Salary Remains Stagnant Despite Singapore’s Business Growth: Hays Asia Salary Guide 2019

March 27, 20199:29 am1118 views

Despite forecasted business growth in Singapore, salary stagnation persists amid skill shortages in the country. This is one of the key findings in the Hays Asia Salary Guide 2019, a report that highlights salary and recruiting trends based on responses from Hays Asia operating markets Mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Singapore’s businesses saw a year of extended growth over the last 12 months, with 67 percent of companies reporting increased business activity in 2018. On a similar scale, they also predict a continuation of heightened business activity in 2019, and as a result, nearly two in five of them (38 percent) foresee an augmentation of permanent staff levels in the coming year.

Furthermore, 45 percent of those surveyed expect the local economy to be static, an improvement from the 58 per cent with the same sentiment in the survey the year before. Those predicting the economy to improve also increased, from 28 percent last year to 36 percent this year.


Employers note that more salaries remained stagnant in 2018, compared to the year before. Almost one in five (19 percent) of employers express that they do not foresee giving a salary increment to their employees over the next 12 months. Those who plan on giving salary increments will mostly be increasing salaries ‘by up to three percent’, followed by an increment of ‘above three percent but less than or equal to six percent’ and ‘above six percent but less than or equal to ten percent’.

More than half of employees interviewed (57 percent) state that they are ‘satisfied’ with their current remuneration packages, an improvement from the 46 percent who felt the same in the previous year. However, only four percent of respondents claim to be ‘very satisfied’.

“It is clear that while positivity surrounding salaries is up, there is still room for improvement,” says Grant Torrens, Regional Director of Hays Singapore. “As more and more employees leave mostly due to the allure of better salary or benefit packages, companies looking to retain adept employees should look to improve satisfaction rates where remuneration is concerned.”

Benefits and bonuses

Over the past year, the number of companies guaranteeing bonuses to all staff maintained at 67 percent. However, there is a slight decrease (six per cent) in the number of employers giving benefits in addition to financial incentives.

The most common forms of additional benefits are health and medical provisions, health and wellness programmes, and car or car allowance.

Skills Shortages

Employers in Singapore are concerned that skills shortages may affect the running of their operations. Most of those interviewed expect a deficit of required talent to hamper the effective operation of businesses in 2019, and 57 percent of employers confirm that productivity has been negatively impacted in the past year. 

In addition, confidence of required ability to recruit the skills required to meet organisational needs in the coming year is down, with 39 percent ‘not very confident’ compared to 30 percent who had previously said the same.

Areas of greatest skills shortages

Most Singapore employers state that the most sought-after skills are hard skills (65 percent) over soft skills (35 percent). Of the former, project management, statistical analysis and data mining, and computer skills are the areas of greatest demand. Of soft skills, problem solving, team working, and verbal communication were most coveted by employers.

The areas in which employers have the most difficulty in recruiting are as follows:

• Accountancy and finance: middle management (nominated by 21 percent of employers)
• Sales: middle management (nominated by 21 percent of employers)
• IT: middle management (nominated by 20 percent of employers)
• Sales: entry level up to middle management (nominated by 19 percent of employers)
• IT: entry level up to middle management (nominated by 19 percent of employers)
• Accountancy and finance: entry level up to middle management (nominated by 13 percent of employers)

Read also: 8 in 10 Malaysian Employees Expect a Yearly Bonus: Survey

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