Most Thais want to quit their job but don’t

The “Great Resignation” is the biggest trend in the employment market resulting from COVID-19, for Western countries at least. For Thailand and others in this region, however, while resignation certainly and frequently crosses people’s minds, they just don’t put it into action. This is according to the latest survey published recently by headhunting company, Robert Walters.

The company conducted the survey in 6 countries, with around 2,600 respondents at the middle management level, and 1,100 companies in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia. The findings are interesting. 78% of the respondents admitted that they want to quit their jobs, but still, most people stay put.

Thailand has one of the largest percentages, only second to Malaysia. 80% of people surveyed in Thailand want to quit their jobs. Only half of them take any action though. They also say they are ready to change their mind if employers are ready to work with them.

“Half of the 80% that want to quit say they haven’t taken any action. They also say they can change their mind if the situation in their workplace changes or employers provide them with something that matches their needs. This might make them stay. So, in Southeast Asia, the trend is that most people are still reluctant to change their job. That might be because, first, they have not found a new job they like. Secondly, they don’t feel comfortable suddenly quitting their job without the next one lined up. Third, in some fields, it is not easy to find an appropriate job, and fourth, it is about security. To move from one organisation to another, because of COVID-19, they consider how secure other companies are. So, even if it is the right job, with good compensation, but it doesn’t not look secure, they may not make the move yet,” Robert Walters Thailand Country Manager, Punyanuch Sirisawadwattana explained.

The key finding about Thailand is that there is a change in priority when it comes to what people want from their employers. Compensation and benefits used to be the main concern for Thais surveyed. After COVID-19, however, people began to prioritise the working culture and support in the workplace. Punyanuch said that this is because the lockdown made most people acknowledge the importance of a work-life balance and relationships with families.

Working from home makes people realise how important support and understanding from colleagues and supervisors are, and that trumps compensation and salary.

Following working culture and support in the workplace, compensation and benefits remain top, then flexibility in the workplace.

Punyanuch said that, when it comes to the middle management employment market in Thailand, talent has been in short supply for more than 10 years. The gap between supply and demand keeps getting bigger. One of the reasons might also be the demographic structure of the country, which is moving towards an aging society…. fast.

For people who want to change their job, there is a belief that, once people decide to quit, they will not stay, no matter what is offered. Punyanuch said that is actually not true. If the employer is able to detect the atmosphere or the trend in their workplace early enough, and make some adjustments, there is a good chance that those employees will stay. They begin to be more flexible, provide upskill training to employees or increase benefits and compensation to match the current market.

Punyanuch said that the survey also shows that most companies have been trying their best to make adjustments to retain talent, to prevent the great resignation.

Interestingly though, almost half of the people surveyed have not felt any of those changes. Punyanuch said that might be an issue of communication.

Since the great resignation has not happened yet in Southeast Asia, is there a possibility it will happen in the near future? Punyanuch said, judging from the data, it is most unlikely.

“The trend will remain like this. There probably won’t be a big wave, a great resignation, without the next job waiting, or people just leaving to start their own business (like in the west),” said Punyanuch, adding that she believes people in Southeast Asia are looking for some support, at least some security as backup, before they make any decision. This is the big picture. There might be some people who decide to just quit, but that is a small fraction compared to what happened in the US.

By Tulip Naksompop Blauw

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