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Malaysia’s Workers Just Want Better Jobs Or We’ll Quit

Malaysia’s Workers Just Want Better Jobs Or We’ll Quit

Three years ago, it was an employer’s market. Now, it’s the employee’s market.

Anne Dorall

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The Malaysian workforce is changing: people are getting tired of being underpaid and overworked. In the past years, more people have made the move to quit their jobs and look for better opportunities elsewhere.

20% of the workforce plans to change jobs during this time, a much higher number than the 15% reported in 2021.

While we’ve heard of “The Great Resignation” happening overseas in countries like the United States, does that apply here in Malaysia?

Many Malaysians have left their previous jobs or are thinking of changing jobs.
(Credit: Envato)

We asked CEO Domenic Colasante and Managing Director & Chief People Officer Yong Siew Mee of 2X, a B2B driven digital marketing specialist that services the US market that has grown threefold in staff in two years, on insights as to how they manage to retain and draw in so many employees during this time.

Does Malaysia actually have a “Great Resignation” phenomenon?

The simple answer is no, says Yong.

The long answer is well, no, but that doesn’t mean Malaysian employees aren’t demanding better working conditions from their place of work.

Malaysian workers are looking for better companies; from a cultural and support perspective, to the ease of work and higher levels of trust from their managers.

Yong Siew Mee, Managing Director & Chief People Officer of 2X to TRP

Malaysia’s employment shifts should be seen more as a “great reshuffling” instead. Unlike in the US, where droves of skilled talent are leaving the workforce entirely, Malaysians are looking to their employers for positive change, and if they don’t like what they see, they look elsewhere.

Left: CEO Domenic Colasante and right: Managing Director & Chief People Officer Yong Siew Mee of 2X.
(Credit: TRP)

In Malaysia, the workers are not giving up working for a boss. They are just looking for better bosses.

Yong Siew Mee, Managing Director & Chief People Officer of 2X to TRP

Three years ago, it was the employer’s market. Now, it’s the job-seeker’s market. And while some employers may grumble about it, this also gives them the opportunity to simply be better employers.

So what exactly are Malaysians asking for?

One of the key things the pandemic has proven is that not all industries or jobs are resilient against recession or unexpected emergencies. While some industries suffered greatly, others flourished.

People have been shocked by the impact of job losses and shutdowns. Some companies managed to pivot by moving online or changing their business entirely, others did not survive.

The lucky ones got to WFH. The not-so-lucky ones lost their jobs.
(Credit: Freepik)

As such, most Malaysians are looking for security in their employability. It’s no longer wanting just a permanent position, but also being one step ahead and prepared for the future. It’s about constant upskilling and learning, so that they are capable to pivot into other industries or roles as neccessary.

I think job-seekers are wiser now. They can discern that certain industries are very resilient, and others less so. So they want that security and resilience against things like recession and inflation.

Yong Siew Mee, Managing Director & Chief People Officer of 2X to TRP

So what should companies do?

For 2X, the answer is simple: they invest heavily in their people.

There is a philosophical difference in the way we think about productivity and trust. Our job as an employer is to enable (our employees) with the skills they need and give them the ownership to do what’s best.

Yong Siew Mee, Managing Director & Chief People Officer of 2X to TRP

Instead of pushing and micromanaging their employees to operate at peak performance all the time, the organization emphasizes the importance of learning for future-proofing.

2X employees enjoy a game of ping pong in the afternoon at their office.
(Credit: TRP)

For Domenic, top talent that performs excellent work isn’t everything. Growth and transformation should also be prioritized.

He encourages all his employees to continue learning new skills, and the company reflects this with plenty of training modules, collaborative learning, and even international rotation programs to the US.

We need to balance the performance-driven culture and growth culture. Diversity of thought, being able to think and look at problems differently, is also hugely beneficial.

Domenic Colasante, CEO of 2X to TRP

Instead of “yes men” (employees who simply agree with whatever their boss says), 2X encourages – and trains — their employees to speak up and highlight issues they find.

Any problem, whether it’s work related or lifestyle related. Even if it’s complaining about back pain during WFH. (2X bought their WFH employees ergonomic furniture.)

Who else has chronic backpain after a few years of WFH?
(Credit: Envato)

Employees solve client problems. Managers solve employee problems.

Domenic Colasante, CEO of 2X to TRP

Ultimately, companies need to learn that their employees are their greatest asset and provide any and all opportunities for their workers to grow, learn, adapt, and succeed. After all, their success is the company’s gain.

Bosses should be a resource that helps you become a better version of yourself. They won’t let you drown.

Yong Siew Mee, Managing Director & Chief People Officer of 2X to TRP

The pair’s final advice for Malaysian workers is simply “don’t settle”.

Don’t settle for an unsatisfactory interview, don’t settle for bad bosses, don’t settle for miserly pay, don’t settle for jobs that don’t make you happy.

They believe that there is always a good company out there that will treat employees with respect. (For them, this is 2X.)

CEO Domenic Colasante and Managing Director & Chief People Officer Yong Siew Mee are eager to expand 2X further.
(Credit: TRP)

Ask yourself: Is work fun?

Domenic Colasante, CEO of 2X to TRP

Visit their website for more information on 2X and their various open job positions. (In the words of Domenic and Siew Mee, “We’re always hiring and we need more people.”)


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