Almost 40 per cent of Hong Kong employers will freeze hiring in Q1 2020.

Pay rise at 2.7 per cent.

The new jobsDB Hiring, Compensation & Benefits Survey suggests employees in Hong Kong can expect to receive an average pay rise of just 2.7 per cent in 2020. The survey canvassed 356 companies in September 2019, revealing that Telecommunications (5.0 per cent) will have the highest increase in salary in 2020, followed by E-commerce (4.8 per cent) and Medical / Pharmaceuticals (4.1 per cent).

Nearly half of companies surveyed (47 per cent) are pessimistic about the future job market, predicting that it will become quieter in the first quarter of 2020. Furthermore, 10 per cent of those surveyed were unsure, while 34 per cent anticipated a period of stability. Only 9 per cent of respondents still believed the employment market will become more active in Q1 2020. Additionally, companies planning to increase their headcounts dropped from 38 per cent in 2018 to 24 per cent in 2019. Those expecting to freeze hiring rose from 24 per cent to 35 per cent, while employers anticipating a reduction in headcount climbed from 3 per cent in 2018 to 7 per cent this year.

Among companies that will hire new staff, the most sought-after roles comprise Admin & HR (29 per cent), Accounting (28 per cent), Marketing & Branding (16 per cent), Corporate Sales & Business Development (13 per cent), Other Professional Services(13 per cent), General Management (12 per cent) and Information Technology (12 per cent). The main reasons given for increasing headcount include business expansion (69 per cent), replacement of resigned staff (44 per cent) and having new roles / new skillsets (39 per cent).

“Currently, the social and market environments in Hong Kong are indeed unpredictable, with some major industries already experiencing the negative impact, yet still the demand for some job functions is growing,” said Isaac Shao, CEO of Jobs DB Hong Kong Limited. According to the number of job adverts on jobsDB from 1 September to 24 November this year, the five job functions with the highest year-over-year growth, in descending order, are ‘Management Trainee’, ‘Data Scientist’, ‘Asset Management’, ‘Sales Support’ and ‘Medical Service Technician’, with the first three even seeing growth of over 60 per cent. “Job seekers have concerns when switching jobs in an uncertain market environment,” adds Shao, “therefore, employers should provide clear information, such as the company’s development plans, promotion prospects, culture and vision, to boost job seekers’ confidence in hiring companies.”

The survey analysed companies with different backgrounds, namely local, Chinese-owned, Hong Kong-based multinationals and overseas-based multinationals, and found that 30 per cent of the first three categories of company planned to hire, which is more than double that of multinational companies (13 per cent). In fact, multinational companies will be more conservative about adding headcounts, with 42 per cent of them still have no plans to hire next year.

Moreover, 12 per cent of surveyed companies believe the employment market will be more active in the second half of 2020, but 23 per cent still expressed uncertainty.

With regard to staff benefits, the survey found that nearly a quarter of employers (24 per cent) in Hong Kong are promoting a Work from Home policy. The vast majority of these companies (83 per cent) allow employees to work from home when public transport is suspended, and 81 per cent will take this measure during severe weather. Other circumstances for Work from Home include difficulty in commuting for other reasons (51 per cent) and personal reasons (49 per cent).

“This survey shows that employers are beginning to embrace and adopt more flexible working policies by allowing staff to work from home. They should also consider more measures for remote working, such as streamlining workflow, providing technical support, as well as purchasing enterprise communication software and equipment, so as to enable working from home and ensure smooth business operations,” concluded Shao.


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