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How to keep millennials engaged at the workplace: An interview with Prashant Chadha, Aon Hewitt Malaysia's managing director
Michael Page speaks to Prashant Chadha, managing director at Aon Hewitt in Malaysia about the shift towards employee engagement and retention in Malaysia. He shares some best practices for retention strategies and sheds light on key human resources trends.
1. How is retention a challenge for Malaysian companies?
It’s no secret that Malaysia is an employee’s market. Retaining employees has always been a challenge and retaining top talent is even more challenging.
As reported in our Aon Hewitt Best Employers research, employees are no longer staying in their jobs solely based on company rewards. Employee retention is now based on a mosaic of drivers that include career opportunities, senior leadership direction and non-monetary recognition.
To keep up with the changing currents, organisations will likely need to step up their game by creating a difficult-to-replicate competitive advantage. Creating a distinct employee value proposition (EVP), people culture and having effective talent management are some ideas companies can consider.
2. Has this challenge increased in recent years?
Yes, not just within Malaysia but globally too. The playing field has now become more accessible. Employees now enjoy real-time access to information about other organisations’ brand presence, culture, best practices and talent management within and outside Malaysia.
This increased access to information means that it is necessary for organisations to stand out in order to attract and retain the right talent pool. The first step is to understand where you can find, or source for, your desired talent pool.
Organisations will also need to build a culture that synergises employer promise, transparency in communication and purpose. Effective two-way communication between an organisation and its employees may also successfully identify effective retention measures and the reasons behind employees’ attrition.
3. Are millennials a cause of retention issues faced by companies?
Millennials are a tech-savvy, fast-moving generation. Their expectations of speed are only a reflection on how they operate. Today, millennials are perhaps the least engaged part of the workforce and most prone to attrition. They apply a ‘here and now’ philosophy to their careers. Organisations will need to constantly engage these millennials and recognise their value.
According to the 2015 Aon Hewitt Workforce Mindset Study, millennials value and seek work-home balance, employee recognition, loyalty, respect and open communication. Organisations need to go beyond the usual tools of engagement, harness a digital mindset, and introduce tailored programmes to harmonise the needs of different generations.
If organisations fail to act fast, they run the risk of losing some of these young bright sparks.
4. What are some of the retention strategies employed by Aon Hewitt?
Aon retains employees by creating a “workplace of choice” through focusing on high employee engagement, building a compelling employer brand, effective leadership and high performance culture.
We focus on the right engagement drivers using Aon’s engagement survey tool to prioritise and continuously engage Aon colleagues. These drivers are incorporated in our Employee Value Proposition (EVP) to close the gap of brand perception between Aon and Aon employees.
Our leaders value our people and focus on customised developmental programmes to grow our employees and deliver our employer promise. High performing employees are rewarded and recognised for their contributions through an additional rewards pool as well as high visibility projects.
Our counsel to organisations is that a highly engaged workforce will reduce employee turnover and improve customer satisfaction, which will lead to desired business results.
5. Which organisations in Malaysia are leading the way with innovative retention strategies, and why are their strategies effective?
They would definitely be among the Best Employers. The list includes Starbucks, American Express, DHL, Eco World, FedEx Express, Holiday Inn, Marriott, S P Setia, Sime Darby Property and McDonald’s.
What these organisations have in common is their ability to incorporate retention strategies into their organisation goals and culture. Their leaders are committed to the people, and acknowledge the value that people investment can bring to the business growth.
6. Key HR predictions in 2016?
Through the Aon Hewitt Best Employers research, we have observed that there will be a/an:
- Rise of tailored programmes that foster employee engagement: As an employee segment, Generation Y is one of the least engaged and most difficult to retain in the workforce. However, Best Employers in Malaysia have successfully retained their top talents through tailored HR programmes, producing engagement scores that are higher than the market average.
- Continued need for a compelling employer brand: Organisations will continue to face the challenge of having their employer promise diluted by a poor employer brand perception. These organisations will need to develop, implement and effectively articulate their EVP — a move which has been proven to be effective in employee retention.
- Increased focus on effective leadership: Best Employers typically emphasise the need to invest in their leaders as engaged leaders typically drive higher employee engagement. Organisations will need to develop leaders through customised succession and high-potential development programmes that apply to different career stages.
- Building of a high-performance culture: Effective performance management will often lead to a high performance culture and superior business results. Such a culture is often driven by managers who are able to articulate the right expectations for their teams and develop their people well. This performance culture is often complemented by robust career development and differentiated rewards programmes.
7. How do you engage and motivate your own employees?
Our strategy is a combination of “measure, prioritise and action” to ensure a balance between employees and organisation aspirations. We first measure our employees’ engagement level through an internal Aon engagement survey and then identify key engagement drivers before initiating any action plans. We hear the voices of our employees and take their personal growth seriously.
Our leaders make it a point to develop our colleagues based on each individual’s career aspirations and competencies. Keeping to the Aon culture, we keep employees motivated with great learning opportunities and exposure to other Aon businesses, locally and overseas.
We also encourage our employees to manage their own careers. While this may sound daunting, this journey is one that both senior management and employees undertake together with the common goal of bringing growth to both employees and Aon. This is the essence of Aon United!