More Than Half Of Malaysian Employees Now Have A Second Source Of Income To Make Ends Meet

The rising cost of living and ongoing economic challenges have Malaysians seeking additional means to alleviate their financial pressures, with more than half of Malaysian knowledge workers (66%) taking on a secondary source of income. This is the highest rate out of all countries surveyed (Singapore 56%; Australia 51%; New Zealand 51%, and United Kingdom 38%) in Employment Hero’s latest study.

According to its 2022 Remote Work Report, which polled over 1,000 Malaysian knowledge workers, Gen Z and Millennials aged 18-35 were the main drivers of this trend, with 49% of 18-24 and 42% of 25-34 year olds having a secondary job or business venture. 

Overwhelmingly, those with additional income streams view this as a positive, with 77% saying it has greatly improved their quality of life. Most employees (78%) also believe their productivity at work is not affected by having other income streams; 38% of those who were able to work on their secondary income during working hours have attributed this to the flexibility they receive by working remotely or in a hybrid setting.

The Current State of Work

While most employees largely worked remote or in a hybrid style from 2020 and 2021 during the Movement Control Order (MCO), the return to a post-pandemic ‘normal’ saw over half of the workforce (55%) returning to the office full-time in 2022. Of these, 43% stated their return was due to their employer’s directive.

However, 88% of Malaysian employees are keen to work remotely at least once a week. The driving force of this trend are Gen Zs, with 93% of those aged 18 – 24 preferring to work remotely at least one day a week.. Remote and hybrid work were also seen as being better for work-life balance, personal finances, and preventing climate change, allowing Malaysians to delegate time between home and work, save on food and transportation, and reduce carbon emissions from commuting.

Interestingly, Malaysians also believe remote working supports diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Out of those surveyed from marginalised groups, 60% agree that remote work protects them from discrimination, and 40% said workplace culture improved for them while they worked remotely.

However, while employees are eager to embrace remote and hybrid work, many are also aware that their activity is monitored. Sixty-one percent of employees said their employers use tracking or activity monitoring systems, including productivity-tracking algorithms (24%), video recording or screenshot logs (12%) and keystroke logging (10%). Despite this, Malaysian employees had the most positive view and degree of trust for technology and machine learning in the workplace, compared to the other countries surveyed.

The Future is Flexible

There is a clear preference in Malaysian knowledge workers for being able to work remotely, particularly in a hybrid model where they will be able to enjoy the best of home and office settings.

“Out of all the countries surveyed in our report, it’s interesting to note that Malaysians stand out as viewing a secondary income as a positive – and maybe even necessary – addition to their lives. It demonstrates a keenness to take on new challenges and shows their capability to juggle various responsibilities without letting it affect their productivity at work. Employers would be wise to remember this, especially when dealing with the younger generations in the workforce,”  said Alex Hattingh, Chief People Officer at Employment Hero

“This is a generation of young, hardworking Malaysian talent who are not afraid to leave and look for other more flexible opportunities should employers try to push them back into old working patterns that no longer fit their needs. Instead, employers must be prepared to support remote workers’ needs – culture, mentorship and career development are top priorities talent in Malaysia is looking for in terms of support from employers. 

“We are in an era where the future of work is undoubtedly flexible; employers must adapt and engage with their workforce if they hope to successfully attract and retain great talent, or risk losing out,” Hattingh added. 

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