Hong Kong Businesses Worry About Impact of Skills Shortage on Their Operations

Businesses in Hong Kong are concerned that the continuing skill shortage will severely impact their operations this year, according to recruiting experts Hays.

The 2017 Hays Asia Salary Guide, released today, reveals that 91 per cent of employers in Hong Kong are still struggling to find the skilled individuals they need.

The Hays Salary Guide highlights salary and recruiting trends drawn from more than 3,000 employers across Japan, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore representing six million employees as well as the salary ranges for more than 1,200 roles.

“The ability to attract and retain the best talent always provides a company with a competitive advantage, but in 2017 with skill shortages persisting and significant changes and challenges on the horizon, it is more important than ever,” says Christine Wright, Managing Director of Hays in Asia.

The skills shortage in Hong Kong has been well documented and as business operations are likely to be affected throughout the year, employers are encouraged to invest in the training and development of staff and to become more strategic in their talent management practices.

“Recruitment and retention of talented employees will undoubtedly be one of the biggest challenges facing employers this year, and heightens the need for a review of recruitment policies and procedures in the midst of a war for top talent,” adds Christine.


Like last year, there still seems to be disconnect in the salary expectations of Hong Kong workers and what employers are offering. 17 per cent of employers will award more than 6 per cent increases, whereas 37 per cent of candidates surveyed in Hong Kong are expecting more than 6 per cent. On average, most employers in Hong Kong plan to award salary increases from between 3 to 6 per cent.

“Employers need to balance the need to remain competitive on salary to attract new talent while managing salary budget for existing staff carefully. While employees’ salary expectations are fairly modest in Hong Kong, tensions could arise if salaries for new hires move up too fast,” says Christine.


Across all Asian countries surveyed, 85 per cent of employers provide staff benefits in addition to salary and bonuses. Health/medical remains the most commonly offered benefit (79 per cent of employers) followed by life assurance (40 per cent), a car allowance (34 per cent), pension (31 per cent), housing allowance (26 per cent) and club or gym membership (16 per cent).


In the coming year, 68 per cent of employers in Hong Kong intend to award bonuses to all employees and 25 per cent to only some employees.

Across all Asian countries, bonuses were most commonly related to company performance (88 per cent) or individual performance (84 per cent). Only 10 per cent of staff bonuses were guaranteed.

A further 34 per cent of bonuses were related to team performance.


Over the last 12 months, 42 per cent of employers in Hong Kong increased permanent staffing levels, 14 per cent decreased permanent headcount and 43 per cent kept permanent staffing levels unchanged.

In the year ahead, 40 per cent of employers in Hong Kong expect to increase permanent headcount, 9 per cent to decrease permanent staff levels and 51 per cent expect levels to remain unchanged.

Over half of Hong Kong employers (59 per cent) used temporary staffing in the last year. Of those employers, 57 per cent engaged contractors or temporary staff through a recruitment firm, 58 per cent engaged part time staff, 23 per cent hired casual employees and 24 per cent made use of job sharing arrangements.

This year, 20 per cent of employers expect to increase their use of temporary staff.

Other key findings

Hong Kong has the second most diverse workforce in the region with 12 per cent foreign employees. This figure has decreased from 6 per cent last year however. Singapore’s workforce is the most culturally diverse in the region with foreign employees comprising 21 per cent. This however is a 7 per cent decrease from last year.

China is bottom with 6 per cent, Japan is next at 9 per cent, and finally 11 per cent in Malaysia.

Hong Kong has improved its gender diversity performance with 33 per cent of management roles held by women compared to 28 per cent reported last year. Women hold 35 per cent of management roles in both Malaysia and China with 31 per cent in Singapore. Japan still trails behind with only 22 per cent of its management roles held by women.


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