Career growth, remuneration driving employee exodus

Updated: Oct 18

LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT: Mercer’s COVID-19 Pulse Survey, which gathered responses from 850 employers globally, found that Southeast Asia has observed some of the highest turnover rates in the world, especially at the mid-career level.

Although dissatisfaction with remuneration has been the primary cause behind their departures, poor benefits and limited career advancements were also common drivers cited by the survey participants.

Employers are also now discovering it is difficult to replace them. In fact, around 50% of the survey’s respondents experienced significant difficulty in attracting mid-career hires last year.

This volatility is particularly severe in small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), where ‘The Great Resignation’ directly impacts crucial business operations, such as digital transformation plans. A study conducted by SAP found that more than nine in 10 SMEs in the Asia-Pacific region have had their transformation plans hampered by the resignation of mid-career hires and their inability to replace them.

President of SAP Asia Pacific and Japan, Paul Marriot, says the very survival of some SMEs is at stake if an investment in talent is not undertaken immediately.

“Digital transformation is a fundamental way SMEs not only build resilience, but how they create agile, innovative paths to growth. Without the right people, any transformation will struggle. Training and developing talent must match investment in innovation to ensure SMEs in APJ both survive and thrive.”

Marriot believes the focus on training mid-career professionals must happen as soon as possible. He cites SAP’s survey, showing that 72% of SMEs will focus on digital training this year.

Workplace culture crucial in retaining employees

Milieu Insight, a Singapore-based consumer data and analytics company said that 'The Great Resignation' is less a product of employees searching for superior financial gain, but rather how corporate values align with their own.

Derek Tan, HR manager at Milieu Insight, said their research shows that a workplace culture of employee development, empowerment and engagement ensures businesses attract and retain the talent that will drive business success.

"HR Leaders and L&D professionals should take stock of how they're listening to employees, driving cultural values and recognising employee performance. All of which are critical to empowering a diverse workforce."

Technology market research specialist Vanson Bourne, concurs with this view. A survey of Singaporean workers before the Covid-19 pandemic took hold found that 86% of respondents agreed that the future of work is non-existent without training, learning and development. The survey also found that around the same number believed they were not receiving enough L&D from their organisation.

To combat this, governments like Singapore and Thailand are stepping in. The Thailand Board of Investment has approved several incentives designed to boost the levels of R&D and staff training in the country. At the same time, Singapore's SkillsFuture Advice program offers attendees access to more than 400 courses.

By facilitating worker engagement in these programs, many of which are conducted by higher learning institutes, L&D professionals can give employees many great opportunities to develop their learning, development and training.

This feature was extracted from Chief of Staff Asia's report on Training, Learning and Development. For further coverage, and access to the full report, please see any of the below links:

Time to build: Learning and Development strategies in the retention crisis (full report)

"Build" strategies now streets ahead: Chief of Staff research (news highlight)

Career growth, remuneration driving employee exodus (feature)

Training: A key strategy to attract and retain people (analysis)

Examining the financial cost of the shortage in soft skills (feature)

This Chief of Staff Asia research paper has been proudly supported by the following corporate partners:


A boutique innovation management consulting and training firm. We co-design business strategies with companies and equip executives or PMEs with 21st century skills to take charge of today's and tomorrow's economies in unison.


Kowabunga! aspires to nurture aspiring changemakers to create a better world and a better future. With its extensive experience in the education and training industry, Kowabunga! Global is developing unique Sustainability Development programmes for all career levels.

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