19 Dec 2018 03:00:00 PM

Work-life practices key to winning in Future of Work

In a special message, Human Resources Minister YB M. Kula Segaran talks about the need for Malaysia to Rethink the Workplace and Reinvent the Workforce to meet the challenges of the Future of Work.
THE FUTURE OF WORK is upon us. The Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0) has simplified our work processes and improved our productivity. However, it is also disrupting industries and old business models. According to a recent World Economic Forum (WEF) Future of Jobs report, automation and technology will displace 75 million jobs by 2022. However, on a positive note, 133 million new jobs will also be created1. These are jobs that require human capabilities — including soft skills like creative thinking, critical thinking, out-of-box thinking, social and emotional learning.

Therefore, in order to be ready for the Future of Work, Malaysia must equip our workforce with a strong aptitude for learning, the capacity to work with machines, data and algorithms, and the soft skills to solve challenging problems. We do this by upskilling and reskilling our people through the right education reforms, human capital interventions and training programmes.

But we must do more than this. A key to winning in the Future of Work is for our companies to implement work-life practices. The reason for this is because work-life practices is the way for Malaysia to harness our strength in our diversity. Let me illustrate why: The Future of Work is driven by the gig economy — with technology, talent can now choose to work from anywhere, at anytime.
YB M. Kula Segaran being interviewed by journalists.

Through implementing work-life practices, employers create the flexible and caring environments to meet talent needs and desires. Therefore, when implemented by the entire country, work-life practices will help Malaysia to attract, nurture and retain talent from all segments of our national talent pool. Work-life practices are especially instrumental in bringing Malaysian women on career breaks back to the workforce.

Malaysia produces more women public university graduates than men2, yet in 2017, our Female Labour Force Participation Rate is 54.7 percent years3. Studies show that our women have a tendency to drop out of work for various reasons in the prime of their careers, and many admit that it is difficult to return to the workforce.4

To stem this women talent drain, the government will offer individual income tax breaks to eligible women returnees — up to a maximum of 12 months of employment income. We hope that this exemption, which will be implemented in 2019, will bring back more women on TalentCorp’s Career Comeback Programme. While it is true that work-life practices tend to be strongly supportive of working parents, especially women, the best types of worklife practices are inclusive and cater to the needs of a diverse workforce. This includes of course, our youth — who are the biggest component of the Malaysian workforce. Mobile and technology driven, our youth desire flexibility and autonomy at work — we can give them this by empowering them through work-life practices.

YB Kula with YB Hannah Yeoh at LIFE AT WORK 2018 Awards.

I also hope that Malaysian employers seriously consider designing your workplaces to accommodate our differently-abled citizens. As Malaysia pushes for economic success, we must not leave behind persons with disabilities (PWD). In fact, if done well, not only will proper work-life practices empower PWDs, they will also encourage older citizens to continue working, and contribute their wealth of knowledge and experience to the country. I am very encouraged to see the significant increase in submissions to this year’s LIFE AT WORK Awards. This annual government initiative, driven by TalentCorp, is our way of appreciating and celebrating progressive companies who embrace Diversity & Inclusion in the workplace through the implementation of work-life practices. My heartiest congratulations to the winners of this year’s awards, and deepest appreciation to all 86 companies who have made the LIFE AT WORK difference.

Truly, your people-centric work-life policies have helped to harness their strengths and capabilities, and in turn, created your remarkable business results. I look forward to increased participation in next year’s awards!

1 Future of Jobs Report 2018 (World Economic Forum, 2018)
2 Quick Facts 2017, Malaysia Educational Statistics (Ministry of Education, Malaysia)
3 Labour Force Survey 2017 (Department of Statistics Malaysia)
4 Retaining Women in the Workforce Survey (TalentCorp-ACCA, 2013)
This article was originally published in The Edge Weekly on 3 Dec 2018.