The majority of hiring managers and employees in Asia Pacific see value in employing or working with mature workers, people with disabilities or special needs, and returning mothers, according to PERSOLKELLY's 2019 H1 APAC Workforce Insights report. However, most organizations are not fully preparing employees for a more inclusive work environment due to a lack of soft skills training or flexible working policies.
Diversity and inclusion coaching -- a key aspect of soft skills training -- is increasingly important in today's fast-changing workforce. Yet across the region, only 16 percent of respondents have access to diversity and inclusion training in their companies. China (23%), Thailand (22%) and Australia (22%) are the top three countries with such programs in place.
In terms of the flexible working policies offered in the Asia Pacific, more than half of the respondents surveyed shared that they are not offered flexible working arrangements (61%) or family-friendly policies (67%).
"Organisations are facing different sets of challenges when it comes to driving workforce integration," said Jessica Ang, Regional Head of Corporate Brand Marketing, APAC, PERSOLKELLY. "To prepare for the transforming workforce and truly impact change, business leaders must engage with their employees to overcome challenges and champion an inclusive workforce."
Soft skills training and flexible working policies are identified as two key practices that can help dispel current misconceptions of working with mature workers, people with disabilities or special needs, and returning mothers.
Some of the concerns raised by respondents about working with mature workers and people with disabilities or special needs include their physical capabilities, ability to adapt to change and need for flexibility. For returning mothers, their perceived lack of availability and focus are cited as top issues.
Across the region, Vietnam and China have the highest levels of concern about working with mature workers (96% and 95% respectively), people with disabilities or special needs (92% and 93%), as well as returning mothers (91% and 93%).
While concerns exist, returning mothers are appreciated for their ability to multi-task and focus. 95 percent of respondents recognize the benefits of having mature workers in the workforce, citing their experience as the main advantage.
Similarly, receptivity towards hiring and working with people with disabilities or special needs is high (83%). These groups of workers are seen as being able to provide an additional perspective to business challenges and are regarded as loyal employees.
"It is evident that there are many benefits to having an inclusive workforce. To promote and manage a more inclusive workforce, businesses need to equip their employees with the right set of skills. Training such as soft skills development and flexible and family-friendly work arrangements will also benefit organizations as they can improve employee satisfaction and retention," adds Ang. "In addition, such offerings can enable mature workers, people with disabilities or special needs, and returning mothers fulfill their potential at work."