Human Resource

What Will Change When the Power Dynamics Shift Back from Employees to Employers?

In the last couple of years, and especially since the pandemic began, many employers have made some great strides in terms of technological adoption, as well as flexibility, pay, and even benefits and perks offered.

This is especially amid the Great Resignation phenomenon and talent crunch that are plaguing many organisations, as well as increasing expectations from talents, leading employers to increase their talent retention programmes tenfold. It has even been suggested that employees are holding the power in the job market right now.

Almost everywhere in the world, businesses started offering remote and hybrid work choices. Many are also offering flexibility, which allows people to decide when and where they’d like to work. There has been an increase in digital nomads too, and focus and resources were directed to mental health, emotional well-being, work-life balance and avoiding burnout.

In Malaysia itself, the Government has made several significant policy changes in order to address the many issues surrounding employment – more recently, the shortening of weekly working hours from 48 hours to 45 hours, and allowing employees to request a Flexible Working Arrangement (FWA) from their employers.

Working Women

This would allow them to work from home during emergencies and would enable them to choose the location, time, and days of their work.

However, some groups and unions such as the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) have been reported to have urged the government to delay implementing the amendments as it could cost employers nationwide an extra RM110.99 billion per year.

This is especially as some employers were already struggling to fully implement the new minimum wage of RM1,500 per month that took effect in May, which was estimated to cost them an additional RM14 billion per year.

Further, as inflation raged, along with other geopolitical and macro events, many companies are struggling to get back on track especially as they are still in the midst of recovering from the effects of the pandemic. As a result, soon we might be seeing another power dynamic shift from employees back to employers.

When this happens, will employers still offer flexibility, perks, pay and programs, and will they still invest in a people-first culture?

First of all, there will definitely be changes, especially in terms of flexibility. For many managers and supervisors, it’s easier for them to have everyone under one roof, not to mention that overseeing a distributed workforce across the nation and in other countries is a challenging feat.

Employees might need to adjust their expectations when it comes to flexible working arrangements. However, the lessons that we have all learned from the last couple of years and the focus on better work for employees will most likely remain.

Human Resource

Embracing Change for Greater Flexibility

Malaysia’s Employment Act has recently been amended to reduce working hours from 48 hours to 45 hours as of 1 September 2022. It protects workers’ welfare, as mandated by the ILO Convention.

The announcement has been received differently by various groups and unions. Some say this regulation will allow employees to rest and improve their health, which will lead to a higher quality of work. Others say it will cause companies operating 24/7 to be unable to recover from the pandemic.

It might also be worth mentioning that these amendments would also allow employees to work flexible hours, which would enable them to choose the location, time, and days of their work, as well as allow them to work from home during emergencies, such as the Covid-19 outbreak.

The employee will need to request a flexible working arrangement from their employer; either in terms of their working hours, working days, or changing their location, in writing. Afterward, the employer will have 60 days to respond, stating whether or not the application has been approved.

Work From Home


About 62 percent of Malaysian full-time workers prefer flexibility over a four-day working week, according to an online survey by Qualtrics. In fact, about 60 percent of the Southeast Asian region agrees with this result. Employees who work flexible hours report less stress and burnout, helping them to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Work Together

Some companies, however, are not willing to allow this, even if the nature of their operations does not require their employees to be in the office five or six days a week. Since the Movement Control Order has been relaxed, traffic jams have increased massively during peak hours following the return of employees to work.

Due to the newness of flexible working in Malaysian companies, serious problems can arise without the appropriate policies in place. Employers may feel uneasy about trusting their employees who work remotely, and it can also be challenging to track their productivity. Additionally, remote work can cause employees to feel overworked since work and life are blurred together.

For Malaysian companies, these amendments might be a good start toward creating a culture that encourages flexible work arrangements. It will also enable them to embrace the mindset change required to make flexible working arrangements possible and beneficial.

Professional Development

By reforming TVET, employment opportunities can be created

The Small and Medium Enterprises Association of Malaysia (Samenta) recently shared in an article published by The Edge that Malaysian SMEs need between one million and 1.5 million workers.

Malaysia is experiencing a shortage of skilled workers, especially since some of the foreign workers trained by the industry have been sent back home. A lot of locals, on the other hand, have either found opportunities in the gig economy or switched to other industries to make ends meet during the numerous Movement Control Orders.

Malaysia is not the only country experiencing this problem, even developed nations are experiencing the same problem, as reported by the Virtual Conference Report on Improving the Image of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) by UNESCO.

In the UK, for example, participation in courses for advanced technical skills is declining, while German enterprises are having difficulty finding qualified candidates for apprenticeships. As a result, companies are competing to hire such apprentices. Even since 1998, South Korea has struggled to attract young people to the manufacturing sector that sustains its economy.

Presentation in Recruitment agency

It has been suggested that we increase our reliance on TVET graduates, especially since their skills are required for operations that require automation and technological transformation.

Employees Walking

It was also stated in the same article that fragmented TVET delivery, the stigma surrounding TVET as a second-class education reserved for academically weak individuals, and poor perception of the industry is hindering the progress to reframe technical work as a credible career.

We cannot continue like this, as Malaysia needs highly skilled workers to fill the current gap between supply and demand across various industries, especially as we prepare for an economic transformation towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

In an age of technological transformations, TVET programmes also need to be restructured and futureproofed to prepare workers for the constantly evolving world of work.

We must ensure that quality graduates can meet the needs of the industry, earn a decent wage, and create jobs through TVET if we are to bridge the gap and meet industry demand.

Professional Development

Future-proofing employment with digital skills

The digital revolution is transforming the workplace, especially with the development of various digital tools that help complete traditional tasks. We will see a very different way of working in a few years. This has also affected the skills people need to work.

According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia’s Graduate Statistics 2021, released on Wednesday, 28 July 2022, the number of graduates in Malaysia in 2021 increased by 4.7% to 5.61 million, up from 5.36 million in 2020.

The number of students entering the workforce will likely increase in the future, making it more and more important for students to be prepared for the world of work they will enter.

Additionally, those already employed need to be equipped with the skills needed for the future to cope with the fast-paced, innovative nature of the digital world. Dell Technologies, in collaboration with Institute for the Future (IFTF), has even predicted that 85% of the jobs that will be available in 2030 don’t yet exist!

For many years now, basic digital skills have been crucial for employment. However, to effectively prepare employees for success, just implementing any training modules or digital programmes without proper planning is insufficient. We must also start implementing a holistic and powerful future skills forecasting system.

To be able to do this, businesses and educational institutions need to work closely to identify what digital skills are needed in the future. This will also help prevent further shortages of digital skills.

It is especially important in light of the recent shift to a more digital workplace and remote working, where there has been a huge increase in the number of positions available for those with advanced skillsets, such as software developers and engineers.

To effectively upskill and reskill their workforce, businesses and organisations need to learn how to identify the gaps in their workforce’s skills.

A shift in attitude and mindset is also required, where learning should no longer be seen as something that has to be done as and when it is needed. With the advent of online learning and wide access to various online courses, learning should be viewed as a lifelong endeavour.

In the end, it’s important to know that work will continue to change. Even though we might not be able to predict exactly how it will change, it is still imperative that we lay the groundwork now so we can continue to benefit from the digital revolution.