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Why it’s still tough retaining financial services people in Asia – yes, even in this market

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People in banking and finance aren’t leaving their jobs in droves in the current economic climate. Cindy Tan, director, Captiv8 Talent, says most employees won’t voluntarily resign, unlike in the same period last year when the outlook was rosier.

That said, there are still people in Asia who are thinking of quitting even if they haven’t actually done so yet. This then begs the question ‘why?’

The reasons vary according to employee age; 35 is the typical cut-off point. Tan says younger professionals below this age, usually resign because they want a bigger role with a better title and broader scope, so as to challenge themselves. Older ones tend to quit because of a desire for better hours, less corporate politics, a less stressful job and a more understanding boss.

Employees also think of leaving because they are grappling with heavier work loads, thanks to recent restructuring. Firms are under resourced and everyone is expected to do more, says Suan Wei Yeo, director, Profile Search & Selection in Singapore. In addition, career paths may not be as clearly defined in the current market, given the tough global economic climate. “In some organisations where there isn’t much mentoring, employees may think of seeking their fortunes elsewhere.”

How to keep your people

So what can employers do to retain staff then? Tan suggests: “For the young employees give them more stretched assignments and a faster career track with clear KPIs. Many organisations have a career track, but this may not clearly spell out how they can move from one level to the next. The Gen Ys want to know exactly how they can progress.” As for older staff, firms could provide for more work-life balance by allowing flexible hours, sabbatical options, part-time employment or even working from home, she adds.

Derek Kenny, director, Gulf Connexions Group, Hong Kong, agrees: “I’m a big believer in offering employees flexibility and focussing on their productivity, not just the hours that they’re at their desk. If you look at Google for instance, walking into their offices anywhere in the world, you would think the staff are on holiday enjoying themselves. Maybe happy people make more productive workers.”

Building your employer brand and differentiating your firm from others is also particularly crucial during these tough times where firms are finding it difficult to use money as an incentive, says Suan. Another retention factor is that “people work for people”. “We see people who are interested in leaving or staying because of a particular person or persons that they have worked with, so firms need to cultivate relationships and loyalty.”

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