Firms in S-E Asia score poorly on level of preparedness: Survey

Firms in South-east Asia face a critical mismatch between the values they think they need for business success, and their readiness to implement those values, a new survey has found.

A total of 57 businesses in the region were asked to rate the importance of 10 core HR values on a scale of zero to 100, as well as assess their readiness to deliver these values on the same scale.

Deloitte measured the difference between the two scores and found wide gaps in every category, representing low levels of preparedness.

For example, the average level of importance given to leadership as a value was 82, while the average level of readiness was 41 - a 41-point gap.

The gap for workforce capability was 43 points.

Leadership and workforce capability were the two biggest concerns in South-east Asia.

Deloitte Consulting executive director Nicky Wakefield, who also leads the South-east Asia human capital team, said that these gaps across the board are alarming.

The issues are just as important for South-east Asia as for they are globally, she said.

However, she added: "South-east Asia's level of readiness is much lower than the rest of the world's."

What is more alarming, she said, is that the capability gap in South-east Asia has widened since the survey was first conducted last year. She sees this as having dire implications for the region's competitiveness.

"South-east Asia is going to have to run hard and run fast in order to catch up, and the capability of human resources is going to have a significant role to play in helping it catch up," she said.

Even Singapore, typically aligned with developed economies, has more in common with the region's emerging markets, she said. "I would've thought the level of maturity of human resources would've been more like that in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia... rather than in that in Indonesia, Malaysia, et cetera."

She attributed this to the fact that investment in human resources practices has not kept pace with the growth of the business environment.

Mr Jason Seng, Singapore-based leader for Deloitte's South-east Asia human capital practice, said companies here need to move away from annual reviews that are compensation-linked autopsies of staff performance, and instead focus on year-round training and bonuses.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 05, 2015, with the headline 'Firms in S-E Asia score poorly on level of preparedness: Survey'. Subscribe