Smart Investor Malaysia


A “Not-So-Great” Resignation: 39% Of Professionals In Malaysia Who Have Thought Of Resigning In The Past Year Didn’t Leave Their Jobs


The much-publicised ‘Great Resignation’ appears to be more muted in Southeast Asia, based on the latest survey from global recruitment firm Robert Walters.

Professionals in the region are valuing job security during uncertain times, with more than half (59%) indicating that they are uncomfortable to quit without a new job offer, and 81% of those who have thought of resigning are willing to change their minds, if conditions are right.

In addition to job security, professionals in Malaysia highly value salary package, good leadership and healthy workplace culture. These are contributing factors that will retain talent.

Hiring new talent remains challenging in Southeast Asia, especially in Malaysia which saw 83% of companies finding it more difficult to do so in the past year. High expectation on salary and benefits was cited as one of the biggest challenges for sourcing talent, at 66%.

These are among the key findings of the Robert Walters Great Resignation Reality Check that canvassed the insights of over 2,600 professionals and more than 1,100 companies, to better understand the attitudes held towards resignations, staff turnover situations, and unlock retention motivators. It was conducted in June 2022 and spanned six Southeast Asian countries (Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam).

Job-switching instead of resignations While 79% of professionals surveyed across Southeast Asia had the intention to resign in 2021, close to half (42%) have yet to do so.

Malaysia saw the most professionals (82%) who have thought of quitting their job in the past year, followed by Singapore (80%) and Thailand (80%). However, 62% of professionals in Malaysia will not quit without a better opportunity lined up, just slightly behind Singapore (64%).

“Rather than a ‘Great Resignation’, businesses can expect an accelerated hiring market across Southeast Asia in the coming year. Professionals are not quitting on a whim, but rather, they are looking to move between jobs. In the face of a possible recession, we expect more cautious professionals, who would only move when they have another job offer on hand,” said Gerrit Bouckaert, Managing Director, SEA, Robert Walters.

Malaysia: Positive work culture including good leadership, and flexible work arrangements are highly favoured by employees

Of the 82% professionals in Malaysia who considered resigning in the past year, 39% eventually stayed on because they have not found a new job yet (58%), are uncertain over new workplace’s culture and suitability (26%), and are concerned about job security at a new company (25%).

About 4 in 5 professionals (81%) would reconsider their intention of resigning if conditions are right. While salary increment continues to be the main determinant, changed job responsibilities (26%) and a change of leadership (24%) are the other crucial factors that will make them change their minds.

In view of this, employers have stepped up efforts in taking necessary measures to retain staff, such as matching or increasing salaries (58%), offering training and upskilling opportunities (56%) and providing a clear pathway for career development (44%). However, almost half of the professionals (45%) mentioned that they were not aware of changes made by their employers, indicating a gap in the retention initiatives by employers.

A staggering 86% professionals also revealed that they have re-evaluated their other life aspects when it comes to career, now prioritising their mental and physical wellbeing (76%). Other notable areas include time spent with their loved ones (70%), and the meaning/fulfillment of their jobs (68%).

This corresponds to this year’s findings by Malaysian Employers Federation, noting that many employers are now adopting Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs) to cater to employees’ evolving needs such as having work-life balance, physical and emotional health.

Apart from work flexibility, colleagues and culture that inspire employees to do their best are what professionals value most in an employer (43%). This ranked slightly above compensation and perks (41%).

Other findings include:

  • In addition to high salary and benefit expectations (66%), high competition for candidates (55%) and lacking industry experience (44%) are the biggest challenges employers face when hiring talent.
  • 87% of companies think employee turnover/resignations in their organisations have increased in the past year.
Ai Rene Tan, Country Manager of Robert Walters Malaysia

Ai Rene Tan, Country Manager of Robert Walters Malaysia comments:

“Positive employee experiences have never been more important in today’s work environment. Recognising and rewarding strong talent, job security and meeting employees’ desire for better well-being are important to attract and retain talent. Good leadership and positive workplace culture will also make a critical difference in the hiring of new talent.”

To find out more about Robert Walters in Malaysia, please visit

About Robert Walters

Robert Walters is one of the world’s leading specialist professional recruitment consultancies and focuses on placing high-calibre professionals into permanent, contract and temporary positions at all levels of seniority. The Malaysia office specialises in placing candidates on a permanent basis in the following disciplines and industries: accountancy & finance, banking & financial services, executive search & senior management, engineering & manufacturing, human resources, tech & transformation, legal & corporate secretarial, sales & marketing, healthcare & life sciences and supply chain, procurement & logistics. Established in 1985, the Group has built a global presence spanning 31 countries and regions.

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