Positive Intent and Bright Career Prospects for Employees in China in 2016: Report Findings

February 1, 20166:57 am452 views

Employees across Greater China (Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan) have expressed positive intent and expectations toward their career prospects in the 2016 Michael Page Greater China Employee Intentions Report released.

Just under a third (30%) of the 1,733 professionals surveyed stated that current job opportunities within their area of the market were good or very good, with a further 47% describing them as average.

Anthony Thompson, Regional Managing Director, Michael Page Greater China said, “This is evidence that, while there has been a lot of negative coverage surrounding economic conditions in Greater China, there is still positivity across many sectors.”

Findings in the report suggest a high volume of turnover in 2016, with the majority (70%) of surveyed professionals stating that they are likely or very likely to change jobs in the next 12 months. Almost all of these employees (93%) expect a pay rise when they move jobs and 72% of them expect this pay rise to be above 10% of their current salary.

Having learnt that a considerable proportion of employees across Greater China are actively seeking new jobs and that career progression and a new challenge are driving their intent to leave, what specifically are employees looking for in a new job and what does this mean for employers looking to attract them?

In Greater China, the answer is offering more attractive salary packages. 63% of respondents said that an increased salary was one of their top three factors when considering a new role. Employees in Hong Kong and Taiwan drove this average up with respective results of 71% and 67%.

Employees across the region are similarly bullish when it comes to pay rise expectations from their current jobs. A high proportion (87%) of Greater China talent expect a pay rise from their existing job in the next 12 months and 63% of them expect it to be between 1-10% of their current salary.

Another notable finding is that 40% of professionals in mainland China expect a pay rise in their current role above 16%. This shows an increase of 14% on last year’s results and possibly an area where employee expectations may sit at odds with what employers will be prepared to offer.

Key highlights from the survey are:

  • 70% of surveyed employees in Greater China say it is likely or very likely they will change jobs in the next 12 months.
  • Lack of career progression (58%) and need for a new challenge (52%) are driving intent to switch positions.
  • 30% rate current job opportunities as good or very good, with 47% describing them as average.
  • 63% stated a salary increase was the top factor in considering a new role.
  • 93% of employees expect a pay rise from a new job and 72% of them expect it to be over 10%.

In the 2015 Michael Page Greater China Salary & Employment Outlook, an overwhelming 82% of more than 2,000 employers said they will only offer up to 10% in salary increases.

Thompson added, “While the Chinese market is facing some challenges, demand for qualified talent and technical specialists is outstripping supply and, consequently, expectations of professionals remain generally high. Past experience of Chinese employees can also be a key driver of future expectations and it is unsurprising to see that many expect higher increases. It will be interesting to see how the dynamics play out when employee expectations and employer intent are placed side by side.”

A mismatch between skills and requirements is also on hand when it comes to attracting talent in mainland China. The issue is not talent but suitability and readiness and this showcases the significant discrepancy between companies’ requirements and candidates’ actual qualifications.

Although a lack of experience plays a role, education may not be able to comprehensively cover the skillsets companies are looking for. Many mainland Chinese university students may not have embarked on any internships or taken up part-time jobs during their school and may lack practical work experience upon graduation.

Most companies operating in mainland China have increased their emphasis on productivity, sustainability and profit and have attempted to rein in salary increases, which have historically been far higher in mainland China than in most economies.

With employees, past experience is often a driver of future expectations and it is not a surprise to see many expecting higher salary increases. Furthermore, many employees see a relatively robust employment market and salary increases that are potentially available to them if they make a move and this may also lead to greater hope and an expectation of an increase.

Employers will also need to develop and articulate persuasive strategies to entice talent to move from the 1st tier cities to the 2nd and 3rd tier ones. There is typically a smaller pool of talent willing to consider employment in 2nd or 3rd tier cities than in 1st tier ones.

Therefore, there may be less competition from other potential employees resulting in good career development opportunities for employees willing to move to a smaller city. One thing is clear though; employers setting up in 2nd and 3rd tier cities and looking to attract talent from the 1st tier cities will need very compelling strategies to convince them to make the move and to articulate them well.

The 2016 Michael Page Greater China Employee Intentions Report is based on the qualitative survey findings of 1,733 employees working across a range of professional sectors in mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The scope of the report includes key insights into employee preferences around attraction and retention initiatives, salary expectations, benefits and views on the predicted employment outlook.


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