Battle looming within region to keep employees on home soil
Falling productivity and workplace performance is still the number one issue keeping Australian business leaders up at night, with a quarter noting it as their major concern, and over half (52%) rating their ability to face the challenge as either average or poor.

In fact, local business leaders are more concerned about workplace productivity than any other country in the region, according to the annual Randstad World of Work Report, with only 17% of businesses in Malaysia, Hong Kong SAR and Singapore noting productivity as a major concern, and 19% of Indian leaders listing it as a primary challenge.

Worryingly, Australians are also the least confident in their ability to overcome productivity challenges in the coming year, with only 5% saying they are in an excellent position to improve workplace performance.

While workforce productivity has been an issue facing business leaders for a number of years, the rapid growth of neighbouring economies means workforce issues need to be a primary focus for business leaders.

As a result of the growth trajectory of Asia-Pacific economies and regional business sectors, the responsibility of local business leaders is to ensure their organisation is a high performing, positive and productive workforce.

The increasing appetite between neighbouring countries for motivated talent further highlights the importance of this. As a response to the growth of opportunities for Australian workers to move within the region, local businesses will need to point their efforts toward keeping talent within the country. Thus, to maintain productivity levels, workforce and talent management must become a major business consideration within the coming year.

The World of Work research, commissioned by Randstad, also highlights a fight for talent could be brewing within the Asia Pacific region.

Managers in China (18%), India (18%), Malaysia (23%), Singapore (22%) and Hong Kong SAR (26%) all noted that finding staff to foster growth plans was the biggest challenge facing their business, and all were confident in their ability to attract employees.

This fact is not lost on local business leaders, with almost two thirds (63%) saying they are concerned about attracting high calibre employees, while 67% say they are worried about their ability to attract talented middle managers into their organisation.

In order to counter this increased competition for workers, organisations need to look at what their employees value in the workplace and ensure these are incorporated into the heart of business and talent management plans.

Employee engagement and satisfaction is a key priority and driver in countering competition amongst workers. This can be achieved through ensuring employees are working in a challenging, rewarding, supportive, and enjoyable environment in which their performance is valued and recognised. 

A pay rise is not always the biggest motivator for employees. If employees are happy to go to work, if they are receiving recognition for their performance, if they are being led by inspirational leaders, if they are able to see a clear career path progression and if they have flexibility at work to be able to cater to personal commitments, engagement and success will naturally follow. 

Randstad’s research shows 63% of Australians respond to flexible working options as the prime consideration in choosing a workplace. Interestingly, training and development programs (54%) as well as leadership opportunities (41%) and sufficient recognition (22%) are among the most important considerations for Australian employees.

Strategic talent management – a game changer for 2014
In a worrying trend, the concern about attracting workers hasn’t led to an increased focus on workforce planning or leadership development, with 82% of businesses saying they only plan their workforce a year or less in advance.

Over half (56%) of businesses admit to devoting 10% or less of their planning time to workforce strategies, while 76% don’t use the latest developments in workforce analytics to source and retain employees.

Businesses need to be more serious about workforce planning, talent analytics and invest in strengthening their employer brand if they are going to remain an attractive proposition in Australia and throughout the region.

It is clear that there are upcoming talent acquisition blockers. Business leaders who want to advantageously differentiate themselves from both local and international competition will start placing higher priority on workforce planning and analytics.

Reluctance to invest time in workforce planning strategies may hinder the ability to attract talented employees to fill pipelines for critical roles and leadership in the future.

Over half (51%) of businesses in Malaysia, 42% in India and 31% of organisations in China spend 30% or more of their planning time considering workforce strategies, and this extra effort could draw high potential employees out of Australia.

Australian companies are no longer the only competition to pose threat. Organisations must continuously keep track of international developments and have a thorough understanding of how these developments may attract talent overseas, away from their operations. 

 Australian businesses must continue to increase efforts toward their strategies if they wish to keep up with the development of workforce planning within the Asia Pacific region. If not, they run the risk of being left behind.