What workers want: Australia and Asia compared

From work-life balance to diversity and inclusion, the latest Randstad Employer Brand Research reveals subtle but important differences between the motivations and aspirations of Australian talent and their counterparts in many markets across Asia. So for HR leaders hiring across the APAC region, how are these differing priorities shaping the competition for talent and how can your business come out on top in a talent scarce market.

Ask Australians what they most want from a job, and the resounding answer is work-life balance. 

While you might imagine that the uncertainty emanating from the COVID-19 pandemic would have put job security at the top of the list, work-life balance has consolidated its place as the most important talent attraction for Australians. 

What also comes through from the findings is that the desire for a good work-life balance is largely unmet in Australia and other parts of the Asia-Pacific region. It’s near the bottom of the list of what people taking part in the survey believe that their employer offers, and what companies seek to communicate to potential candidates. We conclude that companies who close this gap will be able to attract and retain the best.

good pay is a given

Good pay is also important for Australians (number two on the list of talent attractions). But in a strong economy it’s pretty much taken for granted, rather than being a differentiator. This is especially in the sectors where competition for talent is most intense such as IT and communications (ITC). Globally, it’s notable that work-life balance rather than pay is the number one reason for choosing an employer among people working in ITC.

asia diverges

A different picture emerges in many of the markets across Asia. In ChinaJapanMalaysiaSingapore, and Hong Kong, pay is the number one attraction for talent, though Like in Australia,India and Singapore (joint first), work-life balance wins the day.

Other big differences between Australia and many parts of the Asia-Pacific region include the importance attached to diversity and inclusion. While diversity and inclusion is not among the top five attributes for attracting talent in Australia, it is much higher up the list than China and Japan. Interestingly, however, India and Singapore are broadly on a par with Australia in the rankings for diversity and inclusion, just as they are for work-life balance, which suggests that there may be a link between these two attributes.

magnet for talent

So, what conclusions can we draw from these varying talent aspirations? Three priorities stand out for employees and job seekers:

1/ strengthen work-life balance 
Work-life balance is a critical though still largely unmet area of talent attraction and employer branding. The need to focus on getting the balance right and communicating this to potential candidates has been heightened by the move to new hybrid ways of working. 

Moreover, work-life balance is more than just flexible working, as important as this can be. Forward-looking businesses are giving staff greater autonomy over how they achieve their objectives. It’s also important to ensure that leaders set an example by embracing this kind or working. Otherwise, employees may feel that it could harm their chances of promotion or being assigned to prestigious projects. 

2/ diversity and inclusion are more important than ever
Travel restrictions both into and within Australia have exacerbated talent gaps in a number of sectors such as construction. Boosting diversity and inclusion would help to broaden the talent pool and bridge these gaps, both in the absence of migrant employees now, and as demand for scarce talent grows in the future. What the research also underlines is that today’s talent increasingly wants to work in diverse and inclusive organisations.

3/ hiring without borders 
The pandemic highlighted the opportunities to work remotely across a number of sectors. It also showed that people can work effectively and collaboratively from almost anywhere, including abroad. The potential to hire people from overseas including Asia has therefore increased. But they expect to be paid well. 

To find out more about what talent wants, download the latest Randstad Employer Brand Research.

about the author

David Owens - HR Partners by Randstad, Managing Director

David is the founder of the HR Partners brand and draws upon 25 years of recruitment industry experience across Australia and the UK. He is actively involved in recruitment activities and plays a substantial role in supporting senior search assignments.

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