Multigenerational work teams are a good thing, said respondents to a new 2019 H1 APAC Workforce Insights report.
The majority of Asia Pacific hiring managers and employees surveyed said they saw value in employing or working with mature workers, people with disabilities or special needs, and returning mothers.
But most organizations are not adequately preparing employees for more inclusive work. The problem is a lack of soft skills training or flexible working policies, the report concluded.
Diversity and inclusion coaching -- an essential aspect of soft skills training -- is increasingly important in today's fast-changing workforce. Yet across the region, only 16% of respondents had access to diversity and inclusion training. China (23%), Thailand (22%) and Australia (22%) were the top three countries with such programs in place.
More than half of Asia Pacific respondents also said they were not offered flexible working arrangements (61%) or family-friendly policies (67%).
"Organizations are facing different sets of challenges when it comes to driving workforce integration," said Jessica Ang, regional head of Corporate Brand Marketing, APAC, PERSOLKELLY. "To prepare for the transforming workforce and truly impact change, business leaders must engage with their employees to overcome challenges and champion an inclusive workforce."
Meanwhile, the lack of soft skills training and flexible working policies are not helping to dispel misconceptions of working with mature workers, people with disabilities or special needs, and returning mothers.
The survey saw respondents highlighting concerns over physical capabilities, ability to adapt to change and need for flexibility when working with mature workers and people with disabilities or special needs. For returning mothers, their perceived lack of availability and focus were cited as top concerns.
Across the region, Vietnam and China have the highest levels of concern about working with mature workers (96% and 95% respectively), people with disabilities or special needs (92% and 93%), as well as returning mothers (91% and 93%).
While concerns exist, returning mothers are appreciated for their ability to multi-task and focus. The study showed that 95% of respondents recognized the benefits of having mature workers in the workforce, citing their experience as the main advantage.
Similarly, receptivity towards hiring and working with people with disabilities or special needs is high (83%). They are valued for providing an additional perspective to business challenges and are regarded as loyal employees.
"It is evident that there are many benefits to having an inclusive workforce. To promote and manage a more inclusive workforce, businesses need to equip their employees with the right set of skills. Training such as soft skills development and flexible and family-friendly work arrangements will also benefit organizations as they can improve employee satisfaction and retention," added Ang. "In addition, such offerings can enable mature workers, people with disabilities or special needs, and returning mothers fulfill their potential at work."