Nine in Ten APAC Workers Say No to ‘Normal’, Says New Report

Skillsoft’s research shows Asia-Pacific workforce eager for ongoing flexibility and a focus on personal well-being in the post-COVID workplace

Melbourne – 1 September 2020 – Nine in ten workers across APAC are against a return to ‘normal’ working life, according to a new study released today by Skillsoft, a leading global provider of digital learning, training, and talent solutions to help organisations unleash their edge.

Based on a survey of more than 2,300 workers or people looking for work across Australia, Malaysia, and Singapore, Skillsoft’s report examined employee expectations in a post-COVID workplace and found that 89 percent want at least one COVID-19 practice adopted permanently in their day-to-day lives. On average, just 11 percent of respondents are happy to return to how things were.

The top practices that workers want to see introduced permanently are flexibility in their working hours (59 percent) and working from home (58 percent), with almost half wanting more time dedicated to their physical and mental well-being (47 percent) and increased family time (47 percent).

Other key findings:

  • More than four in ten respondents are eager for a reduction in unnecessary work meetings (45 percent) and fewer outside commitments (43 percent).
  • 38 percent want more online professional development and learning opportunities.
  • Women are more likely than their male counterparts to want more time spent on their physical and mental well-being (51 percent versus 43 percent) and fewer outside meetings commitments (48 percent compared to 38 percent).
  • The younger workforce is more likely than their older counterparts to want increased family time (57 percent among 18-24 years, versus 47 percent for 50-64 years and just 37 percent for 65+).
  • Interestingly, close to one third (31 percent) of respondents also want to see less business travel adopted permanently.

Job security and personal well-being in focus
The study further showed that APAC’s workforce appears more concerned about their own well-being at this time, with 27 percent of workers ranking health and safety as the number one issue they want business leaders to be prioritising.

Other important issues for workforces in Australia, Singapore, and Malaysia are job security and work/life balance with more than half (56 percent respectively) ranking these issues in their top three to be prioritised. Only 12 percent rank innovation among their top three.

Rosie Cairnes, Vice President, Skillsoft APAC stated that, “It’s very interesting to see the emergence of a more inward mindset among workers across APAC - whether it is deciding when and how to work, prioritising family time over work and travel, concern for personal health, or taking charge of their own professional development. There is a resounding rejection of the old order.

“The COVID period has created a trend that extends beyond flexible workplaces, toward genuine self-care. For companies to reach the other side of this pandemic in a good place, employee well-being and wellness must become a permanent focus, not just something that gets addressed during crisis.”

Gender, age, and racial diversity on workers’ wish lists
The report also showed the top two issues the APAC workforce wants their employers to support the most are offering flexible work for parents of both genders (38 percent) and hiring and supporting more older workers (33 percent).

Other top line issues include providing more learning and development around racial diversity (29 percent), ensuring equal gender representation on the leadership team, supporting equal maternity and paternity leave, and monitoring, reporting, and working to close the gender pay gap (25 percent respectively).

Women are more likely than their male counterparts to want their organisation to address their gender pay gap (28 percent compared to 21 percent) and ensure equal gender representation on the leadership team (28 percent versus 20 percent). Similarly, workers aged 18-34 years are more likely than their older counterparts to report supporting equal maternity and paternity leave (34 percent compared to 25 percent for 35-49 years, 14 percent for 50-64 years and just 8 percent among people aged over 65).

Interestingly, four in ten (38 percent) workers aged 18-24 years rank learning and development around racial diversity as the issue they want organisations to support the most–significantly higher than all other age groups.

“Globally the pandemic has brought many of society’s inequities to the fore, and in some cases given people of a taste of how things can work better, particularly in terms of caring responsibilities,” Ms. Cairnes continued.

“Across APAC there is a strong push for policies and practices that promote greater gender, age, and racial balance–and this push is only going to grow louder as more young people enter the workforce. Organisations that rethink their hiring and policies and focus their future learning and development in these areas stand to benefit hugely in terms of available talent, employee engagement, and retention.”

About Skillsoft
Skillsoft delivers digital learning, training, and talent solutions to help organizations unleash their edge. Leveraging immersive, engaging content, Skillsoft enables organizations to unlock the potential in their best assets — their people — and build teams with the skills they need for success. Empowering 45 million learners and counting, Skillsoft democratizes learning through an intelligent learning experience and a customized, learner-centric approach to skills development with resources for Leadership Development, Business Skills, Technology and Developer, Digital Transformation, and Compliance.

Skillsoft and SumTotal are partners to thousands of leading global organizations, including many Fortune 500 companies. The company features three award-winning systems that support learning, performance and success: Skillsoft learning content, the Percipio intelligent learning experience platform, and the SumTotal suite for Talent Development, which offers measurable impact across the entire employee lifecycle. Learn more at

About the research
This study was conducted online by YouGov between 30 July – 3 August 2020. The sample comprised a nationally representative sample of 681 Australians, 758 Malaysians and 886 Singaporeans aged 18 years and older who are currently working or looking for work.


Media Contact
Jen Kaye
Senior Manager, Communications
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