Hong Kong firms cautious in raising headcount, salary despite higher business confidence

Employers in Hong Kong remain cautious when it comes to increasing headcount and salary despite their increased business confidence, said Hays which recently released its 2018 Hays Asia Salary Guide created based on responses from more than 3,000 employers across Mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore.

According to the guide, only 43% of Hong Kong employers intended to raise headcount in 2018, versus 39% in 2017 while business confidence is growing with 68% of organizations expecting business activity to increase this year.

In addition, 60 per cent of those surveyed also saw an increase in business activity in 2017 vs 2016 while 20% of employers expect the economy to strengthen further this year—an increase of nine percentage points from last year.

Salary to see moderate increase

However, salary increases will be moderate in 2018 with 49%—down one percentage point from last year—planning to offer salary increases from between 3% to 6%, said Hays.

A total of 22% of employers—two percentage points higher than the previous year—plan to raise salary of more than 6% in the year ahead.

“The economic outlook for Hong Kong is very positive, but our research shows employers will take a conservative approach to both permanent hiring and salaries in 2018 to make the most of these conditions,” said Dean Stallard, Managing Director of Hays Hong Kong.

“Although most firms in Hong Kong plan to award only modest salary increases during their next review period, we do expect to see significant increases for candidates with niche skills moving jobs as well as those with skills in short supply in 2018,” said Dean.

Skill shortage including accountancy and finance is here to stay

A preoccupying worry for many employers in Hong Kong is the continuing skills shortages issue in the territory that is also a prevailing theme across Asia, said Hays.

According to the guide 89% of employers believe that skills will hamper the effective operations of their businesses.

Accountancy and finance (entry up to middle management roles) is one of the areas where skill shortage is an issue, with 19% of employers indicating that they have a hard time filling related roles.

Other roles that are very hard to fill include:

• Entry up to middle management IT roles (nominated by 27 per cent of employers)

• Entry up to middle management Engineering roles (nominated by 18 per cent of employers)

• Entry up to middle management Sales roles (nominated by 17 per cent of employers)

• Middle management Operations roles (nominated by 16 per cent of employers)

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