Decision-makers’ demand for talent resilient

Photo by Ansel Lee

Hiring sentiment overall in Hong Kong and the Chinese Mainland is softer. However, a KPMG survey shows a more optimistic outlook from C-level executives in Hong Kong, suggesting that there is still a need for top talent who can drive results in their organisations.

For KPMG’s annual report titled Hong Kong Executive Salary Outlook 2024 , 1,103 business executives and professionals were surveyed to measure employment trends and career opportunities.

Among these, 552 work in Hong Kong or have a home base there and 551 work or have a home base in the Chinese Mainland. The research covered the latest headcount expectations, salary outlook, talent trends and other relevant topics.

David Siew, Partner, People Services, KPMG China, says: “This year’s results signal that there will continue to be demand from C-level executives for talent that can drive performance.

“Ongoing business transformation and the changing business environment will mean that roles and responsibilities will continue to evolve. In 2024, accessing more diverse talent pools and talent matching will be key for employers.”

Expectations for increased headcounts declined across all sectors compared to the prior year, with a corresponding increase in expectations for decreased headcounts.

On the contrary, C-level decision-makers are more optimistic about headcount than the general workforce in 2024. Over 80% of executives are expecting no change or an increase in headcounts, with only 14% expecting a decrease. As these executives have better insight into their organisations’ plans, their views may provide a better indicator of future trends.

In 2023, 43% of respondents sought career moves, but less than half that percentage (15%) landed new roles, reflecting that talent matching is becoming more challenging and enterprises are failing to match talent with job positions.

39% of respondents are looking to make career moves in the first half of 2024, representing an increase compared to last year despite a challenging market environment. 74% of respondents who made career moves in 2023 saw a salary increment, with an average increment of 17%.

From employers’ perspective, 97% of the C-level and HR respondents experienced challenges in hiring the right talent to meet business demands. Among those, 63% found such challenges unmanageable.

Eric Cheng, Director, Executive Search and Recruitment (Hong Kong SAR), KPMG China, says: “While fewer job seekers landed new roles in 2023, they remain active. We see challenges around enterprises failing to match talent with job positions and employees lacking the specific skills sought.

“Against this backdrop, organisations can consider investing in training existing staff to retain talent, and accessing additional recruitment channels to find new talent. Relatedly, professionals looking to make career moves may need to upskill to meet the needs of the market.”

Hong Kong professionals most commonly saw an increase of 3% to 5% following salary reviews with the same employer in 2023, which aligns with government figures showing an increment of 4.65% for civil servants in the middle and lower salary bands.

Respondents in Hong Kong also remain optimistic about their salary outlook, with 78% expecting an increase in salary in 2024, compared to 74% last year. Most respondents are expecting modest increments in their upcoming salary reviews.

In 2024, 73% of respondents would consider relocating within or to the Greater Bay Area (GBA) for work. The top three factors luring them to the region are better career and industry prospects, higher income, and exposure to a greater breadth of work. Innovation and technology, financial services, and professional and consulting services are expected to present the most job opportunities in the GBA.