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The Grass Is Greener On The Other Side: 72% Of Young Malaysian Employees Are Considering To Migrate For Better Opportunities

It is high time for Malaysian companies to shift their well-established practices as 72% of young employees are mulling over for the next best opportunity abroad[1]

The survey was distributed amongst 45% of young Malaysian employees in central region (i.e. Klang Valley), 19% from the Northern region (Perak, Kedah, Pulau Pinang, Perlis), 17% from the southern region (Johor, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan), 12% from East Malaysia (Sabah, Sarawak, Labuan) and the remaining respondents are from the East Coast of Malaysia (Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan) [2].

The 2021 Employee Movement and Retention Report conducted by Employment Hero also found that among the 1,004 participants they have surveyed, young Malaysians showed the highest likelihood (61%)  to leave  their current role within the next 12 months as compared to Singapore (59%), Australia (48%), New Zealand (50%) and United Kingdom (55%)[1]

Source: Choo Choy May, retrieved from

Employment Hero, a comprehensive people, payroll and benefits solution for small to medium-sized businesses CEO, Ben Thompson said that the alarming number should incite change in the current practices.

“This is a problem for local employers and should prompt many to reassess their policies, working culture and retention strategies.” Ben Thompson, Employment Hero co-founder and CEO[1]

Reportedly only 24% of Malaysians ‘love’ their job and  45% only  ‘like’ their job. Despite the positive sentiment, most already have one foot at the door [1].

The reasons that many are considering leaving their organisation include lack of career development (36%), 27% shared that there is a perceived lack of appreciation also 26% conveyed their current job is lacking when it comes to training opportunities. [1] We talked to Malaysians who migrated abroad, and they have shared the same sentiment as the respondents of the survey.

Our respondents left due to the perceived stagnation of their career development.

“I saw no chance for my career development- in the way I would have wanted and I would have really struggled with the training back home. I know people who have left the field completely because of working conditions. There was also no specialty training in the field that I wanted. “ Female, working in medicine, UK, 33 years old

“ In Malaysia, the opportunities are hard to come by unless you seek it. In comparison to Singapore, it’ll definitely fall short. Most of the world’s biggest company HQs are here (Google, Meta, Netflix, etc) Regional, Global roles are all in Singapore. Opportunities to be transferred globally are also very high.” Male, working in Singapore, 33 years old

One female respondent shared that there is a hierarchy that she would have to abide to back home and the perceived lack of appreciation from those who are senior in the field.

“I stayed on in the UK after trying a placement in Malaysia and recognised that it isn’t merit-based and had bad experiences after putting myself forward for opportunities with a visiting associate. Many who returned from overseas in the same field shared their frustrations and conveyed that they wouldn’t have come back if it weren’t for their families.”Female, working in medicine, UK, 33 years old

Source: Unsplash

“Beyond this, reasons extended to no pay rise, management woes, feeling overworked, and a lack of flexibility,” Ben Thompson, Employment Hero co-founder and CEO [2]

The findings of this research don’t come as surprising; in 2019,   89% of Malaysians are willing to emigrate for a better work- life balance [3]. The pandemic has also made many employees rethink their life trajectories. If you’re looking for jobs that create meaning, find out how the impact industry is opening up new possibilities in terms of career pathways. However, if upskilling is what you seek, fret not, as there are readily available programmes for you out there. 

Explore our sources:

  1. Bernama. (2021). 72% young employees consider leaving Malaysia for better employment opportunities. The Edge Markets. Link
  2. Employment Hero. (2021). Link 
  3. Randstad. (2019). 90% of Malaysians would emigrate to improve career and work-life balance. Link

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