While one in two Malaysians said that they would quit their job if it did not offer them enough career progression opportunities, 55% indicated they would remain in their current role if they were happy with it, even if there was no room to progress or develop.

Data from Randstad Malaysia’s Workmonitor Research highlighted how career ambition has evolved beyond a singular focus and now incorporates a broader emphasis on personal satisfaction and a holistic work experience.

Randstad, the world’s largest talent agency, released its 2024 Workmonitor research in Malaysia.

The research surveyed 517 locally-based employees and job seekers about their career expectations and experiences across four themes: motivation and ambition, flexibility, equity and understanding, and artificial intelligence (AI) & skilling.

Fahad Naeem, Country Director at Randstad Malaysia said, “The labour marketplace in Malaysia has evolved from being a transactional one to an employer’s ability to meet individualistic talent motivations and aspirations.”

“Companies must prioritise effective communication to understand specific needs like flexibility, career advancement, or training opportunities. Adopting a “talent-first” approach addressing personalised employee goals helps businesses differentiate and succeed in the competitive world of work,” he said.

Malaysians are worried about how the economy will impact their job security

Amid economic shifts, one in two Malaysians fear job loss, notably higher among Gen Zers (59%) and Millennials (57%).

Prioritising their job and income stability, 55 per cent of Malaysians said that if they find a role that they like, they will be happy to stay in it even if there is no room for career advancements.

Two in five respondents also said that they are happy where they are and do not want career progression, with Gen Zers (44%) and Millennials (43%) most likely to feel this way.

When thinking about the changing economic landscape, about two in five Malaysians have taken or are taking on second jobs to help with the rising cost of living and worry about economic uncertainty impacting their career progression.

Strong career ambitions in Malaysia, but increasing focus on overall job satisfaction

In Malaysia, 73% consider themselves ambitious, 17% above the global average. Meanwhile, 12% of workers never want to take on any managerial roles.

However, the research indicates that not wanting career progression does not mean employees have no interest in self-improvement,

with more than four in five respondents (81%) ranking training and development opportunities as important when thinking about their current and future employers.

The five most important factors when thinking about their current or future employment are:

  1. Work-life balance (94%) and salary (94%)
  2. Health insurance and healthcare benefits (90%)
  3. Working hours flexibility (89%)
  4. Job security (88%)
  5. Mental health support (87%)

Naeem comments, “While Malaysians are ambitious to seek higher salaries and more prestigious job titles, they balance it with finding employers who can offer a positive experience.”

“Being able to secure a stable work-life balance, having their physical and mental health taken care of by employers, and having the opportunity to upskill could sometimes be more important than doing the same job for a higher salary,” he added.

Skilling opportunities are non-negotiable for talent

Workers continue to prioritise the ‘future-proofing’ of their skills, particularly in light of the widespread adoption of AI. Close to half (47%) of respondents said that they would not accept a job if it did not offer learning and development opportunities to future-proof their skills.

More than one in three respondents said that they would quit their jobs if they were not offered any opportunities to future-proof their skills.

Notably, a significant 43% of Gen Zers would consider quitting a job that does not offer upskilling opportunities, while only 15% of Baby Boomers would take such action.

In Malaysia, 53% of respondents said that it is the employer’s responsibility to train and upskill.

Local respondents are most interested in developing themselves in the following areas:

  1. IT and tech literacy (42%)
  2. Management and leadership skills (29%)
  3. AI (29%)
  4. Data science and analytics (23%)
  5. Communication and presentation skills (22%)

Speaking about the importance of training in talent attraction strategies, Naeem said, “With the arrival of AI in workplaces, employees need to develop different skills, and technology has become crucial.

“The importance of learning opportunities to talent reinforces the desire for partnership between employees and employers. This is now an important factor for employees when choosing a job.”

“Organisations looking to hire will need to share more about their learning and development efforts and outcomes with job seekers to attract the best talent with aligned values,” Naem concluded.


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