Career expectations often don't pan out as ideally as employees hope they would when they first join a firm. Recruitment agency, Kelly Services, revealed that firms have difficulty meeting the expectations of fresh candidates from the get go.

The Kelly Global Workforce Index (KGWI) surveyed approximately 230,000 people across 31
countries in the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific regions.

Among the respondents in Singapore, only half of those who applied for their most recent job were satisfied with how the application process was handled.

Concerns include a lack of communication about job application outcomes and interviews, vague job descriptions and salaries in job advertisements.

51 per cent of candidates averaged three to five business days as a good time-frame for getting a reply from the hiring company, while 27 per cent were willing to wait up to two weeks.

A poll by Kelly Services showed that Thailand and Hong Kong had the highest rates of satisfaction at 59 per cent and 51 per cent respectively. Asia Pacific comes close at 42 per cent.

Vice President and Country General Manager of Kelly Services, Mark Hall, said that the hiring processes is an important indicator of the company's culture and can affect candidates' job satisfaction.

"The job application and hiring process is typically a candidate's first experience with an organisation, and a chance for a firm to showcase how it functions and how it treats its people," he said.

Recruitment processes also include an induction period known as 'onboarding' which orientates new employees to company expectations on performance and give them the necessary tools and direction they need in the job.

Mr Hall pointed out that the most sought after recruits would use the onboarding period to decide if they have made the right job choice.

When questioned about the effectiveness of onboarding, 59 per cent of respondents in Singapore said their employers had a proper approach. There was a 77 per cent high in China and a 51 per cent low in Australia who were likewise satisfied with their job's induction process.

After the first 90 days of engagement, 45 per cent of Singapore respondents said they were definitely positive about their new company, another 40 per cent were somewhat positive while the remaining 15 per cent were negative.

What makes retention agreements effective?

High turnover rates are pertinent especially in Southeast Asia companies that have recently underwent merger or acquisition, resulting in high turnover rates when retention agreements expire.

Global professional services company Towers Watson conducted a global study of 248 organisations in 14 countries that focused on the effectiveness of retention agreements. 

Findings revealed that 59 per cent of Southeast Asia respondents managed to retain over 80 per cent of employees who signed a retention agreement, during the full retention period. However, only 29 per cent said they retained the same percentage a year after the agreement ended.

Employees attributed their decision to leave to the changing organisational culture after merger or acquisition.

On the management level, the Southeast Asia employers who responded to the study cited job titles, reporting levels and business units as their selection criteria for retention agreements even though they understood that identifying candidates who had the capacity to affect the success of the transaction is imperative.

To facilitate smooth transitions, 42 per cent of the respondents revealed that they had asked senior leadership to sign retention agreements before the actual transaction. They had also consulted these executives on the potential candidates eligible for retention.

Towers Watson's head of M&A services in Asia Pacific, Massimo Borghello, said that retention should start with executives.

"It's critical for them to be completely on board and aligned with the goals and strategies of the acquisition. Their behaviour is essential to the retention and engagement of employees. They can't be distracted by concerns about their future employment, so it's helpful to provide them with a clear personal stake in the success of the new company."

Company benefits and rewards seem to be a hygiene factor too. The study revealed that high-retention companies used cash bonuses in retention agreements a lot more than low retention companies.

Quality remains a priority though, and the Towers Watsons report showed that more companies are offering retention agreements that has a combination of pay-to-stay and pay-to-perform metrics for senior leaders while about 48 per cent of their other employees are on time-based contracts.