• 69 per cent Malaysians want ‘attractive salary and benefits’ and 49 per cent seek ‘work-life balance’ from their ideal employer
  • 37 per cent of survey respondents plan to change employer in the next 12 months, mainly due to a limited career path
  • The most popular and attractive sectors to work for in Malaysia are oil and gas, transportation and logistics and manufacturing

Employees and job seekers in Malaysia ranked ‘attractive salary and benefits’ as the most important consideration when seeking for an ideal employer, much more than ‘work-life balance’ or ‘career progression opportunities’.

Randstad - one of the world’s largest recruitment agencies - today released the findings of the annual Employer Brand Research in Malaysia. Commissioned by Randstad and conducted independently, the global study is the most representative employer brand research that measures the perception of the country’s largest commercial employers (by workforce size) and unlocks drivers of employee motivation.

Ryan Carroll, Country Director at Randstad Malaysia said, “With unemployment rates below four per cent, the country is operating at full employment, indicating that companies are competing against each other for the best talent. The Employer Brand Research provides a comprehensive year-on-year analysis of the workforce trends and public’s perception of the employer brand to help companies formulate their attraction and retention strategies. This year’s results have also confirmed that Malaysians are increasingly placing more importance on ‘work-life balance’, indicating that employers should start offering progressive initiatives to help employees be healthier and more productive at work.”


what are employees and job seekers looking for?  

‘attractive salary & benefits’ top of mind for malaysian employees  

According to the research, almost seven in 10 employees and job seekers in Malaysia said that ‘attractive salary and benefits’ is the number one must-have criteria for their ideal employer. This is followed by ‘work-life balance’ (49 per cent) and ‘career progression’ (40 per cent).

Employees’ expectations of having an ‘attractive salary and benefits’ have increased by five per cent this year (from 63 per cent in 2017). This upward trend suggests that employees and job seekers in Malaysia might be prioritising salary to meet the higher cost of living and as a security buffer due to the potential uncertainties around the local economic and political landscape.

The research highlights that women ranked ‘attractive salary and benefits’ more important than men. This increased expectation for ‘attractive salary and benefits’ could be attributed to the nation’s efforts to boost the economy by ensuring that more women are joining and re-entering the workforce. Furthermore, women are more likely to negotiate for an equal pay as an effort to narrow the gender pay gap, which is still prevalent in the country. Employers should always determine the salary based on market benchmarks, as well as the potential employee’s skills, experience and knowledge, instead of historical salary data which are often influenced by old biases and inequalities.

One of the most notable trends captured in the research is that employees’ expectations on ‘work-life balance’ in Malaysia have increased steadily since 2016 to 49 per cent this year. While it is the second most important criteria that people seek in an ideal employer, it is critical that employers start recognising and investing in work-life balance initiatives and policies to appeal to job seekers who want more than financial remuneration when choosing a potential employer.

how can you retain talent?  

more than one in three employees plan to leave their employers in 2018

Even though having ‘attractive salary and benefits’ is the number one criteria that employees in Malaysia look for in an ideal employer, the most common reason they chose for why they would leave their current company is in fact the lack of career progression opportunities.

Out of the 37 per cent of respondents who said that they plan to leave their current employers, 44 per cent cited ‘limited career path’ as the key reason, followed by ‘insufficient compensation’ (41 per cent) and ‘work-life balance issues’ (31 per cent).

top five reasons why employees leave (37 per cent of all respondents)

  1. limited career path (44 per cent)
  2. insufficient compensation (41 per cent)
  3. work-life balance issues (31 per cent)
  4. lack of recognition or award (30 per cent)
  5. poor leadership (29 per cent) 

However, when asked what would make them stay, ‘salary and benefits’ (54 per cent) still tops the charts as the number one reason, followed by ‘job security’ (42 per cent) and ‘work-life balance’ (41 per cent). This means that to attract and retain talent in Malaysia, employers need to make sure that they are providing employees and job seeker with a competitive pay package.  

top five reasons why employees stay (63 per cent of all respondents)

  1. salary and benefits (54 per cent)
  2. job security (42 per cent)
  3. work-life balance (41 per cent)
  4. financial health (40 per cent)
  5. work atmosphere (35 per cent)

Besides ‘salary and benefits’, the research also found that men are more likely to stay with their employers if they have good career progression opportunities. This further suggests that men are more motivated to deepen their capabilities and expand their knowledge to command better career opportunities and a higher salary.

Uncertainty in career progression is influenced by several factors such as having insufficient challenges at the job and misalignment on career expectations. The findings suggest that employers should focus more on understanding the employees’ motivations if they want to improve their retention rate.

flexibility is key to staying employed

The research further suggests that employees in Malaysia understand that they need to stay competitive to maintain their employment status, as companies continue to undergo digital transformation and business restructuring. Six in 10 employees are ‘open and flexible to change’ at work to ensure their employability and this indicates that they are adaptable to changes in job responsibilities and are willing to embrace new technology to help them be more productive. This is followed by upskilling (49 per cent) and ‘working flexible hours’ (45 per cent). 

how employees in Malaysia stay employable

  1. being open and flexible to change (60 per cent)
  2. keep my skills up-to-date through training and courses (49 per cent)
  3. working flexible hours (45 per cent)
  4. be sociable with colleagues, managers and professional network (43 per cent)
  5. willing to switch career (37 per cent)

Technology in the workplace in Malaysia can impact both men and women differently. The results suggest that men are more adaptable in the workplace when compared to women, with a higher percentage being more eager to adopt the latest technicals and technologies (men - 39 per cent; women - 32 per cent). On the contrary, women are more likely to focus on developing their soft skills or seek career opportunities through networking.

oil and gas tops as the most attractive sector to work for

Companies within the Oil and Gas sector performed the best out of the 12 sectors in Malaysia. The average attractiveness score in this sector increased by two per cent to 52 per cent this year. This is four per cent above the country’s average of 48 per cent. Companies included in this sector are Petroliam Nasional Berhad (PETRONAS), Shell Malaysia and Sapura Energy Berhad. PETRONAS and Shell Malaysia are the top two Most Attractive Employers to work for in Malaysia this year.

The Transportation and Logistics sector came in second as the most popular and attractive sector for employees and job seekers based in Malaysia. The research highlighted that the average attractiveness score of the sector increased significantly by nine per cent to 55 per cent in 2018. This indicates that the employers within this industry are reaping the rewards from having a well-perceived employer brand that resonates strongly with the local workforce. Employers included in this sector are AirAsia, Malaysia Airlines, Malaysia Airports and Westports Holding.

The Employer Brand Research captured the views of 3,308 employees and job seekers in Malaysia between the ages of 18 and 65. It provides insights into the perceptions and drivers of choice of employees and job seekers to inform employers of their human resources capital strategies. The Employer Brand Research is completed by Kantar TNS, a global insights and consultancy agency. Interviews were conducted online between November and December 2017 with controlled samples to ensure a nationally representative survey sample of the online population in each country (age and gender).

For more in-depth employer branding insights, request a complimentary copy of the Randstad Employer Brand Research 2018 Malaysia report.



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