Businesses more ready to employ, give pay rise: surveys

PHOTO: Businesses more ready to employ, give pay rise: surveys

SINGAPORE - Business may be looking up, and with it, the prospects for jobs and pay in Singapore and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region.

Unlike the wariness conveyed in recent polls, the results of two surveys released yesterday show businesses to be more upbeat lately - and they are more ready to hire workers and give pay increases in the new year.

"With better macroeconomic outlook and improved business sentiments, companies across the Asia-Pacific region expect salary budgets in 2013 to grow slightly more than 2012," says professional firm Towers Watson in its latest Asia Pacific Salary Budget Planning Survey report.

Salaries are projected to rise 2.3-12 per cent in 2013, up 0.1-0.5 percentage point from 2012. They are likely to increase 4.5 per cent in Singapore, up from 4.3 per cent.

Two in three of the 500 companies polled by the Nasdaq listed firm in 13 locations in the region see their business improving, 10 per cent higher than six months ago.

"In line with the improved business outlook, 91 per cent of respondents say they plan to hire new employees in the next 12 months, with a strong focus on sales, engineering and marketing jobs," says the report. And with higher recruitment, job-hopping is tipped to jump in China, India, Japan, Singapore and Thailand.

The other survey by recruiting consultancy, Morgan McKinley, shows that hiring and pay in the financial services sector in Singapore are still hampered by fear of a fallout from a shaky global economy; some 68 per cent of the recruiters polled indicated this concern.

But there's "greater confidence" in the commerce and industry sectors, where only 44 per cent of the human resource managers polled thought that global economic uncertainty would hit the region's growth. The survey covered more than 500 HR managers in 13 locations in the Asia-Pacific region.

While hiring is expected to stay "similar" in the next 12 months, the survey says that more than two in three of the recruiters believe it will be "even higher" than the previous 12 months.

"This illustrates a degree of confidence in the market greater than that across Singapore's financial services sector and similar to (the) views of respondents in Hong Kong," Morgan McKinley says in its report.

Also, it adds that "compensation seems of little concern to hiring managers in Singapore, with only 3 per cent identifying that changes in compensation structure or regulation would impact their ability to hire over the next year".

Despite the uncertainty in the financial services sector, only 9 per cent of the hiring managers in Singapore see a cut in staff numbers.

Almost three in four - 72 per cent - plan to hire, though 42 per cent will be trimming staff to some extent as well as hiring.

"Replacement hiring takes precedence in Singapore, as in Hong Kong and China," Morgan McKinley says. "However, 50 per cent of employers also plan to create new job opportunities over the next year.

But in the commercial and industrial businesses here, recruiters anticipate that talent retention will be the biggest challenge in 2013. Two in three of the hiring managers in the Morgan McKinley survey see this as their priority.