Most M’sians are career cushioners

KUALA LUMPUR: A majority of Malaysians are career cushioning, which is the practice of creating a backup plan to protect themselves in case they want to switch careers or if they are laid off, a survey has found.

With 92% of employees admitting to career cushioning to future-proof their employability, Malaysia ranked the highest among five countries surveyed, beating Singapore (84%), New Zealand (70%), Australia (66%) and the United Kingdom (63%).

This is according to the Talent Insights Report by human resource, payroll and benefits platform Employment Hero, which polled over 1,000 Malaysian workers.

A major contributor behind the high number of career cushioners was that 45% of employees felt that their salaries were not catching up with the rising inflation, said the report released yesterday.

While 48% of respondents were looking to move internally for their next role, 46% said they wanted their next role to be in a new organisation.

The top reason for seeking a new role in a different organisation was poor company culture (43%) followed by a dislike for their boss (38%) and lack of appreciation or recognition (34%).

Many are expanding their professional skill set, with 31% saying they were learning how to better use tech tools.

Some 28% said they were open to changing industries while 26% were looking for freelance or contract opportunities alongside their main employment, 20% were trying to expand their professional network by attending events and 20% were looking for new roles.

While flexibility and recognition appeal to employees to stay in their current jobs, the report noted that “cash is still king when it comes to recruitment and retention”.

Survey data from job switchers showed that pay rises continue to attract people, with 53% of employees saying they would move jobs for a salary increase in 2023, while 43% of employees said they would also stay on in their current role if given a salary increase.

Flexible working arrangements attracted only a small number of employees in the survey, with only 17% saying they would stay if there was an introduction of more flexible working options such as flexible hours and location.

Speaking at a forum during the launch of the report here yesterday, Employment Hero Asia managing director Kevin Fitzgerald said career cushioning should be embraced by employers as it can be beneficial for both the individual and the company.

“While many Malaysian employees seem to feel the need to cushion their careers, employers shouldn’t be discouraged by this, and instead use this opportunity to be more transparent with employees around their job security.

“Additionally, making employees feel valued and recognised for their hard work can play a big and important part in retaining staff, and strengthening loyalty and advocacy,” he said.

FavePay Later head Audra Pakalnyte said career cushioning was especially prevalent among millennials and Gen Z workers.

She said among the factors were that the income level among Malaysians had not risen significantly in more than a decade, with fresh graduates still earning a similar salary rate despite the higher cost of living currently.

IWG country manager for Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, Vijayakumar Tangarasan, who also spoke at the forum, said many companies have taken measures to reduce their overheads and take the cost savings to invest in people development in order to boost employee retention.

When contacted yesterday, Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) president Mohd Effendy Abdul Ghani said it was important for employees to upskill and reskill to enhance their employability in an evolving job market.

“Continuously enhancing ones’ skills is something we very much welcome as it is something that will ensure that workers in the country will be future-proof,” he said.

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