From the MD: What are the Emerging People Trends for ASEAN and Australia?





The year has progressed quickly and we are at the tail-end of the first quarter. Recently, I wrote a piece on my LI based on a podcast conversation with Fundamento’s CEO Ankit Durga in February. One of the questions was: “What is an emerging trend that I have observed since the beginning of 2023?

At the start and end of each year, there is typically a rush of commentaries and content that is focused on the predictions and trends for the upcoming year. Combing across the platforms, from Harvard Business Review, to Josh Bersin’s Predictions for the Year, Forbes, Gartner, HROnline, McKinsey etc, there are a ton of predictions on what the global trends in the People and Talent space look like. I put together this non-exhaustive list that I have read from across the commentaries:
  • Optimising Hybrid Workforce: Impact on workplace culture, employees experience and teamwork, collaboration & how leaders lead and manage
  • Quiet Hiring, as opposed to Quiet Quitting
  • Employee Well-Being
  • Employee Productivity, in light of rising costs, recession labor shortage and hybrid work
  • Labour Shortage – especially in developed economies in 2023
  • Year of the Line Manager
  • Engaging a Multifaceted (Diverse, Aging, Scarce) Workforce
  • Focus on skills-building – what’s needed for the now and the future
  • Tackling Recession with a People First approach
  • Employee Resilience; Organizational Resilience

The regions in which Great Place To Work® ASEAN and ANZ operate in are diverse, with varying stages of maturity in people practices and a societal view of the workplace culture. The HR and talent struggles will be nuanced across the markets. There are two key markets where I see how focus will be different: the developed economies (e.g. Singapore, Australia) vis-à-vis the developing markets (e.g. Indonesia, Vietnam).

For Developed Markets:

1) Employee Well-Being
In a Great Place To Work® poll with our LinkedIn community across the ASEAN and Australia/New Zealand markets, Employee Well-Being came out as their top people priority for the year. Well-being took the global spotlight during the pandemic for many understandable reasons. There was a rush then by companies to take care of their people’s well-being – more off days, access to mental health programs and resources, financial resources and care-kits etc. We are now past the days of the pandemic, but other sources of stress (inflation, recession, uncertainties, war etc) have continued to emerge. I believe a greater impact comes from addressing well-being at a more fundamental level in areas such as toxic workplace behaviors, increasing workload, maximising productivity, and ways of working in the workplace.
2) Hybrid Work Arrangements

The conversation is still ongoing for this topic. How do we optimise this arrangement and get both leaders and employees to agree on an optimal work arrangement? When management has decided on what optimum looks like, how do we build a strong workplace culture and a sense of belonging for teams who work remotely? What is the style of leadership leaders can adopt and how will people management change? What is the most efficient way of working as people remain dispersed at any one point in time. These are questions for which companies are still working out as they look to attract and retain talent using hybrid work arrangements while meeting business needs.

3) Productivity & Reskilling/Upskilling

The developed economies are seeing the size of their local workforce shrinking. Importing talent is a politically sensitive topic for many countries. It is so for Singapore. The question is always, how do we get more done out of less? The global push towards digitalization to enhance productivity also meant the need for existing workforce to skill up and reskill. The rate of change is intense. Technological tools are evolving and the demands on employees to learn, to skill up, to streamline and innovate on top of existing business needs can prove to be immense.

For Developing Markets:

1) Developing and Upskilling talent

While developing economies like Vietnam and Indonesia have a large supply of labor given the relative youth and size of their domestic population, the challenge lies in skilling up the workforce. The race is in making sure the workforce has the right skill-set to meet the talent needs of businesses in these fast-growing economies, especially in digital skillsets.

2) Engaging a millennial workforce.

Along with a large and young workforce comes the need for leaders to be effective in engaging a millennial workforce. The challenges that companies in developed markets face in engaging younger employees is not unique to these countries. Young people in these developing markets have similar aspirations, and may have a set of motivations that are different from their parents. The speed and effectiveness in which businesses are able to lead and inspire their young workforce will be a key differentiator from their competitors.

What is the Common Focus? Look at your Workplace Culture and Employer Branding

Regardless of the markets that we all operate in, one phenomenon is clear. Companies in general are facing a shortage of skilled labor. There are two priorities that companies will need to pay attention to – that of culture building and employer branding. The need to attract and retain good talent remains.  This necessitates companies to do two things:

– Build up a strong and positive workplace culture
– Be intentional about building a positive and strong employer brand to attract talent.

Employer branding must be anchored on what is real. If employer branding programs are just window dressing efforts, this will do more harm to the reputation of the company in the long run. We have been speaking and meeting with clients in-person in Indonesia, Philippines, Australia and Vietnam and will continue to do so over the next couple of months. Watch this space for exciting updates and events in each of our regions as we continue to empower leaders and organizations to build great workplaces for all.

Yours for greatness,

Evelyn Kwek

P.S. Discover the companies winning on workplace culture and company pride when we announce the inaugural Singapore Best Workplaces™ in Healthcare & Biopharma List 2023. Join us for the announcement on 30 March 2023 at 12PM SGT.



Great Place To Work identifies Best Workplaces in Asia™ by surveying 2.1 million employees in Asia and the Middle East about the key factors that create great workplaces for all and analyzing company workplace programs impacting 5.9 million employees in the region.

To be considered, companies must first be identified as outstanding in their local region by appearing on one or more of our Best Workplaces lists in Bahrain, Greater China (including China, Hong Kong and Taiwan), India, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, UAE, Vietnam during 2022 or early 2023.

Companies rank in three size categories: Small and Medium (10-499 employees); Large (500+); and Multinational. Multinational organizations are also assessed on their efforts to create great workplaces across multiple countries in the region. They must appear on at least two national lists in Asia and the Middle East and have at least 1,000 employees worldwide with at least 40% (or 5,000+) of those employees located outside the headquarters country.

To determine the 2022 Vietnam Best Workplaces™, Great Place To Work®️ analyzed confidential survey feedback representing nearly 20,000 employees across different industries in Vietnam. Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a Great Place To Work For All™️.

85% of the evaluation is based on what employees say about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. Great Place To Work analyzes these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical in their industry. The remaining 15% of the rank is based on an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of innovation, the company’s values, and the effectiveness of their leaders, to ensure they’re consistently experienced.

To be considered, companies had to meet the Great Place To Work-Certified™ standard. To ensure survey results truly represent all employees, Great Place To Work requires that Trust Index©️ survey results are accurate to a 95% confidence level with a 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results. 

Companies with 10-99 people were considered for the Small category, companies with 100-999 people were considered for the Medium category and companies with 1000+ people were considered for the Large category.