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Snake shifters looking to shed old jobs for new

Published on Friday, 01 Mar 2013
Mark Enticott

Now that the annual bonuses have been handed out, it is easy to start considering other career opportunities in the Year of the Snake.

If that describes how you feel post-Chinese New Year, don’t worry – you’re not alone. A significant number of employees are also thinking the same thing, according to Ambition’s latest Market Trends and Salaries Report.

The survey analysed the comments of over 2,000 respondents on topics such as salary, bonus, relocation, company benefits, job security, morale, engagement, retention, career progression and work-life balance.

The results show 57.2 per cent of respondents are contemplating alternative jobs. In addition, 42.8 per cent stated that they thought they could earn more in another city, while 65.7 per cent were willing to relocate to further their careers – over half of whom would be willing to do so within the year.

“Hong Kong is a market where employees are always willing to consider other job opportunities,” says Mark Enticott, managing director of Ambition Hong Kong.

He is quick to point out, however, that considering other job opportunities and actually taking action are two different things. “When it really comes to crunch time and an employee gets a job offer, they weigh up what the market is like at the time, what their job security is like, whether they have a proven track record in their role already, and whether they will need to build up that track record again in the new company,” Enticott says.

The report also showed that employees were slightly more positive about pay in comparison to last year. A significant portion was more confident about salary increments, with 44.3 per cent expecting an increase of between 3 and 5 per cent. A large majority were also more optimistic about bonus payouts, with 40.7 per cent hoping for bonuses of between 6 and 15 per cent.

Although there is no data on 2013 bonuses yet, Enticott thinks that salary increments will fall roughly in line with Hong Kong’s 3 to 5 per cent average inflation. However, increases depend on how high the demand is for an employee’s skill set and activity in the related sector. The compliance, risk and audit areas, for example, are offering salary jumps of between 20 and 30 per cent, while insurance companies and fund houses are offering increments of only 10 to 18 per cent.

“The compliance and risk areas of banking are in high demand, so banks are more likely to ensure they retain talent in that area. If you look in other areas such as operations, where banks have been trying to reduce costs and there has been a lot of off-shoring of jobs, they are probably not likely to give high salary increases,” Enticott says.

Marc Burrage, Hay’s regional director in Hong Kong, says that to alleviate shortages in high-demand areas, employers need to be more adaptable when searching for new talent.

“Employers are looking for similar industry experience when hiring and are reluctant to hire candidates with backgrounds in different sectors,” he says. “If they remain inflexible in their requirements, including skill base and experience, they will continue to miss out on good candidates.

He adds, though, that employers are now more willing to hire or sponsor qualified overseas candidates, and many more are now using flexible staffing approaches than in the past 12 months.

“They are not giving in to unrealistic salary expectations. They would rather spend more time looking for someone stable regardless of how urgently they need to fill a position,” Burrage says.

Ambition’s report highlights several other areas of concern for employers. A total of 29.1 per cent of employees feel that morale is low in their business, 46.3 per cent feel that their company does not keep staff updated with important information sufficiently, and 67 per cent feel that there is not enough being invested in training and development.

To combat these problem issues, Enticott says that companies need to better engage their employees through transparency, communication, and providing better opportunities for growth and development.

Still, the report shows that market confidence is on the up after a substandard 2012, and with 50 per cent of employers anticipating business growth, this looks to continue in 2013.

“We expect to see growth in financial services and the commerce and industry sector,” Enticott says.

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