Two-thirds of Malaysian employees stress over financial situation, lack of support

Adapting to and recognising challenges are half the battle in keeping businesses productive, says expert


TWO out of three Malaysian employees have reported high levels of stress due to financial situations, working arrangements and not having the right enablement and support on a daily basis, based on the SME100-WTW Employee Experience Study 2020.

The survey aims to provide insights on employees during the pandemic and to raise awareness around the importance of developing strong employee experience.

The regional study was done across Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam, and jointly conducted by Business Media International Sdn Bhd, the organisers of the SME100 Awards and Willis Towers Watson plc.

Willis Towers Watson practice leader Yeo Ooi Keong said adapting to and recognising challenges are half the battle in keeping businesses productive as two-thirds of the workforce in Malaysia are employed by small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

“While lockdowns are crucial to flatten the Covid-19 curve, employees’ mental health and wellbeing has become an emerging concern across many companies,” he said.

The survey also revealed that local SMEs are ahead in employee engagement despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

Malaysian SMEs scored 90% in employee experience, 6% better than the regional average.

“The study showed that nine out of 10 employees believed in their company’s purpose, trusted its leaders, were provided opportunities for growth and felt recognised for contributions,” Yeo said.

Additionally, 92% of those surveyed were proud to be a part of their company. As a result, two out of three indicated satisfaction in staying within the same role, while three out of five would recommend the company to friends.

Business Media International group publisher Datuk William Ng said identifying challenges early on is crucial for SMEs as it allows owners to strategise areas of improvement to business operations and to be more effective in attracting and retaining talents for their businesses.

“It is enlightening to dispel the notion that our SMEs are not up to par when it comes to employee experience. In fact, Malaysia scored higher than our regional peers.

“However, we do need to empathise more with employees during this pandemic; including watching out for signs of ‘burnout’, help employees balance their work and personal commitments, and perhaps even provide employees with financial education resources,” he said.

Yeo added that given the hyper-competitive landscape for talent in Malaysia, it is a critical advantage for SMEs to attract and retain the right talent.

“The survey data has shown that SMEs are equally able to provide an engaging work experience for their employees and we see the roles of leaders being key in supporting this. By leveraging an experience that is focused on practical development, we believe that SMEs hold a distinct differentiator against the rest of the market,” he said.