Benefits are hot amid zero to slight salary increases
Providing in-depth insights of salaries and employment market trends across various industry sectors, the Hays 2012 Salary Guide indicates that Hong Kong employees should brace themselves for only a modest salary increase over the coming months.
In spite of a generally positive outlook, Nick Fenn, Hays associate director in Hong Kong, says the city's employers are taking a cautious approach regarding salary increases. "In most sectors, employers are watching developments in Europe, and for signs of market improvement in the US," says Fenn.
Of the Hong Kong employers polled, 60 per cent plan to increase salaries between 3 and 6 per cent when they next review. This range is roughly in line with the city's current inflation rate. A further 24 per cent will offer increases above 6 per cent.
The planned increments are notably more generous than those paid out by the same respondents during their last reviews, reflecting a more confident business outlook.
On an industry basis, expected increases in the human resources sector, at 10 to 20 per cent for senior roles, far outpaced those in others.
Due to the shortage of local talent, a steady rise in increments has also been seen in the insurance industry, coupled with a strong reduction in expatriate packages.
As for other noteworthy trends, Fenn also pointed to the rising number of benefits being offered as a substitute for salary increases. "Our research tells us that where there is little on offer in the short-term for a salary increase, the opportunities to increase health and pension benefits are becoming a lot more popular," he says.
The survey revealed that 81 per cent of employers plan to offer a benefits package, up from 78 per cent a year earlier. The advantages of offering benefits, Fenn explains, include everything from increased employee motivation and engagement, to improved retention rates.
"Providing attractive pension and health benefits can help a company become an 'employer of choice'," Fenn adds.
For employees working in sectors where there is uncertainty, Fenn says that it's important to consider the long-term benefits being offered, rather than just the salary increases.
As for hiring, Fenn points to the accountancy, architecture, engineering and construction, finance, technology, insurance and legal sectors. A shortage of experience and skills in these industries mean that they will probably continue to see robust hiring.
"Skill shortages is an ongoing issue across Asia, and is not something likely to be remedied soon," says Fenn, adding that even in the banking and finance sector, where there has been a slowdown in hiring and widespread redundancies, individuals with the "right" skills will remain in hot demand.
"For those with the sought-after skills and experience, salary guidelines will most probably not apply," he says.