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Malaysian Employees Less Engaged at Work, Open to AI Assistance


As workers continue to experience evolving hybrid work arrangements against a backdrop of economic uncertainty, Qualtrics’ 2024 Employee Experience Trends Report has revealed the indicators of an optimal employee experience in Malaysia have fallen over the last 12 months.

Based on responses from nearly 37,000 employees globally, including more than 500 from Malaysia, all leading employee experience indicators have declined from 2023. These include employee engagement (76% vs. 82%), experience exceeding employee expectations (47% vs. 58%), intent to stay (76% vs. 82%), inclusion (82% vs. 87%), and well-being (75% vs. 84%).

  2024 2023 2022 2021
Engagement 76%

(Global: 68%)


77% 78%
Experience Exceeds Expectations 47%

(Global: 38%)

58% 47% 33%
Intent to Stay 76%

(Global: 65%)

82% 76% 82%
Inclusion 82%

(Global: 73%)

87% 82% 84%
Well-being 75%

(Global: 72%)

84% 80%


This trend is reflected across Southeast Asia, highlighting the need for organisations to refocus towards people-centricity.

“As economies focus on improving productivity, employee experience is one of the most important levers to prioritise. There is a well-established connection between employee engagement and organisational performance—from innovation and profitability, through to better customer service and employee health outcomes. Organisations that maintain their people-centric focus, and effectively enable their teams to do great work, will be the standout performers in years to come,” said Dr. Cecelia Herbert, Principal XM Catalyst, Qualtrics XM Institute.

Some Days in the Office Is Better Than None—Unless It’s Five Days

As the debate continues over how many days employees should spend in the office, the Qualtrics research shows that Malaysian employees prefer spending two to four days in the office as compared to working fully remote or fully in office. Employees in hybrid working arrangements have the highest levels of engagement (76%) and feelings of inclusion (73%) and intent to stay three years or longer (62%). However, those in fully remote arrangements reported highest levels of well-being (75%) and felt the experience exceeded their expectations (39%).

  0 days in the office 2–4 days in the office (average) 5 days in the office


66% 76% 61%
Experience Exceeds Expectations 39% 29% 23%
Intent to Stay 3+ years 61% 62% 56%
Inclusion 72% 73% 64%
Well-being 75% 72% 61%


Employees Are Open to AI Assistance, but Not to Evaluate Them

Artificial intelligence (AI) accessibility has proliferated significantly this year with applications such as ChatGPT and Midjourney gaining widespread attention. The volume of workers in Malaysia open to embracing AI in the workplace is slightly higher than the global average, with 45% of respondents saying they are open to having AI help them at work (compared to 42% globally).

Workers are more comfortable with AI in the workplace when they have a sense of control over it—such as for writing tasks (66% of employees would use AI for this), as a personal assistant (55% of employees), and contacting support functions (51%). They are less in favour of receiving education from an AI Bot (37%) or having their performance appraised by AI (26%).

  Favourable Unfavourable
Would have AI help with writing tasks 66% 12%
Would have AI as a personal assistant 55% 15%
Would seek support from AI bot when contacting internal support function 51% 22%
Would receive AI bot coaching/advice for personal growth 44% 27%
Would want formal education taught by AI bot 37% 33%
Would receive AI bot performance appraisal 37% 35%
Would be interviewed for new job/promotion by AI bot 26% 44%

Frontline Employees Are Unhappy, Poorly Supported Compared to Office Workers

Frontline workers, like cashiers, restaurant servers, and retail workers are critical to business results, and often the most important driver of a great customer experience. However, compared to all back-office workers, they don’t feel their basic pay and benefits needs are being met, they lack support to effectively do their job, but don’t feel they can propose changes to the way things are done.

  Frontline Workers Non-frontline Workers
Happy with pay & benefits 49% 56%
Satisfied with career development 59% 66%
Feel prepared to adapt to changes at work 61% 68%
Feel able to challenge the traditional way of doing things 51% 55%
Trust leadership 66% 63%

The New Job First-Year Honeymoon Phase Has Vanished

Historically, employees were more engaged for at least their first year in a new role. However, new hires in Malaysia with less than six months tenure now have lower levels of engagement (68%), intent to stay (35%), well-being (59%), and inclusion (56%) compared with more tenured employees.

  Engagement Experience Exceeds Expectations Intent to stay Inclusion Well-being
New hires (<6 months) 68% 29% 35% 56% 59%
6 months to a year 67% 28% 22% 65% 61%
1-2 years 71% 27% 44% 74% 75%
2-3 years 65% 23% 56% 74% 69%
3-5 years 66% 30% 48% 65% 72%
5+ 67% 30% 73% 70% 68%

The data reveals how important the first several months of a new job are to building committed and loyal employees–yet only 41% of HR leaders prioritise onboarding new employees to fully integrate them into the company. With many of these new employees excluded from annual engagement surveys, organisations may be missing critical information for retaining their newest hires.

Employees Are comfortable with Employers Using Work Emails and Chats; Social Media, Not So Much

Today’s employees are comfortable with their employer listening passively to work emails, work processes like interview notes, virtual meeting transcripts, and chat messages to improve their experience. In fact, 66% of workers are comfortable with their organisation using email data to better understand and improve their experience at work. They are less comfortable with companies perusing social media posts, whether anonymous or not—35% of employees are comfortable with social media being used.

  Favourable Unfavourable
Comfortable with org using data from email 66% 6%
Comfortable with org using data from survey open-text responses 56% 10%
Comfortable with org using data from work systems and processes 54% 8%
Comfortable with org using data from virtual meeting transcripts 58% 10%
Comfortable with org using data from direct messages 60% 9%
Comfortable with org using data from digital workspaces group messages 48% 14%
Comfortable with org using data from anonymous social media posts 38% 21%
Comfortable with org using data from non-anonymous social media posts 35% 22%

This change comes as recent advances in feedback technology give organisations new ways to find out how employees are doing beyond engagement surveys. Unlike directly solicited feedback, “passive listening” does not require extra effort from employees but still provides critical insights.

Read the full 2024 Employee Experience Trends Report here.