Employee Engagement on APAC Executives' Minds for 2016

By David Greenfield, Managing Partner

The competition for talent is intensifying in Asia. As the economy continues to recover and stabilize with the declining oil prices, the Asia-Pacific region is faced with a lack of talent that possesses the skills and capabilities the region's businesses need. Therefore, companies are investing more in time and money in employee development in order to hone the skills of their current staff.

In a recent informal survey of top insurance executives in this region, we asked them to identify their top five human capital challenges for 2016. Not surprisingly, employee engagement was seen as the No. 1 overall concern throughout the Asia-Pacific region with headcount/budget approvals coming in second. “Employee engagement is the key to activating a high-performing workforce that drives customer satisfaction and business growth,” explained Teresa Tsui, Chief Human Resources Officer- Asia Pacific for QBE Insurance.

A snapshot of what is concerning APAC insurance executives.

When employees have the right training and knowledge, they are able to easily move into a new role somewhere else for potentially a higher salary. Not all organizations can compete, but if an employee feels like he or she has a vested interest in the company where they currently work, then the likelihood of them remaining with a company significantly increases.

Today's talent challenges in Asia Pacific are significant. Organizations have to invest wisely in their employees to stay ahead of the race. Getting employee engagement right is a major step towards driving positive business results through increased employee productivity. Now is the time to focus on improving employee engagement in workplaces across Asia Pacific. Organizations can begin to improve employee engagement by focusing on the following areas:

  • Career opportunities –The importance of career opportunities within an organization is evident across generations, job levels and job function. Having a flexible and clear defined career path is one of the most critical improvements for employers to focus on.

  • Pay –Pay is one of the most important engagement drivers in Asia Pacific. Economic pressures, threats of inflation and historical pay constraints may have caused pay to be more highly sought after in specific Asia-Pacific countries.

  • Brand alignment – Brand alignment is important within Asia Pacific and organizations should be consistent in keeping the promises they make to their employees and in providing the promised experience for employees once on board.

  • Recognition – Recognition schemes are certainly less costly for an employer than direct pay and can also have a significant impact on employee engagement. Despite economic and business pressures, engagement is improving – more employees say positive things about their company and are committed to staying with them plus have put in extra efforts at work. These employees deserve recognition from their employers, which will in turn result in sustained or even higher engagement.

  • Managing performance – Employees in Asia Pacific want to work for organizations that focus on clear performance outcomes. Employers need a holistic approach to employee performance as part of their culture and one that is supported by enabling performance management processes, effective people management, learning and development supports the capability required to perform and reinforcing performance through rewards and recognition.

This changing business environment leaves Asia operations needing to be agile in their talent management strategies in order to ensure that they have the right human capital moving into the future. By fostering a sense of team and purpose for each individual employee, an organization begins to enhance the employees' emotional connection to the company and their desire to succeed and drive the company forward.

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David GreenfieldDavid Greenfield is a Managing Partner at Allegis Partners. He is an Insurance sector specialist and has been instrumental in the design and delivery of some of the most successful senior management teams within Asia Pacific and Japan during the past decade. David Greenfield can be reached at +852 3628 4663 and at dgreenfield@allegis-partners.com.

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