Australians more worried about workforce productivity than Asia-Pacific neighbours

Australians more worried about workforce productivity than Asia-Pacific neighbours

Battle looming within region to keep employees on home soil

Falling productivity and workplace performance is still the number one issue keeping Australian business leaders up at night, with a quarter noting it as their major concern, and over half (52%) rating their ability to face the challenge as either average or poor.

In fact, local business leaders are more concerned about workplace productivity than any other country in the region, according to the annual Randstad World of Work Report, with only 17% of businesses in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore noting productivity as a major concern, and 19% of Indian leaders listing it as a primary challenge.

Worryingly, Australians are also the least confident in their ability to overcome productivity challenges in the coming year, with only 5% saying they are in an excellent position to improve workplace performance.

Steve Shepherd, Group Director of recruitment & HR services specialist, Randstad, says while workforce productivity has been an issue facing business leaders for a number of years, the rapid growth of neighbouring economies means workforce issues need to be a primary focus for business leaders.

“With Asia-Pacific economies and regional business sectors on a growth trajectory, the onus is on local business leaders to ensure their organisation is conducive to a productive, high performing and positive workforce.

“This becomes even more important with the growing appetite amongst neighbouring countries for talented and motivated employees. With opportunities increasing for Australian workers to move within the region, local businesses are going to have to work hard to keep talent in the country.

“With a skilled workforce key to maintaining productivity levels, workforce management needs to become a central business consideration in the coming year,” says Shepherd.

The World of Work research, commissioned by Randstad, also highlights a fight for talent could be brewing within the Asia Pacific region.

Managers in China (18%), India (18%), Malaysia (23%), Singapore (22%) and Hong Kong (26%) all noted that finding staff to foster growth plans was the biggest challenge facing their business, and all were confident in their ability to attract employees.

This fact is not lost on local business leaders, with almost two thirds (63%) saying they are concerned about attracting high calibre employees, while 67% say they are worried about their ability to attract talented middle managers into their organisation.

Steve Shepherd says in order to counter this increased competition for workers, organisations need to look at what their employees value in the workplace and ensure these are incorporated into the heart of business and talent management plans.

“Employee satisfaction and high engagement can be achieved through providing enjoyable, challenging and rewarding work, in a supportive, fun and productive environment where high performance is valued and recognised.

“Not every employee is after a bigger pay cheque. If people are happy at work, if they’re being recognised for great work, if they are motivated to achieve their goals by inspirational leaders, if they see a clear development path and have the flexibility they need to balance their work and personal commitments, then success and engagement will follow. And these aren’t actions that require any great expense,” adds Shepherd.

Randstad’s research shows 63% of Australians respond to flexible working options as the prime consideration in choosing a workplace. Interestingly, training and development programs (54%) as well as leadership opportunities (41%) and sufficient recognition (22%) are among the most important considerations for Australian employees.

Strategic talent management – a game changer for 2014

In a worrying trend, the concern about attracting workers hasn’t led to an increased focus on workforce planning or leadership development, with 82% of businesses saying they only plan their workforce a year or less in advance.

Over half (56%) of businesses admit to devoting 10% or less of their planning time to workforce strategies, while 76% don’t use the latest developments in workforce analytics to source and retain employees.

Steve Shepherd says businesses need to be more serious about workforce planning, talent analytics and invest in strengthening their employer brand if they are going to remain an attractive proposition in Australia and throughout the region.

“Business leaders can see the talent acquisition challenges on the horizon, so those wishing to stand out from local and international competition will start placing a greater focus on workforce planning and analytics sooner rather than later.

Reluctance to invest time in workforce planning strategies may hinder the ability to attract talented employees to fill pipelines for critical roles and leadership in the future.

Over half (51%) of businesses in Malaysia, 42% in India and 31% of organisations in China spend 30% or more of their planning time considering workforce strategies, and Steve Shepherd says this extra effort could draw high potential employees out of Australia.

“We can no longer just view other Australian companies as our competition. Organisations need to pay attention to developments taking place overseas and understand how these may draw talent away from Australian operations.

“And with workforce planning gaining steam throughout the Asia Pacific region, it’s important Australian businesses are putting the same effort into their strategies. Otherwise we risk being left behind.”
Posted: Saturday, 12 July 2014 - 4:32 PM