Will a Higher Pay Attract Overseas Singaporean Professionals to Return Home?

September 1, 201611:24 am946 views

Attracting overseas Asian professionals to return home has emerged as a viable alternative for regional firms looking to overcome the talent shortage. Recognising the value of local talent, Robert Walters launched an award-winning campaign, ‘Balik Kampung’ (a local phrase that means ‘to return home’) in 2015, to actively engage overseas Singaporeans who may be looking for employment opportunities back home.

The top three reasons why overseas Asians will consider returning home are to care for ageing parents, the perceived ability to command higher pay and the affinity with their cultures back home. As a result, the top three factors they look for in an employment package are a salary increment (over local rates), clear career progression and flexible working arrangements.

According to the latest whitepaper titled ‘Return of the Asian Talent’ from specialist professional recruitment firm Robert Walters, 82% of overseas Singaporean professionals are interested to return home to work. The three main sectors in Singapore which they are keen on seeking employment fall within the Banking and Financial Services, Information Technology and Sales & Marketing.

Toby Fowlston, Managing Director, Robert Walters Southeast Asia comments: “Our Global Salary Survey 2016 reflected the strong demand for skilled IT professionals, particularly for those with specialist skills in cyber security and e-commerce. With returning Asians also seeking employment opportunities in this sector, we expect IT to continue to be one of the most active areas of recruitment in 2016.”

Other Key Highlights from the Survey

  • 88% of hiring managers polled in Southeast Asia say they are currently facing challenges in attracting and recruiting talent.
  • 86% of the hiring managers polled in Southeast Asia see hiring returning locals as a viable option to address their recruitment challenges.
  • 42% of overseas Asians looking for employment opportunities back home will first meet with a recruitment consultancy or headhunter.
  • 32% of overseas Asians say the most effective way employers can ensure a smooth transition back home is to offer them an attractive salary increment.

Fowlston further stated in the report, “Hiring managers will need to strike a balance between budgetary constraints and hiring the right candidates. It will be useful to weigh the cost of hiring versus not hiring: not hiring the right candidate due to initial cost savings may prove to have a greater adverse impact on the business in the long run.”

What can HR managers do to attract Singaporean workforce back home?

  1. Be Prepared to Negotiate – Most returning candidates will expect a significant increment over local rates based on the remuneration they are drawing overseas. 80% of overseas Asians surveyed will not return before having a secured job back home.
  2. Go Beyond the Standard Employment Contract – To attract talent back home, employers will have to look beyond the standard employment contract. Returning back home would involve logistic challenges, and hiring managers can help ease out the process by – offering to pay for the shipping of items back home, assisting with the accommodation search, and allowing for time-off in the first few weeks for settling inn (especially for candidates with family and kids).
  3. Focus on Career Growth – A clear career progression path is a must-have for most employees, and more so for those Asians who are looking at re-building their lives in their home country.
  4. Do not Overpromise and Not Deliver – To retain overseas Asians professionals who have returned, be honest about what you can offer and what they can expect. Make sure expectations are clearly aligned with purpose right from the start.

Beyond attracting returning Asians is the issue of retention. Hiring managers should make sure that these returning Asians are well appreciated and compensated in the company, have clear pathways in the company to include leadership and promotion opportunities, and are able to settle down with family comfortably.

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