Nine in ten companies in ASEAN face challenges in recruiting, nurturing and retaining tech talent, while 91 percent of tech talent are open to leaving their companies, according to the Growth & Scale Talent Playbook launched by Southeast Asian venture capital firm Alpha JWC Ventures with global consultancy firm Kearney and technology recruiting platform GRIT.

The playbook, which was launched on Thursday, seeks to educate and guide startups and digital companies in attracting, managing, and retaining talent.

Surveying hundreds of startup employees and almost 40 startup founders across six ASEAN countries, this playbook covers key findings around the evolution of talent requirements from pre-seed startups to unicorns, and the building blocks for companies to effectively attract, manage and develop tech talent.

One of the starkest findings is that nine out of ten companies face difficulties in hiring digital talent. Furthermore, there is a notable shortage of talent that requires a mix of technical and non-technical skills, as many often do not have the requisite skills or business acumen needed to meet the needs of the role or to succeed in it.

However, with the ongoing stiff talent competition and shifting work values and mindsets, it is now more important than ever for startup founders to be cognizant of the challenges the talent landscape faces, and be well-equipped in navigating the macroeconomic headwinds that have an impact on hiring talent.

Startup founders also need to be educated on the differences in tech roles they need to fill as the company stage evolves, as the needs and priorities of the company will grow accordingly.  
Meanwhile, as companies grow, hiring would not be the only important thing in building the team. Companies need to manage and retain their talent and these are not without challenges.

The region-wide research found that for employers, the top three challenges in retaining talent are compensation, a mismatch between skills and experience, and employer branding.

According to the report, early-stage firms face a greater problem with compensation while later-stage firms and corporates face a greater problem with perceived corporate branding. Failure to address these issues would lead to high turnover rates.

The research also found that talent in the tech sector are prone to leaving their current companies, with 91 percent of interviewed startup employees saying that they are open to leaving their existing jobs.

Their top three reasons for leaving their jobs would be better compensation, misalignment with the company’s vision and culture, and a lack of growth opportunities, which are all very critical for companies of all sizes to acknowledge and act upon.

The playbook concludes with six building blocks in attracting, building, and retaining digital talent enabled by culture, with the right rewards and compensation structure, and talent enablement infrastructure forming the foundation.

“We recognize that support for startups in ASEAN is now needed more than ever, in light of the current economic climate. They have to navigate themselves through the road ahead on top of their pre-existing growth pursuits, unit economic improvement while obtaining funding,

“We are determined to continue developing entrepreneurs of the next generation in ASEAN, through sharing talent insights that will equip these startups and set them up for success,” said Erika Dianasari Go, Partner at Alpha JWC Ventures.

Meanwhile, Kearney Principal Ishan Nahar said developing a solid human capital is one of the most important priorities and key differentiators for digital companies to thrive and successfully scale.

“This requires a concerted sponsorship by the top leadership of the company and continued efforts across all levels of the organization,” he added.

GRIT Founder and Chief Executive Officer Paul Endacott said despite the ongoing challenges and reorganisations across bigtech and digital native organisations globally, Southeast Asia still continues to face a shortage of digital native talent and demand outweighs supply.

“We are delighted to have had the opportunity, in partnership with Kearney and Alpha JWC, to fully explore both companies and talent’s perspective when it comes to attraction, engagement and retention,” he said.

“The result is Southeast Asia’s most comprehensive playbook on the opportunities and challenges presented in the region and provides insights and expertise to enable organisations at different stages to grow and thrive in this high growth region,

“This playbook has been developed to help companies successfully attract, engage and retain their company’s most important asset – talent,” he added.

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