20 Aug 2018 12:17:51 PM

Balancing Work and Life: Where Do Malaysian Employers Stand?

While many employers understand their employees’ need to have a balanced work-life arrangement and have put in place policies to support this, there is still a large number of companies that do not provide adequate work-life options for their employees.
To further promote the implementation of balanced work-life practices (WLPs) to Malaysian companies, Talent Corporation Malaysia Berhad (TalentCorp), in collaboration with EY, conducted a study to understand the implementation of WLPs across 10 key industries: Financial Services, Professional Services, Consumer Products and Retail, Technology, Media, and Telecommunications, Healthcare and Life Sciences, Education, Automotive, Logistics, and Transportation, Manufacturing and Intermediate Goods, Real Estate, Hospitality, and Construction as well as Utilities, Oil and Gas.

The survey, conducted from August to December 2017 with over 360 companies, looked into three key areas: Malaysian employers’ recognition of the importance and demand for WLPs, the prevalence and extent of work-life practice implementation in Malaysia and the impact of WLPs on productivity and the nation’s journey towards becoming a developed nation.
The survey revealed that the majority of Malaysian employers view WLPs as beneficial to both employer and employee, with nine out of 10 respondents offering at least one work-life practice.
Positive WLPs were found to have a positive impact across all 10 areas of business – employee engagement and motivation, productivity, work quality, performance rating, cost savings, revenue, customer satisfaction, talent retention, talent attraction and preventing absenteeism.

Lack of family-friendly practices may hinder female labour force participation. Source: Life At Work Survey 2018, TalentCorp
Flexible work arrangements which ranked the highest were flexi-hours (48%), leaving early from work (34%), staggered hours (22%), job sharing (19%) and telecommuting (16%). Although Malaysian employers closely matched their regional competitors in terms of flex-time options, it was clearly lagging in flex-place practices. The low rate of telecommuting (flex-place) being offered is possibly due to either a lack of trust or an emphasis on onsite collaboration encouraged by the appeal of efficient and attractive ‘modern offices’.

Most Malaysian firms offer at least one form of WLP, but fall short in the extent of implementation. Source: Life At Work Survey 2018, TalentCorp

Financial Services, Education And OGE Companies Take The Lead In Implementing Work-Life Practices

Interestingly, a comparison of industries showed that all the surveyed financial services companies offer at least one type of WLP for their employees. Meanwhile, the education industry has the highest implementation rate for job sharing (36%) and childcare centres (16%) – two relatively more complex or costly WLPs. Real estate, hospitality, and construction companies are amongst those that intend to offer childcare subsidies (43%), childcare centres (39%) and car parks for pregnant women (39%).

Utilities as well as oil and gas companies have the highest adoption rate for flexi hours (63%) and other more complex WLPs such as compressed work week, seasonal/project work, phased retirement and support network; with phased retirement offered three (3) times more often than the industry average (17% vs. 5%). These companies cite organisation culture as a success factor (80%).
Lack of industrial prevalence is the most common reason for not implementing work-life practices. Source: Life At Work Survey 2018, TalentCorp

On the other end of the spectrum, professional services, manufacturing and intermediate goods companies fall behind in WLP implementation. WLPs are demand-driven in the automotive, logistics and transportation industry.

Employers that do not implement WLPs cited lack of industrial prevalence as the most common reason for their present policy. The survey also showed that four out five of non-implementers do not have plans to implement WLPs in the near future.
Three Key Recommendations For Healthier, Balanced Workforce

The survey findings also suggest that policy-makers and companies should look into three key recommendations to help promote a healthier, more balanced work-life arrangement for employees.
Firstly, policy-makers should review labour law/workplace-related regulations to increase talent retention and female labour force participation rate.
For example, tax incentives should be expanded to encourage the setting up of more family-friendly facilities (nursing rooms, etc.). In addition, firms should be legally mandated to offer family-friendly practices such as paternity leave of a minimum duration.

Secondly, companies should focus on developing a strong business case to get their leadership team to support a balanced, work-life agenda, as management buy-in has been proven to be the top success factor to successful implementation of WLPs.
Finally, firms should incorporate WLPs within their Human Resources policies as benefits, facilities, and/or working arrangements available to employees. To ensure that these practices are achieving the intended purpose and identify areas of improvement, they should track the effectiveness of their organisation’s WLPs.

Click to download the summarised WLPs report.

LIFE AT WORK 2017 Awards, Winner of CEO Champion Albern Murty of Digi

As a key advocate of balanced WLPs, TalentCorp has been encouraging Malaysian companies to adopt innovative workplace policies and solutions for the benefit of the employer as well as the employee. Since the launch of LIFE AT WORK in 2013, more than 90 companies in Malaysia have implemented WLPs in their organisations. TalentCorp celebrates employers who champion the Diversity and Inclusion agenda and recognises employers with progressive workplace strategies and practices at the annual LIFE AT WORK Awards. This year’s Awards is currently open for submission.

For more on LIFE AT WORK Awards and how you can participate, visit www.lifeatwork.my.