For companies to stand out among their competitors and become an “employer of choice”, employers have to pique their candidates’ interest by having a strong Employee Value Proposition (EVP).

Candidates often have a list of EVP factors that they prioritise and value when looking for a new job and employer. When employers invest in understanding what employees value in an organisation and matching their expectations, it helps reduce long-term talent acquisition and retention efforts. This will allow the employer to have an edge over their competitors and save on high workforce management costs.

LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends 2017 revealed that 80% of workforce leaders agree that a strong employer brand has a significant impact on their ability to hire a great workforce.

And even when the labour market is less than ideal, the COVID-19 Labour Pulse Survey found that 58% of working professionals are actively looking for a job. Have their priorities changed and how can companies that are still hiring or engaging with their candidates match those new expectations? Here’s what we’ve found.

how job security motivate employees
how job security motivate employees

job security trumps attractive salary and benefits in attracting employees

The 2020 Employer Brand Research, which was conducted before COVID-19, found that ‘attractive salary and benefits’ is the most sought after employer value proposition (EVP) for job seekers. This is not a surprise to anyone. With a rising cost of living and aspiration to live a better quality of life, many employees tend to seek a company that is known for their generous compensation packages. A higher salary is also seen as a security buffer due to the potential uncertainties around the current local economic and political landscape.

However, COVID-19 has significantly changed the business environment. Companies that have ramped up their digital infrastructure to ensure business continuity have to re-train their staff for other functions to avoid job displacements. Others have implemented HR measures to mitigate costs, such as hiring and bonus freezes or even salary cuts. In fact, 20% of respondents have reported taking a pay cut or a salary freeze for a temporary period or indefinitely.

Hence, it is understandable that many may be more concerned about securing their jobs and livelihoods during this tumultuous time. Given the ‘new normal’, respondents have ranked ‘job security’ as the most important EVP factor, over ‘attractive salary and benefits’.

employee value proposition factors

Pre-COVID-19 REBR 2020 Post-COVID COVID-19 Labour Pulse Survey
Provides attractive salary & employee benefits Has job security
Supports a healthy work-life balance Provides attractive salary & employee benefits
Provides good career progression Corporate financial health
Corporate financial health Supports a healthy work-life balance
Has a pleasant work atmosphere Has a pleasant work atmosphere
Has job security Provides good career progression
Good corporate reputation Good corporate reputation
Gives back to the society Has interesting job content
Has interesting job content Use the latest technology
Use the latest technology Gives back to the society

With more and more announcements around retrenchments and business closure, people are naturally becoming more concerned about the company’s financial ability to keep its workforce employed. Organisations should be more transparent in their communications with their employees and job candidates about the firm’s ability to stay afloat during COVID-19. Companies should reassure their employees of how the work they do can contribute to the firm’s long-term survival.

For example, employers can explain to interviewees why there is a role opening and how much of the job responsibilities have actually been affected by COVID-19. Job seekers would also need to be assured that  there is no “last-in, first-out” policy within the firm, where the latest hire is usually deemed most at risk of being retrenched should things go south.

employees want internal training to upskill

With the current pandemic posing severe disruptions, we’ve seen companies having to reassess critical jobs and expand definitions of job roles. While COVID-19 may have temporarily halted the progress towards Industry 4.0, it does not change the fact that 9 in the top 10 emerging jobs are linked to STEM learning.

We’ve also seen anecdotes of companies ramping up their digital infrastructure, with tech quickly becoming the enabler for such collective efforts. For example, retail companies have started to pivot from their usual brick and mortar stores to e-commerce, whilst some retail staff have been reassigned to digital marketing teams to help develop new sales campaigns. We’ve also witnessed the rise of digital banking and insurtech in the past few months, with a greater focus on client engagement, cybersecurity and data protection.

Employees know that they are at risk of losing their jobs if they don’t take the initiative to upskill themselves. Those who have unfortunately lost their jobs during COVID-19 will also need to upskill and obtain new qualifications to better their chances of securing employment. Such programmes not only allow employees to build a variety of skills, but also enable them to exercise greater flexibility in their career development.

As unemployment figures remain high, the need to resolve the glaring gap between the current talent pool and the digital skills sought has undoubtedly taken centre stage. To secure jobs and livelihoods, many have demonstrated their interests for re-skilling and upskilling programmes. Such programmes not only allow employees to build a variety of skills, but to allow exercise greater flexibility in their career development.

restructuring and role changes
restructuring and role changes

career progression will become a benchmark EVP factor post COVID-19

As companies begin to grasp the reality of how rapidly our environment can change, career development programmes may soon become a norm post-COVID.

It is expected that employers will place a greater importance in re-skilling and upskilling their employees to ensure that the workforce is well-equipped to handle future work disruptions. Companies are also stepping up to close the skills gap in their workforce to ensure that they continue to stay relevant and competitive.

Leading companies in the digital ecosystem have provided various opportunities to upskill and re-skill talent for future jobs. For example, Huawei Malaysia recently launched the Huawei ASEAN Academy, which will provide more than 3,000 information and communications courses to groom approximately 50,000 Malaysian talent over the next five years. Furthermore, we have also seen a partnership between MDEC and Coursera called ‘Let’s Learn Digital’, which aims to provide re-skilling and upskilling opportunities for unemployed workers. SAP Malaysia also collaborated with MDEC as part of the #DigitalVsCovid movement, which allows for the nurturing of talent and building a future ready workforce.

Companies are offering internship and traineeship positions for fresh graduates and mid-career switchers. This will not just build their internal talent pipeline, but also allow these workers to acquire in-demand skills through on-the-job training. When employees are equipped with a greater variety of skills, they tend to be more flexible and agile in the way they work and companies can easily re-deploy them to new functions or roles in the future.

bridging the skills gap
bridging the skills gap

Other organisations that have placed their permanent hiring on hold due to budget constraints may have increased their hiring appetite for contractors. Not only does this strategy allow the company to maintain their business operations, they also give these professional contract workers an opportunity to work in an organisation or role that might otherwise not be open or accessible to them. These contracting professionals are also able to gain some income stability and new experiences, which would make them more attractive to their future employers.

on-track to building a highly-skilled workforce

Workers who are in stable employment are less likely to leave their roles this year. Not only are there fewer jobs in the market to choose from, they might also not be able to negotiate for a better remuneration package that meets their expectations during a time when companies are tightening their wallets.

Therefore, more local professionals will focus on acquiring new in-demand skills such as data analytics and storytelling or simple coding and programming to secure their long-term employability. They would either take advantage of government grants to sign up for external training courses or be more diligent in attending virtual seminars and workshops to upskill themselves. There’s also an increasing number of employees who are open to cross-team collaborations or redeployment to expand their skills set and avoid layoffs.

The collective efforts from the government, employers and employees will prove successful in building a highly-skilled local workforce in Malaysia in the years to come. The highly-competitive environment will also attract more companies to invest in Malaysia, bringing with them even more business and career opportunities to grow.

Are you planning to restructure your business for the “new normal” or hiring new talent to manage with business expansion due to COVID-19? Our specialist HR consultants are here to guide you through. Connect with us about your HR needs today.

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