongoing change and AI adoption, the study outlines 2024’s key EX drivers and trends.

  1. Some time in the office is better than none—unless it is five days

As the debate continues over how many days employees should spend in the office, Qualtrics’ research shows the key indicators of a positive employee experience are highest for employees with hybrid work schedules.

Fully remote employees have on average: 74% engagement, 77% wellbeing, and 70% intent to stay. For those in the office two to four days, indicators improve to 82%, 80%, and 70%. However, five-day office employees show lower scores: 68% engagement, 69% wellbeing, and 65% intent to stay, with inclusion at 73% and exceeding expectations at 32%.

  1. Employees would rather AI assist them than evaluate them

In South-East Asia, 55% of employees are open to AI assistance at work, surpassing the global average of 42%. Their comfort with AI varies, with 71% willing to use it for writing tasks, 68% as a personal assistant, and 61% for contacting support functions. However, in high-stakes scenarios like performance evaluations (51%) and hiring decisions (40%), willingness decreases.

  1. Frontline employees are unhappy, poorly supported and least trusting

Frontline employees, like cashiers, servers, retail, and healthcare workers, are vital for success and customer experience. Yet, their morale is lower than non-frontline peers. Many frontline employees feel that their basic pay, benefits, and growth opportunities are insufficient, they lack crucial support to perform their roles effectively, and they perceive limited influence in proposing improvements to established practices.

READ MORE: How to better align HR with business outcomes 

  1. The new job honeymoon phase has vanished

While historically new employees exhibited higher engagement in their first year, the Qualtrics study shows new hires now have lower engagement, intent to stay, wellbeing, and inclusion compared to their more tenured peers. The importance of an employee’s first several months for building loyalty and enabling them is evident, yet only 41% of HR leaders prioritise onboarding new employees. Excluding new employees from annual engagement might result in missing vital insights for retaining these newcomers.

  1. Employees favour sharing work messages for better EX but hesitate with social media

Today, the majority of employees are at ease with passive monitoring of work communication in return for a better experience at work. This shift aligns with feedback technology advancements, providing organisations with new ways to gauge employee wellbeing. Passive listening, unlike actively solicited feedback, offers insights without requiring additional effort from employees.

In the current climate of increasing productivity and navigating tight labour markets, improving EX is one of the most important and impactful steps a business or government can take. Dr Cecelia Herbert, Principal XM Catalyst at Qualtrics XM Institute, noted there is a well-established connection between employee engagement and organisational outcomes – from profitability through to customer satisfaction – and employers that maintain their people-centric focus, which involves ensuring managers have the tools, support and capabilities needed to lead their teams, will be the standout performers in years to come.

Read the full 2024 Employee Experience Trends Report here.