Modest Salary Climate for Hong Kong’s Workforce

February 2, 20167:42 am643 views

Candidates should look beyond salary this year to focus on professional development opportunities as employers plan only modest salary increases this year, according to recruiting experts Hays.

  • Most employers (57 per cent) in Hong Kong plan salary increases of three to six per cent this year
  • Employees are expecting more, with 42 per cent expecting more than a six per cent increase
  • Salary & benefits push Hong Kong employees to job search but work-life balance top reason for staying with a current employer

The 2016 Hays Asia Salary Guide, released today, reveals the majority of employers in Hong Kong (57 per cent) plan increases of three to six per cent in the next review period and 19 per cent plan increases of only up to three per cent.

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

“We will see some tension this year between employers taking a cautious approach to salaries to help navigate economic conditions in the region more generally and candidates hungry for advancement,” says Christine Wright, Managing Director of Hays in Asia.

“To make the best of these conditions, candidates should do their research thoroughly before pitching for salary and give more weight to other benefits such as career development opportunities that will pay off when the salary climate is more favourable to candidates.”

“Employers are telling us they expect skills shortages to be a challenge this year and while this will only add to salary pressures we expect most employers to still keep salaries in check. To fill shortages, Hong Kong employers will need to focus more attention on other strategies such as developing their pipeline of female talent and remaining open to recruiting from overseas,” said Christine.


In addition to the salary intentions reported above, the Hays Asia Salary Guide shows that a further 11 per cent of employers in Hong Kong plan to increase salaries this year by six to 10 per cent. A further six per cent plan increases above 10 per cent while seven per cent do not plan any increases.

Looking at the next review period by country, China leads the salary field with 60 per cent of employers planning to increase salaries by six to 10 per cent. Conversely 63 per cent of employers in Japan plan increases of only up to three per cent. Like Hong Kong, the majority of employers in Singapore and Malaysia plan salary increases of between three and six per cent.


Across all countries, 84 per cent of employers provide staff benefits in addition to salary and bonuses. Health/medical is the most commonly offered benefit (78 per cent of employers) followed by life assurance (42 per cent), a car/car allowance and a pension (each offered by 33 per cent of employers).


In the coming year 63 per cent of employers intend awarding staff bonuses. When asked to nominate the one or more factors influencing bonuses, 95 per cent of employers cited “company performance”, 92 per cent “individual performance” and 37 per cent “team performance”. Only 10 per cent of employers guarantee bonuses. In terms of the value of bonuses, 33 per cent of employers intend awarding up to 10 per cent of staff salary as a bonus, 44 per cent plan to award 11 to 50 per cent of salary as a bonus and 13 per cent from 51 to 99 per cent and 10 per cent 100 per cent of staff salary as a bonus.


Most (60 per cent) employers expect business activity to increase this year. Over the next year 43 per cent of employers expect to hire more permanent staff while 46 per cent will maintain current staffing levels.

60 per cent of employers have used flexible staffing such as temps/contractors in the past year and 19 per cent plan to increase their use of temporary staffing this year.

Other key findings for Hong Kong

The Guide reveals that searching for a better salary and benefits package is the key reason most candidates in Hong Kong (65 per cent) start job hunting. When asked what keeps them in a job, 46 per cent of candidates in Hong Kong nominated work-life balance while 41 per cent nominated salary and benefits and 41 per cent job security, followed by 38 per cent citing career progression.

Hong Kong’s workforce is the second most culturally diverse with 18 per cent of roles held by foreign employees compared to 28 per cent in Singapore, 15 per cent in Malaysia, nine per cent in Japan and eight per cent in China. A higher level of labour market flexibility is critical to filling roles in areas of skills shortage.

However, only 28 per cent of management roles are held by women in Hong Kong compared to 37 per cent in Malaysia, 32 per cent in China and 27 per cent in Singapore. Women in Japan hold only 19 per cent of management roles.

Also read: Benefits, Hiring and Salary Increase Plans of Employers in Singapore for 2016

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