Employers are ramping up hiring activities; the number of active jobseekers is increasing, and a large section of employed talent is passively open to new opportunities as well.
Flexible working arrangements and company culture are top priorities for employees; and employers and talent diverge in their expectations of salary increments.
These are some of the key findings in an RGF report, where responses from close to 2,000 employers and employees have been gathered to obtain a better understanding of the needs and behaviours of candidates across six industry sectors in four major Asian markets: Mainland China, Singapore, India and Japan.
Generally, respondents were found to be cautiously optimistic about the outlook for their sector over the next 6 to 12 months. Half of the respondents (54%) expressed optimism while over a third (38%) remained neutral. Their level of optimism exceeded that of last year’s (47%), while those with a pessimistic outlook fell by 27%.
Positive sentiments could largely be attributed to an industry’s ability to overcome the COVID-19 challenges (75%), while neutral sentiments might be due to uncertainty over the impact of the pandemic (48%).
The number of jobseekers is on the rise. The top two motivating factors for those seeking a new job – career progression opportunities and salary benefits package – remain largely the same. However, management style and company culture (42%) have become more significant, replacing work-life balance (as compared to 2020) in the third spot on their list of priorities.
The top motivating factors for those intending to stay with their current employers are work-life balance (50%) and salary or benefit package (46%). However, retention priorities differ slightly between male and female respondents, with the former valuing work-life balance (45%) and salary or benefit package (42%) the most, while the latter valuing work-life balance and flexible working options equally (71%).
Though there is a considerable number of talent actively seeking new job opportunities, the problem of talent shortages persists; and it is exacerbated by increased hiring demand, the ongoing travel restrictions due to the pandemic as well as tightened work pass requirements.
In comparison to their counterparts in other Asian markets, the respondents in Singapore are the most satisfied with their compensation (50%), which is a marked improvement over last year (34%).
However, there are indications of mismatches between the increment expectations of employers and employees: 49% of talent did not receive an annual salary increment in the past year, which likely accounted for the 29% of respondents who were found to be dissatisfied. 47% of respondents received increments averaging 9%.
Those who were satisfied received at average increase of 14%. Talent in Professional Services received the highest increments (17%) while those in Industrial received the least (3%). Most employers expect to provide an average increment of 5% in the next 6 to 12 months.
And while most employees expect a salary increment of 21% when switching to a new job, employers believe an average increment of 13% is attractive enough to new talent.
Most respondents in Singapore also consider their work-life balance to be good or very good (45%). They value hybrid working – 78% said it was most beneficial for their productivity and 64% considered it as their top flexible working priority when considering a new employer or role.
It was also found that more female (85%) than male (75%) respondents preferred this working arrangement.
The priorities for talent considering a new role remain relatively unchanged from last year. Top on their list are: hybrid work arrangements (64%), flexible working hours (56%), competitive annual leave entitlement (56%), and having the option of working remotely from other geographical locations (40%).
Despite the changes in working models last year, 38% of employers did not see any changes to employee productivity, and 30% believed their employees maintained 75 to 99% of their productivity. A majority of them believed that this working model would remain the norm in the near future.
In view of these findings, it would be prudent for both employers and jobseekers to keep expectations reasonable. Candidates should align their salary expectations with their level of experience and qualifications, as well as gain a competitive edge by sharpening their skills to boost their employability and professional value.
And since flexible working arrangements and work-life balance are the top priorities for talent in Singapore, employers could counter salary mismatches by enhancing their corporate culture, upskilling their management staff on remote leadership, consistently updating their employee engagement measures, as well as continue investing in recruitment tools and processes to widen their search for the right talent and speed up hiring.
“Caution is advised for both employers and jobseekers when setting expectations,” said Mike Wilkshire, Managing Director, RGF Professional Recruitment -Singapore. “In periods of volatility, forgoing realistic expectations can impact the prospects of both employers and talent in the eventuality of a market correction.”
“The first step to avoiding this is understanding the current sentiments of talent in Asia, their motivations, and their priorities as indications of how to best attract and retain them for the year ahead.”
Other key findings from the Talent in Asia report include:
- 45% of respondents are actively looking for a new job while another 40% are open to new opportunities
- 64% of respondents in Healthcare & Life Sciences, 63% in Technology, Media & Telecommunications, and 60% in Banking, Financial Services & Insurance (BFSI) are optimistic about the outlook of their industries. In contrast, those in Consumer Goods and Industrial are the most pessimistic about their prospects
- Employers in Professional Services and BFSI industries are willing to offer the highest increments of 17% and 14% respectively in the year ahead
- 50% of respondents are offered hybrid work-from-home (WFH) and office arrangements, 30% have the option to WFH completely, and 27% have flexible working hours