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State of the workplace in Asia

Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report 2023 estimates that low employee engagement costs the global economy $8.8 trillion, that’s 9% of global GDP

The pandemic has drastically altered the way we work. Remote and hybrid work grew in importance. Employers had to rush to manage the increase in resignations amid the pandemic, with most people choosing to work at their own pace.

Demand for employee well-being also increased during the COVID-19 crisis, as working parents had to struggle between taking care of their school-going children, while managing a full-time job from home.

Post-pandemic employee outlook towards work has changed immensely. More than ever, there is a demand for promoting employee welfare and flexible working conditions, as the pandemic highlighted the importance of protecting workers’ mental health and preserving work-life balance. .

Gallup’s recent report on the State of the Global Workplace, reports that low employee engagement could cost the global economy a staggering $8.8 trillion – around 9% of global GDP.

Stress levels high in East Asia

East Asia faces the highest levels of daily stress among the regions surveyed, with a higher number of male employees experiencing significant stress daily compared to their female counterparts. Nevertheless, the percentage of daily negative emotions observed among East Asian employees has lowered slightly from 2021 levels.

Exhibit 1: Daily stress high among male below 40 years old working remotely

This daily stress has certainly hampered employee engagement at workplace in the region. There is a smaller percentage of workers who are engaged at work with a larger percentage disengaged from work.

Exhibit 2: Disengagement levels high among East Asian employees

Exhibit 2 clearly indicates that a higher percentage of employees in the region are psychologically unattached to their work and company, since their needs are not being fully met. The region also has a higher percentage of employees who indicate that they are very unhappy at their workplace and are potentially undermining their teams’ accomplishments.

Engagement levels high in South Asia

South Asian employees, particularly female employees, appear to be thriving at work. One-third of employees in the region are engaged and are enthusiastic about their work and workplace, the highest percentage among other regions. This paints a positive outlook for South Asia, where female employees are more engaged at work, possibly leading to better future career outcomes for them.

Exhibit 3: South Asian employees are thriving at work

Interestingly, anger levels among South Asian employees is also very high, particularly female employees who report experiencing anger daily.

Exhibit 4: Daily anger levels high among South Asian female employees

Southeast Asia’s job market looks robust

Regionally, there is a slightly higher percentage of employees that are thriving at work with daily stress levels of employees being lower than the global average. Six out of ten employees in Southeast Asia believe that it is now a good time to find a job.

Exhibit 5: Most think now is a good time to find a job in Southeast Asia

Employees from Laos, followed by Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines consider now a good time to find a job. Quite surprisingly, employees from developed economies in the region such as Singapore and Thailand think otherwise.

Exhibit 6: Favourable job climate in developing economies in the region

Going forward

There have been some positive trends in Asia, but there’s still a lot of work to do. Employers should start by focusing on employees that are showing high potential for growth and career development. Companies should also make a few positive changes to their workplace to increase the engagement quotient among workers.

Most importantly, employers should appoint better managers who can effectively coach, mentor and improve individual employee engagement, resulting in better outcomes for the team and for the organisation. These can help promote greater employee wellbeing, incentivise employees to approach work with more enthusiasm, and create a progressive company culture where everyone has a chance to thrive and succeed.

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