The Great Resignation in the APAC Region

The Great Resignation in the APAC Region

The Great Resignation is sweeping the world and slowly but surely is reaching the APAC region. With people handing in resignations left, right, and center across North America and Europe, what can be done in Asia to pre-empt, prevent, and mitigate this?

What is “The Great Resignation” and why is it happening?

Was it inevitable? Or is it occurring solely as a result of COVID-19? We might not have the answer to those questions yet, but we can pinpoint a number of factors – pandemic-related and otherwise – that are main contributors to the wave of notices being handed in everywhere.

  • Re-evaluation of priorities
    • A persistent norm of “work as an identity” (alluded to by Weber in his Spirit of Capitalism) has gradually been losing its significance in favour of a more balanced lifestyle where, though work is nonetheless still important, forms just a component of identity amongst other factors such as family, fitness, and personal wellbeing. Financial packages in and of themselves are no longer purely the sole motivating factors of whether to sign on the dotted line and it should go without saying that the pandemic has given the opportunity for many to take a hard look at their lives (what with the ‘blessed’ abundance of time for introspection that the virus has given us) and shift our paradigms on what we value most.
  • Psychological stressors
    • Almost overnight, the rapid emergence and spread of the virus, alongside the governmental responses in social distancing and lockdown measures, triggered a sudden unanticipated switch to a new reality of remote working and isolation – a trigger which has resulted in greater burdens on psychological health [1].
    • Many have also found themselves unable to cope with the additional hours spent in meetings and despite the increased flexibility of a work from home arrangement, encounter more porous boundaries between work and life. [2]
  • Burnout
    • On the other end of the spectrum from those working from home, many people found themselves stretched too thin. A survey recently conducted by Microsoft revealed that one in two Singaporean employees are exhausted and would like to maintain a flexible work-from-home arrangement with their employers for the foreseeable future. [3]
  • Pay and Benefits
    • In the earlier waves of the pandemic, job security was a prevalent topic in the minds of many employees as cost-cutting measures (including layoffs) happened with increasing regularity. With the economy cautiously recovering, many employees are now seeking out greater pay and benefits that were previously not available to them over the past two years, with the rapidity of such movement perhaps given additional momentum from a post-pandemic boom.

Impacts on the Commodity Sector

  • Exodus of foreign expatriates
    • Particularly in Singapore (and perhaps also due the international nature of the commodity industry), mobile foreign talent comprises a significant demographic. A common sentiment amongst expatriates who for the past few years have been living removed from their homelands, is that foreign postings without the perks of travel can very quickly become exhausting. Especially given Singapore’s location, the inability to zip over to Bali or Penang for the weekend reduces the charm significantly. This feeling of being trapped in a foreign land has caused many an expatriate to consider relocations back home where they might have a greater degree of freedom, or just to be closer to their families.
  • Difficulty in securing foreign talent
    • With shifting employment regulations alongside this growing sentiment, it has become noticeably more difficult to attract foreign talent and gain the requisite employment approvals for them, barring exceptional circumstances and niche skillsets that the domestic population may not have [4].
    • Singapore still fundamentally remains a good place to do business though it remains to be seen if the talent pool will return to pre-covid levels. With the relaxing of covid regimes and a dawning new normality, the latest employment statistics which show a small rise in foreign PMETs look promising.

What Should Be Done?

Organizations must mobilize quickly if they hope to not only retain their best talent but remain an attractive employer for future workers. Greater attention must be paid to the needs of current employees though this is easier said than done when trying to balance the needs of an organization from a business perspective against the needs of its workforce.

Businesses may take examples from industry leaders in developing enhanced practices, for example, the Coca Cola Group is using artificial intelligence and machine learning to help enhance the employee experience, according to their Chief Talent Development Officer, Shehzad Lalwani [5].

There is no doubt that other businesses are utilizing this approach too, but leaders cannot rely solely on technology to address these issues. Pre-emptive measures need to be taken to mitigate the impacts of the sweeping trend of resignations.

Proco Commodities remains available to discuss all of the above and more relating to the commodities supply chain space. For more insights, visit, or follow us on LinkedIn to stay up to date with all our analysis of the latest trends and developments affecting the commodities industry. 







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