Why should you upskill employees in Malaysia? A HRDF opinion

Why should you upskill employees in Malaysia?

The HR dilemma: To train or not to train?

Expensive training courses take up lots of time, loss of productivity for the day, unsure what the boost of productivity is, and you’re not even confident said individuals will immediately look for greener pasture elsewhere in a larger company with better pay, a far cry from expecting loyalty out of them. So why engage in employee training? Why not simply select qualified candidates, and brace for a high turnover rate every two years or so?   The Borneo Post has a great article on the role employee training has in Malaysia. In summary, the article states that while SME employs over 65% of Malaysia’s population, there still has not been significant improvements in the 23 years the HRDF has been around. All the fears of business owners and HR personnel come true as mentioned earlier, and that’s why organizations are so reluctant to send employees to training, intentionally keeping wages low.   But see it from their perspective instead. As an employee, I want my skills and worth to be recognized. Being trained means that I am about to handle more responsibilities, and therefore should command higher wages, ultimately leading to recognition in order to gain what we all desire: a promotion.  

Employees treated as treasured individuals, instead of a number

survey on employees being treated as individuals by kelly services
Survey courtesy of Kelly Services
  This study was done by Kelly Services, where they examined if people being treated as individual employees rather than a team. Malaysians are placed even higher than Singaporeans in their effort to grow, hungering for more responsibility and recognition, wresting strong control over their own careers. Loyalty once met a stable paycheck every month in the post-war world, but that has now changed towards being something employees can throw their full efforts into, and being rewarded in their eyes.   It’s why we at ACTS Asia believe that it’s possible to learn the wrong things at the wrong place, at the wrong time. Studies have shown that if unused, the corporate training spent will be forgotten quickly. It’s not enough for employers and HR to approve sending employees to training, but rather have a plan in place to continuously improve and maintain those skills, for a promotion that aligns with the employee’s goals one day. Sending employees to train for fun, or simply because there is a budget to do so is irresponsible and will see diminishing returns on those kinds of training investments, even if they are HRDF claimable.   Businesses need to work together with the employees picked/scheduled for training, in order to determine what their future goal is within the company, as well as what are their aspirations in life. As referenced earlier, employees want to be heard and recognized as individuals and will value this communication with loyalty if their needs for finances and growth are met.  

So what to do?

Sounds great, so where can we start? Workable has a fantastic template that can be modified for your own business, to be implemented after the employee has come back from training. However, the conversation around potential promotion and thus training needs to be held in advance and requires consent from both sides before moving forward. Employers and employees both hate uncertainty, so it’s better to be clear from the onset rather than spring the training or promotion on anyone. Talk to us today, about setting up the right plan for your latest in house training program, and our consultants will advise you on the best time in conjunction with your shiny new Employee Promotion Form.

Presenting the monthly marketing report without getting chewed out

How to present Marketing reports image


You wouldn’t want to end up as some Business Execs chew toy now, would you? 


It’s that time of the month again. The time when you, dear single marketer, have to look at least 10 Excel files, as you manually click [Download], [Save as .csv] to pull, format, or maybe even screenshot the tables that represent the metrics of your latest marketing campaign, or even simply reporting on the website rankings. It looks like a mess, you’re feeling overwhelmed, and you’re frankly upset that there isn’t anyone to help you with this. Maybe a personal designer for the project?


It would be nice if there were pictures to go with that report, listing all you’ve achieved in the month or quarter, you really want to show the board what are the fruits of your result, but how do you create a presentation and present in a way that doesn’t cause their eyes to glaze over in boredom?


Step 1: Start with the right presentation slides: Google Data Studio

Google Data Studio
Beautiful interface of what can be done with Google Data Studios
Credit: Josh Cottrell​ at Cottrell Consultancy

Stunning. Did they get a designer to do this? It looks incredible. But what if I told you that you too, could create all of this, make it interactive, so when your mouse hovers over a number or part of the chart, pop up boxes detailing numbers, or even links show up? Wow! It’s almost like it is an interactive web page on its own! That’s because dear marketers, it is.

Google Data Studio is one of the most underrated programs in our tool kit, and it might just save our jobs one day. Sleek, customizable interfaces, and not to mention it can pull metrics directly from that excel sheet means no more manual creation of tables and charts. Need a bar chart intersected with a line chart to showcase the relationship between price and bookings made? Say no more Mr/Mrs. Marketer, Google Data Studio has just the thing for you. They even have simple guides to help you through. You just need an eye for design and adding some pretty background images that compliment the story you want to tell the board. Samantha Lile over at visme has some beautiful designs that you could take inspiration for, even if you’re not using their program.


Step 2: The pre-boardroom stakeholder meeting

People working on a table

You’ve made a gorgeous presentation using Google Data Studio, and now you need to talk to your team on how to present this, what are the key takeaways, and how to avoid getting an upset or obtuse board room member who will definitely ask about a certain metric.

But that’s okay. In fact, that director who is always annoyed, has snarky questions, is probably the person you can count on the most in the boardroom, rather than the director who looks bored. If you take a look at the Plutchiks model of emotions, its clear that boredom leads to loathing, but annoyance can still be led to interest with skillfull presenters.

The most important thing is to know your audience. Tailor your presentation to the stakeholder’s background or interest, and tell them a story that’s engaging and leaves them wanting more.


Step 3: The actual presentation. War in the boardroom

Presenting to the board

Time is money, as the adage goes. To really get the presentation started, have a hook (be it funny or curious), and lead with your strongest point.  Remember all the pitches that went “Imagine if…” or “What if…”, followed up by the strongest pitch: “We can make it happen.” Or “It already exists, you just don’t know about it!” The Guardian has a good write up on it, or check out Dom Barnard at Virtual Speech for a more detailed breakdown for each story telling step.

Once you’ve presented your executive summary and the points you really wanted to make, then it’s about justifying why you presented the earlier facts. This is where your gorgeous Google Data Studio presentation is going to really come into play, as you wow them away with the interactive-ness and design of the slide, but most importantly impressing them with your understanding of analytics.

While the narrative is important, don’t forget to link the data and the finances to it. That’s why you went through all that effort to create a presentation based on your metrics like conversions, bounce rates, and the likes, right? We as marketers can no longer ignore the elephant in the room, that is using data to justify our marketing efforts.


Step 4: Make sure you’re looking to the future.

Managers, directors, CEOs, they could technically learn how to read what Google Analytics or Facebook Insights in a day. They don’t have the time for that, and generally want to hear a different, and possibly prediction from you and your team for the future of the company moving forward.

IBM Watson News Explorer
IBM Watson News Explorer in Malaysia. See anything familiar to you?

It might not be in your report under any one particular slide, but what are your competitors doing? How did it measure up against your campaigns? What are the current trends based on your keyword research? Your creativity in interpreting and understanding consumer behavior was the foundation upon all marketing, and being able to communicate that to the higher ups is vitally important for continued growth. Use programs such as IBM Watson News Explorer, or Google Search Console to find out what’s currently happening in your industry, at least enough to make a conversation and drive your presentation towards the future.


Step 5: Reaffirm what was said

Remember the rule of 3 in marketing? Always repeat the copy, the voice over, the brand 3 times. One at the beginning, one at the middle, and one at the end. It’s reported the highest memory retention, because it’s a pattern, and we humans love patterns. You’ve got your hook and executive summary for the start, the middle to explain the concept in more detail, and finally you’re about to wrap up.

“In conclusion” might be a tad too formal, but “To recap”, “Just so we’re on the same page here” all works as a natural closer for a presentation, and brings everyone on the same wavelength after the meeting’s finished.


In conclusion: Yes, this is a written article and I can use that phrase.

Step 1: Make beautiful data charts

Step 2: Make sure you and your team know whats the most important topic and how it relates to the most important person in the presentation.

Step 3: Tell the story, but make sure to weave in the data, instead of letting it stand as a background image.

Step 4: Predict the future within reason, and based on your understanding of the data.

Step 5: Repeat things 3 times. One at the start, one at the middle, and one at the end. Three is the magic number!

There are tons of free online resources, including this article that can simply tell you about it. But honestly, nothing is better for remembering lessons that are taught in person by an expert on the topic, since they are able to directly address your concerns. If you would like to further your Google Data Studio-fu (Doesn’t have quite the ring as Google-fu), as well as presentation techniques, come join us this April in Kuala Lumpur with a special session with Gemma Purnell, a certified Google Academy Partner! She knows the in and outs of how to get the most out of Google Analytics, as well as how to present it.

Do Malaysian businesses need Digital Marketing? The Malaysian E-Commerce Landscape: A study

Malaysian e-commerce landscape
The Malaysian e-commerce landscape

Malaysia actually has the 2nd highest amount of its citizens engaging in online shopping in South-East Asia, losing to Singapore just by several percentage points. But businesses as a whole are slow to catch up on the changes happening digitally, with the Malaysian Govt under the Malaysian Communications Multimedia Commission releasing its first-ever eCommerce Survey in 2018, 20 years after Paypal was introduced and eCommerce took the world by storm in the early 2000s dot com craze.

But despite its long history (long in internet years, at least), Digital Marketing has only been around for perhaps 5-10 years. Digital Marketing is so new as a concept, it has traditionally been people studying in IT and webmasters who eventually see the patterns of online behaviour, dubbing themselves as Digital Marketers, leaving actual Marketers behind. This new Digital Marketing sphere has ballooned to an industry worth RM2.24 billion, and shows no signs of slowing at an almost 3-5% growth annually.

What was once about understanding media buying, channel strategizing, Go-To-Market plans, have suddenly been thrown out in favour of Social Media Analytics, Search Engine Marketing, SEO, Website conversions. As of result of this, many marketers have no choice but to resort to agencies, and even those agencies are outsourcing data analytics to Digital Marketing Agencies. It’s nothing but agencies going forwards from here, or is it?

“The biggest mistake most agencies make is getting embroiled in driving more tactical approaches in the quest for digital metrics, rather than finding a balance in defining the holistic picture for a brand through communication.” Stanley Clement , CEO of Reprise Digital

But when the CMO gets upset about the lack of conversions, or the high shopping cart abandon rate, who do they direct that ‘energy’ towards, if your company is outsourcing the digital work? The in-house marketers. Marketing is now 20% creativity, 30% digital know-how, 30% sales, 20% you managed to study something relevant to your industry while taking a general marketing course.

Where do Malaysian Marketers go from here?

Hays Recruitment’s assessment is surprising. It’s not just the junior IT personnel becoming the default Digital Marketer of companies, but rather a strong pivot of 30-40 year old marketers, wishing to adapt to the changing times, and taking this opportunity to carve out a niche for themselves. The Malaysian Govt is preparing a massive plan to gear up the nation’s workforce, with Digital Government Transformative Plan expected to end in 2022, and many initiatives such as #GrowwithGoogle Malaysia in collaborating with Mahir Digital, as they work on releasing free accessible resources to those who really want to understand the future marketing tools. But most importantly, the ability to claim HRDF deductable since 2001.

To the Malaysian Marketers who are afraid and anxious about change, Malaysia is here to help. There are tons of training courses online and offline, such as our own ACTS Asia’s Digital Marketing course by Gemma Purnell. But Malaysian Marketers should first identify: How will this help me/my workplace/my business going forward? Call us at ACTS Asia at +603-21786072 for a free consultation, on whether Digital Marketing is right for your business.