Employee engagement critical to SMEs’ post-pandemic recovery

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Small and medium enterprises (SME), which are some of the worst hit by the pandemic, should focus on employee engagement as they prepare for an uptick in demand, according to an industry study.

The SME100 – WTW Employee Experience Study, conducted by Willis Towers Watson and Business Media International, found that SMEs’ employees are generally proud of their companies as they trust the vision of their leaders and understand how their work contributed to broader goals. Hence, three out of five respondents are willing to recommend their company as a good place to work.

However, two-thirds of respondents reported high stress levels. These employees, the study said, are concerned about their financial situation, less-than-ideal working arrangements, as well as the lack of proper enablement and support on a daily basis.

“Our data shows that the ability to build trust and belief within a company is largely driven by how connected employees feel towards their leaders,” said Yeo Ooi Keong, practice leader and organisational psychologist at Willis Towers Watson. “A leader’s abilities to communicate a clear direction, walk the talk and empathise are all critical factors that impact an employee’s willingness to trust and believe in the company. This, in turn, impacts their motivation to do better for your customers and the company as a whole.”

The survey covered SMEs in the following Southeast Asian markets: Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia. It aims to provide SME owners with a yardstick for their employee engagement and to raise awareness around the importance of developing strong employee experience. 

“SME owners must actively protect the wellbeing of their employees,” said William Ng, group publisher of Business Media International. “Watch out for signs of ‘burnout’ among employees, empathise with and help employees better balance their work/life commitments and provide them with the right knowledge to manage their personal finance. This will help reduce the risk of losing our top talents and protect our recovery efforts.”

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