Workers expect higher pay raises when changing jobs, even as employers worry about talent crunch: Survey

Singaporeans on average said they expected their pay to rise this year by 27 per cent when switching jobs.
Singaporeans on average said they expected their pay to rise this year by 27 per cent when switching jobs.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A survey of 1,500 employers and workers here has found that most employers expect a talent crunch this year, even as employees polled said they expect pay rises when switching jobs that are 10 percentage points higher than average expectations last year.

Among employers' top concerns are a lack of candidates with necessary work experience, skills and knowledge (58 per cent), increased competition from other employers (38 per cent) and a lack of candidates who will fit their corporate culture (36 per cent).

One possible reason behind employers' concern in this regard could be smaller hiring budgets, with 44 per cent of them citing this as their biggest challenge this year. Their next biggest priorities are building a stronger brand (41 per cent) and building a more capable human resource or talent acquisition team (32 per cent).

These were among the findings in a recent report by recruitment firm RGF International Recruitment on hiring trends and the impact of Covid-19 on businesses.

In light of this, the report advised: "With the onset of Covid-19, some employers may find the talent market brimming with potential candidates, especially if key competitors have had to make significant cuts. If this is the case, employers would be wise to jump on these key talent quickly and find budget to hire those with specific, niche skills that can help them endure the pandemic, and thrive beyond it."

From the employees' perspective, 64 per cent of professionals say a salary increment would be their top reason to change employers. Besides base salary, 76 per cent of employees consider performance-based bonuses to be a key compensation factor.

The opportunity for career advancement (43 per cent) and salary considerations (42 per cent) remain top priorities for Singaporeans who are considering new employment.

Despite the general economic malaise, Singaporeans on average said they expected their pay to rise this year by 27 per cent when switching jobs, up from an expected pay rise of 17 per cent last year.

RGF International Recruitment Singapore managing director James Miles said that while hiring for most roles has slowed during the pandemic, the need for niche specialist roles such as data scientists, cyber security experts and software developers has continued to increase.

"Due to the lack of this type of local specialist talent, we have seen the salary expectations rise based on the increased demand and lack of supply, thus contributing to the overall increase in pay rise expectations since last year," he said.


In terms of career advancement, half of Generation Y and Generation Z (those born between 1980 and 2010) employees consider career opportunities above salary and compensation.

For Baby Boomers and Generation X (those born between 1940 and 1979), management and leadership style is the biggest motivating factor for most of them (42 per cent), followed by career advancement (37 per cent) and salary (36 per cent).

Some 300 employers and 600 employees in Singapore were surveyed on hiring trends between last December to March this year by RGF International Recruitment for its Talent in Asia report, followed by a poll of more than 600 employers and employees between April and May about the impact of Covid-19.

The report covered 11 Asian markets and countries - Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, India, China, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The survey found that 95 per cent of employers in Singapore said they have implemented flexible work arrangements, which include work-from-home arrangements, split teams or flexible work hours, and more than 60 per cent of them plan to continue these flexible work arrangements beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.


The report also noted that flexible work arrangements are a positive development for employees here, as 65 per cent of them consider these arrangements to be a key factor of work-life balance. "During Covid-19, employers have embraced remote working options and have not seen a huge decrease in productivity, utilising various methods to keep talent engaged and motivated," said RGF.

The report also found that employers are future-proofing their business and ensuring that workers are adaptable. They are providing more frequent and clear communication on business strategy (68 per cent), investing in frequent training (41 per cent) and technology to improve efficiency (35 per cent).