Reversing the great resignation: What employees in Indonesia really want

Although nine in 10 employees said they are motivated and proud of what they do, only 67 percent indicated they are likely to stay in their jobs in a survey of over 23,200 employees.

Isdar Marwan

Isdar Marwan

The Jakarta Post


Ethan Bernstein, an associate professor of organizational behavior, utilized empirical evidence to prove that open, communal working spaces go against both productivity and happiness. (Shutterstock/File)

March 11, 2022

JAKARTA – The great resignation has affected businesses and economies throughout Asia and Indonesia is no exception. As employee expectations and needs continue to evolve in the face of the pandemic, organizations need to place employee experience at the top of their agenda.

Based on Mercer’s data collected from more than 23,200 employees in Indonesia, employee engagement scores in Indonesia continue to exceed the Asia Pacific and global averages, except for the employees’ intent to stay.

Although nine in 10 employees said they are motivated and proud of what they do, only 67 percent indicated they are likely to stay in their jobs, a reflection of the lack of perceived career growth opportunities in their current organizations.

The stressors of the pandemic and limited career advancement have emerged as primary drivers of higher-than-usual attrition levels. About 30 percent of the employees surveyed feel that they cannot meet their career goals in the company they are in, while one in four say they cannot maintain a reasonable work-life balance.

Disrupted routines, demanding workloads, along with the blurred lines of work and home, have clearly taken a toll. Research from the University of Indonesia last year found that employees reported difficulties in making decisions, challenges in concentration as well as dissatisfaction with their lives as result of the growing stress and strain.

As such, this calls for a new approach from employers, to pause and consider immediate priorities and the valuable tools they have, to rebuild employee loyalty in 2022.

With the lack of upskilling opportunities limiting their potential to develop and grow, mid-career professionals in their 30s who have more than half of their work lives ahead of them, are the least likely to stay in their jobs.

There also seems to be a gap in employee expectations for career advancement in Indonesia vis-à-vis the global workforce. Taking compensation and benefits out of the equation, these middle managers believe they can seek better and greater opportunities outside of their current organization, hence they often choose not to stay.

Therefore, companies should take more active steps to connect with their employees to make their career goals real. This could mean introducing clear career paths, talent matching platforms for employees to temporarily take on new projects or implementing cross-function rotation programs. Companies should also develop their employees through upskilling and reskilling based on their assessment of existing and future skills needed by their organization.

The dynamics of employer-employee relationships have evolved in response to the pandemic, with growing demands for flexibility when it comes to the health and happiness of their employees. Employee well-being is a critical stress point, now more than ever, and this is where employers need to pay attention.

Employees in Indonesia reported feeling overworked and burdened by their job-related responsibilities. In fact, one in four employees highlighted that the amount of work that is expected of them is unreasonable.

Managers are therefore crucial pillars of support and play an important role in spotting employees who may be struggling. Companies should provide more support to managers to understand the meaning of holistic well-being which can help them develop soft skills, improve communication and make a difference to employees.

The pandemic is prompting many employees to rethink what they value in their lives and jobs, and employers need to listen. While it is encouraging to see more organizations increasing their employee listening efforts, they need to truly connect with a diverse range of employee aspirations and translate feedback into meaningful action. Well-being, digital transformation for efficiency and reskilling for better career advancement need to be critical priorities.

Understanding the employee experience requires a holistic approach to manage the expectations, environment, and events that shape an employee’s journey with the organization. There could be particular experiences, such as flexible working policies which are creating friction for particular employees, like working parents, who may need greater clarity around working hours and choices they can make.

Digital tools like pulse surveys or digital focus groups can also be organized more regularly to spot patterns and identify priority areas for employers to take targeted and informed actions which resonate with their employees.

Employees want more from their work and workplaces in 2022 and nods to employee-well-being are no longer enough. Today’s employees are as driven by company culture, work-life balance and growth opportunities as they are by salary. While fair pay is a hygiene factor, throwing money into financial incentives does not necessarily bring back the energy that makes work more engaging and rewarding for employees.

There is no perfect playbook and no one-size-fits-all solution. Employers need to keep employees involved every step of the way to reinvent and shape new experiences that will help build resilient people and resilient businesses in this new shape of work.

scroll to top