Asia-Pacific’s talent epiphany: 5 ways to make it a retention advantage

It’s a great time to be a job-seeker. But it’s also a great time to be an HR leader – because right now you have a compelling business case to turn Asia Pacific’s ‘talent epiphany’ into an acquisition and retention opportunity. Here are five ways to shape your strategy.

While regional data may not reflect a dramatic ‘Great Resignation’, we are certainly seeing a much higher employee turnover rate than pre-COVID levels in Asia Pacific. Some sectors are feeling it more than others – talent demand in technology has only grown in the past two years, and professional services are typically the first to accelerate out of a downturn.

Even if you’re not feeling the pinch right now, brace yourself. It’s coming.

The experience of pushing through a pandemic has triggered an epiphany about the role of work. A recent global survey found more than 68% of employees said it made them long for bigger changes in their life.

COVID is not the only root cause. We’re now seeing catch-up turnover as confidence in the labour market strengthens – those who took less ideal career paths during lockdowns because their job had been impacted can now get back on track. International mobility may be resuming, but there's still an inflated level of opportunity in the market with less competition.

Quite frankly, why wouldn’t unhappy job-seekers be opportunistic right now? There are many great roles out there, often with boosted remuneration and additional benefits. If they have an appetite for change, this period of rebuilding is full of exciting potential.

So how can you hold onto your employees? It’s not just a case of throwing more money at the problem in the form of higher compensation. Yes, in some cases higher pay might be one answer. But it needs to be augmented with a longer-term, practical approach.

One that will not only see you retain your top talent, but also attract those Great Resigners looking for their next big thing.

The 5 retention strategies your people care about

Korn Ferry’s new guide to beating these turnover trends highlights the five most important predictors of retention. They are also the five most compelling levers in your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) – which in turn also helps you bring the right talent on board.

1. Confidence in your organisation and leadership

Globally, nearly 75% of employees who plan on staying with an organisation for the long-term say they have trust and confidence in their company’s leaders. Just 31% of those who planned to leave reported that same trust.

You can have the best benefits, great remuneration, and say all the right things. But if your employees’ trust in your business has been shaken, you’re already behind in the race to keep them.

2. Opportunities for growth and development

After analysing data from over 1.8 million employees around the world, Korn Ferry found opportunities to achieve career goals are the single largest indicator of a worker’s intent to stay.

Now’s the time to show your people how they can achieve their career goals – to present a vision of their future that will engage and inspire them. Invest in skills and capability development, and embed formal career mobility programs or an internal talent marketplace.

3. Differentiate your rewards

Alternative compensation packages can quickly become the norm. But if you can be first to offer the things employees genuinely value, you will stand out.

This is also a chance to create positive change. For example, in Australia we recently saw an organisation adopt a 10 days’ miscarriage leave policy. Within days many other businesses had publicly announced they were doing the same. Other opportunities could include the ability to work from anywhere in the world for four to eight weeks a year – something multicultural teams would highly value for the chance to spend time with their families again. Or other types of non-primary carers’ leave.

4. Opportunities to influence

Two of the top predictors for employee retention are when they are encouraged to come up with new or better ways of doing things, and when they feel their ideas will be adopted.

Employee ideas can be the engine driving innovation and improvements. So think carefully about how you capture and act on their initiatives – an annual engagement survey is not enough.

5. Respect and inclusion

Globally, nearly 90% of employees who report feeling respected are likely to stay with an organisation for the long term. Show you actively listen to, and act on, what they have to say, and align your leader goals and rewards with the principles of inclusion. This lever focuses on ensuring your EVP and culture align to create a supportive work environment.

Give your EVP substance

COVID has only amplified the importance of these five retention factors. And after such an uncertain couple years, right now the most important factor is trust. The organisations we see succeeding have remained true to their EVP and used it as a ballast for their talent attraction and retention. By leaning into what sets them apart, and looking after their people when times were tough, they’ve built a stronger collection of employee advocates.

To capitalise on this opportunity – to become known for treating employees better than your competitors – you need to think about what will have the most tangible and sustained impact on your workforce. Not just for the next year or two, but for the next decade.

We’ve seen turnover spike post-crises before (most recently, the Global Financial Crisis) and then settling once again. What you choose to do now will determine the size, shape and quality of your workforce during this transition period. And a clear, authentic and meaningful EVP will give you a robust platform on which to ride out the next wave.