Poll: Two in three Malaysians pick happiness over salaries, job titles

The Kelly Global Workforce Index (KGWI) survey found that 67 per cent of workers polled in Malaysia said a career that centres on work-life balance interested them more than a fat paycheck. — Reuters pic
The Kelly Global Workforce Index (KGWI) survey found that 67 per cent of workers polled in Malaysia said a career that centres on work-life balance interested them more than a fat paycheck. — Reuters pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 — Malaysians are more interested in a happier work-life balance than securing higher salaries or career advancement opportunities, according to a recent survey by global recruitment firm Kelly Services.

The Kelly Global Workforce Index (KGWI) survey found that 67 per cent of workers polled in Malaysia said a career that centres on work-life balance interested them more than a fat paycheck.

The survey found that on the aspect of work-life balance, Malaysians are more comparable to China than Singapore, with 65 per cent of respondents from the former nation saying that they also prefer happy lifestyles to fancy job titles and high salaries.

In Singapore, however, the survey found that 57 per cent of respondents felt the complete opposite.

In Thailand, a sizeable 76 per cent of respondents said they would choose a happy lifestyle over a good career.

About 54 per cent of Malaysians are also likely to give up higher salaries for a more flexible work schedule, compared to 45 per cent in Singapore and 38 per cent in China.

Malaysians are, however, selective about company reputation, with 68 per cent preferring to work for a global company, while only five per cent said they would prefer working for a national or regional firm.

“There is a strong preference for employers with an established track record, and reluctance to work for start-up businesses and ‘micropreneurs’,” said managing director of Kelly Services Malaysia Melissa Norman in a statement accompanying the survey findings.

In line with an increasingly mobile Asia-Pacific workforce, the survey found that 78 per cent are willing to move for their jobs, while 87 per cent of workers in Malaysia said they would consider moving either within Malaysia or outside Malaysia for the right employment.

The KGWI surveyed approximately 230,000 people across 31 countries in the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific regions.

Titled “Worker Preferences and Workplace Agility”, the KGWI survey looked at what employees think about in terms of their careers and what employers can do to help workers meet their career goals, and to stay motivated and engaged at work.

Overall, in the Asia-Pacific region, 65 per cent of those surveyed said they would consider passing over a promotion for improved work-life balance.

Forty-eight per cent said they would do the same in exchange for a more flexible work schedule, while 37 per cent chose sacrificing career advancement for an opportunity to perform more socially conscious work.

“While there’s no mistaking that pay is a key driver of employee attraction and retention, workers also value their professional growth and personal fulfilment, and are often willing to make sacrifices to achieve them,” said Norman.

When it comes to management style, employees said they prefer collaboration, teamwork and flexible work arrangements, and were generally turned off by highly individualised structures and traditional “nine-to-five” schedules.

The survey also canvassed employee views about the preferred organisations to work for in terms of size, geographic presence and style of management.

“With a strong brand name and corporate image, global companies possess the resources and capital to offer their employees job stability and a standard set of operating procedures which have been tried and tested over the years. This attracts jobseekers,” Norman added.

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