Higher wages not enough to retain skilled workers

As employees come to see contract work as a way to achieve better work-life balance and pick up new skills, non-wage related factors such as career progression, training and corporate values are rapidly becoming "pull" factors, said Michael Page.
As employees come to see contract work as a way to achieve better work-life balance and pick up new skills, non-wage related factors such as career progression, training and corporate values are rapidly becoming "pull" factors, said Michael Page.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Managers and senior staff are slated for pay increases up to 5 per cent this year, said recruitment consultancy Michael Page.

It said yesterday that the higher pay is due to the stability of the economy, although it acknowledged that higher business costs and the loss of low-skilled jobs will result in relatively lower salary increases here compared with other regional nations.

Workers in the digital, technology and healthcare sectors are likely to be the main beneficiaries of the fatter pay cheques.

Michael Page expects these industries to hire actively following a renewed commitment from the Government to boost investment.

A recent scheme put in place by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, for example, funds up to 50 per cent of locally-based fintech trials at a maximum of $200,000 per project.

Singapore's ageing population will also result in higher demand for quality services and trained healthcare professionals in the coming years.

  • 5%

    What managers and senior staff can expect in pay hikes this year

    68%

    Percentage of companies surveyed which employ contractors

And, as technological innovation in Asia gathers pace, firms will race to secure top talent who have multiple skill sets to fit niche roles, driving demand and wages for these professionals higher.

The gig economy is also becoming a bigger feature here as more organisations reward high-calibre talent for the unique skills they bring to specific projects, even if on only a contract basis.

Of all the companies surveyed, 68 per cent are using contractors, mostly in the technology and business support industries.

More companies are adopting strategies such as annual leave, medical benefits and completion bonuses to attract more professional contract workers, said the consultancy.

As the contract market matures, employees have come to see contract work as a way to achieve better work-life balance and pick up new skill sets - all while earning a decent amount.

In an age of high staff turnover and vast opportunities for skilled workers, wages have become an insufficient incentive in talent attraction and retention, said Michael Page.

It noted that other factors, such as career progression, training, work-life balance and corporate values, are also rapidly becoming "pull" factors for an increasing number of employees.

As wage hikes slow, workers will reskill to suit changing market demands and employers will need to maximise job satisfaction in order to attract and retain the talent they need, added the consultancy.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2017, with the headline 'Firms adopt strategies beyond wages to retain skilled workers'. Print Edition | Subscribe