Mar 20, 2017

When employees get work-life balance by default

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EARLIER this week, a long conversation with Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) president and chief executive officer (CEO) Datuk Abdul Farid Alias ended with an interesting topic – retiring healthy.

The CEO of Malaysia’s biggest bank wants to inculcate a culture of healthy eating and living among his colleagues.

Like many other established brick-and-mortar organisations, Maybank has many who have served the bank their entire working life.

The financial institution is probably their “first” home.

Financially, bankers are generally comfortable by the time they retire.

The remuneration, retirement benefits and share options often leave a banker financially sound when they call it a day. But whether they retire healthy is something else altogether.

The question that often crops up when somebody retires sick is whether the employer has facilitated an environment that emphasises on a healthy work-life balance.

When an employee falls gravely ill early, the question of not being able to maintain a healthy work-life balance crops up.

However, a survey of human resource issues revealed that most employees stay on their jobs because they are happy with the work-life balance.

Wages do not determine their long-term stay with the company.

The startling results are one of the many findings of the 2017 Hays Salary Guide. The survey involved 3,000 companies employing six million people across five countries in this part of the world.

Interestingly, 40% of the employees in Malaysia stay on because of work-life balance.

Salaries and the benefits tied to the job or career progression came in second- and third-best reason respectively as to why they chose to remain with the company.

The trend is similar in Singapore and Hong Kong. In Singapore, 47% of the employees stay on because of work-life balance, while in Hong Kong, it is 41%.

Singapore employees ranked salaries and benefits that they receive as the second-most important factor to remain with the company ahead of career progression, while in Hong Kong, employees place almost equal importance on both the aspects of work.

Interestingly, in China, employees cite job security as the main driver for them to stay on with a company.

Salaries and benefits are the second-most important factor, while work-life balance and location of the company are less important on their list.

True to Japan’s culture of creating a workforce that competes for a share of the pie on the global stage, its employees place career progression as the main reason why they stay on.

Work-life balance is ranked fourth among the nine reasons that are cited in the survey. Japanese employees find the remuneration package they receive and job security as more important aspects for them to stay rather than getting work-life balance.

This explains why a young management executive in Dentsu apparently committed suicide due to the work culture and peer pressure of obliging to take on work right into the wee hours of the night and weekends.

Coming back to Malaysia, if an organisation has a large number of long-serving employees, it underlines the fact that the company has a good work-life balance that leads to them staying on.

The advantage of having a large proportion of long-serving employees is that there is stability in the operations and management, as well as a sense of loyalty to the company.

The downside is that it gives birth to complacency among employees.

There is a thin line between employees staying on because of complacency or due to a work environment that offers good work-life balance.

Ultimately, it boils down to whether the company is profitable and the business is growing to mitigate the growing cost of keeping long-serving employees.

If the business is not growing with waning profitability, then it is viewed as the employees having become complacent.

The company needs to cut down on cost and downsizing is the first thing do.

This is the predicament that large brick-and-mortar companies are facing as they take on nimble upstarts which has the technology.

Disruptive technologies are causing the cost of doing business to come down.

From the media to retail and banking sectors, companies find their operating margins narrowing.

The first to feel the effects of disruptive technology are the media companies. Lately, large retailers of clothing and other goods are feeling the heat.

Banking is among the last in the brick-and-mortar business that is coming under threat due to the emergence of financial technology (fintech) companies.

As banking involves the handling of money, the issues such as security in transactions are obstacles for fintech companies as of now.

However, there are many other organisations already feeling the effect from disruptive technologies.

These companies respond with salary cuts or zero increments. For this year, most companies are looking at an average salary hike of 3%.

In many of these companies, the employees, without them realising it, find that work-life balance is the main reason why they stay on.

Salaries have been reduced to playing second fiddle by default because companies cannot afford high salaries or hefty increments anymore.

Original source: themalaymail

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