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'Media / advertising (3.7%)', 'information technology (3.5%)', and 'digital marketing, e-commerce & social media marketing (3.4%)' forecast the greatest pay raises in the coming year.

While Hong Kong is gradually resuming normalcy and seeing an improving labour market, the exacerbation of the talent shortage has intensified the war for talent.

According to the latest Hiring, Compensation & Benefits Report 2023 by JobsDB, more than half (52%) of the surveyed companies said they are more willing to offer better pay and benefits to entice talent, up 11% from last year.

Findings show local employers foreseeing an average pay hike of 1.6%, down merely 0.1% from last year.

More employers are willing to give out double pay or bonuses this year to motivate employees. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of businesses generously offered a three-year-high bonus of 1.6 months on average in the past year. Hirers also plan to roll out more bonuses of up to 1.9 months on average to staff of all levels of seniority.

Top six job functions forecasting the greatest pay raises:

  1. Media / advertising (3.7%)
  2. Information technology (3.5%)
  3. Digital marketing, e-commerce & social media marketing (3.4%)
  4. Marketing & branding (3%)
  5. Engineering (2.9%)
  6. Merchandising (2.9%)

Job functions with universal year-end payments handed out:

  • Testing / laboratory
  • Jewelry / gems / watches
  • Advertising / public relations / marketing services

Forecasting Q1 2023, 76% of the surveyed employers expect a more vital labour market or at least as active as last year’s with cautious optimism, while 35% of businesses project a more positive outlook from the second quarter of next year.

Regarding recruitment plans, more than half (52%) of employers said they would maintain their current full-time staff headcount, up 6% from last year.

More than a quarter (26%) of employers are considering recruiting additional full-time new hires in Q1 2023, reaching an expansion of 11 recruits on average, up 2.2 hires from last year. Among them, local companies are more active in recruiting, with 33% saying they plan to hire more full-time staff, 7% higher than the average.

Competition for talent is heating up

In addition to the pandemic having reshaped the city's need for talent and specialisations, and the currently inflamed talent loss pounding post-COVID recruitment plans, 68% of the surveyed companies perceived greater recruitment difficulty in the past 12 months than in the past five years.

The most presently-wanted roles:

  • Supervisory role / manager (64%),
  • Middle management (57%), and
  • Officer / non-managerial staff (54%).

Reasons for the ongoing and deteriorating recruitment difficulty:

  • Raised expectations for salary and benefits (60%),
  • Difficult to recruit capable talent (60%),
  • Difficult to recruit experienced talent (53%),
  • Candidates moving out of Hong Kong (38%).

To address challenges in recruitment and talent retention:

  • 52% of the surveyed companies are more willing to offer better pay and benefits to new recruits;
  • 32% of businesses provide flexible work locations policy, allow staff to work from anywhere, and increase flexibility at work;
  • 29% promote work-life balance; 
  • 28% cultivate a positive culture in the organisation;
  • 28% provide good working environment / facilities.

Apart from enticing talents with lucrative packages, 76% of surveyed employers said that they tried different special recruitment channels in the past 12 months, including jobs boards (47%), recruitment firms (39%), recruitment seminars / job fairs (15%), and overseas recruitment (9%).

Dozens of sectors are hiring fresh graduates and foreign talents to fill up vacancies. More than half (53%) of respondents have employed fresh graduates in the past year for junior roles, hitting a three-year high.

The report also shows that 55% of businesses have plans to conduct overseas recruitment to fill up vacant positions in the roles of 'supervisory role / manager' (41%) and 'middle management' (36%).

Bill Lee, Managing Director of JobsDB Hong Kongpointed out that skills mismatch was one of the root causes of talent shortage.

“The pandemic has framed new requirements on talent. All sectors are undergoing reorientation, drastically transforming their demand for different skill sets," said Lee. "Unfortunately, the labour market has not been able to catch up with these changes.

"Companies need time and resources for internal training and upskilling, thus sustaining a prolonged talent mismatch.

"On the other hand, apart from offering competitive salaries and better benefits, investing extra resources for internal training, promoting a positive culture and work-life balance, as well as making staff a priority, are also recommended to stem the brain drain," he added.

Relocation of full-time headcount out of Hong Kong in Q1 2023

There is a fair bit of relocation activity (out of Hong Kong) expected in Q1 2023, whereby the top three destinations for relocation are China (39%), Singapore (37%), and India (26%). Malaysia has also seen a jump in sentiment, moving up from 10% last year to 15% this year.

The following are the top 10 relocation destinations for outward-bound Hong Kong talent (last year's sentiment in brackets):

  1. Mainland China 39% (62%)
  2. Singapore 37% (7%)
  3. India 26% (1%)
  4. Malaysia 15% (10%) 
  5. Taiwan 12% (13%) 
  6. Vietnam 12% (1%) 
  7. Australia 12% (18%)
  8. The Philippines 9% (less than 0.5%)
  9. Cambodia 7% (none)
  10. Thailand 6% (3%)

In terms of the teams most expected to be relocated, HR happens to be in the top six, although the sentiment for doing so is lower than last year. The most expected roles to be relocated out of Hong Kong are (last year's sentiment in brackets):

  1. Operations 32% (19%)
  2. Sales 29% (14%)
  3. IT 25% (34%)
  4. Marketing 21% (8%)
  5. Accounting/finance 18% (17%)
  6. Admin/HR 12% (26%)

JobsDB commissioned an independent research agency in September 2022 to survey 481 local businesses on their projections for the coming year’s hiring plans as well as compensation and benefits packages for employees.


Image / Shutterstock

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