‘Realistic’ considerations for employees in Singapore on wage rises.

Uncertainty among workers.

The latest Asia Salary Guide report from Hays has found that while jobseekers in Singapore have realistic expectations for increments in 2020, they are increasingly uncertain about the relevancy of their skills.

Overall, 60 per cent of employees in Singapore said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their total compensation package in 2019, making their rate of salary satisfaction the highest in Asia after Hong Kong (66 per cent). This satisfaction may be the reason why the majority of employees (59 per cent) did not ask for a raise in the last year, although it must be noted that an increasing number did ask for a raise but without success (19 per cent vs 15 per cent in 2018). This makes them the highest demographic to unsuccessfully do so after Malaysia (24 per cent).

Overall, it is evident that employees and employers in Singapore are largely on the same page when it comes to salary packages. In a continuing trend of lower wage expectations from last year, the majority of employees (52 per cent) are expecting raises between three to six per cent in 2020, which concurs with the majority of employers (71 per cent) who also expect to give increments in this range. In line with the ongoing wage stagnation in Singapore, a significant number of employees (17 per cent) expect to receive no increment at all in 2020, which concurs with a similar number of employers (19 per cent) who expect to give out no increments in 2020.

Salary has also become less important as a retention tool for employees in Singapore, who favoured work/life balance (48 per cent) and management style & company culture (38 per cent) over salary package (37 per cent) as the reason why they would stay with their current employers. Management style & company culture in particular has outperformed ‘career progression’ as a top reason for two years now, showing a distinct change in employee preferences.

But while employees do not seem to be concerned about pay, there is a rising sentiment of uncertainty when it comes to the relevancy of their skills. While the majority of respondents said they were sure their current skill sets would still be in demand five years from now (63 per cent), their numbers were lesser than those who said so in 2018 (69 per cent). Conversely, the number of those who were not sure if their skills would be relevant in five years increased (37 per cent vs 31 per cent in 2018).

Interestingly, a lesser number of Singaporeans valued job security as a reason to stay with their employer as compared to last year (27 per cent vs 33 per cent last year). The uncertainty around skills is thus more likely to be a product of Singapore’s continued advances towards digitalisation rather than ongoing economic uncertainties in the region. However, while the majority of respondents said they spent 1-2 hours upskilling (38 per cent), Singapore still had the highest number of employees who spent zero hours upskilling (26 per cent vs 19 per cent Asia average).

“The clarity of salary expectations between employers and employees in Singapore are testament to its fair employment practices and open working cultures that have become a benchmark for the region,” said Grant Torrens, regional director at Hays Singapore. “Concerns around skills are not unfounded, owing to Singapore’s position as a digital hub that is leading digitalisation efforts in the region. The resulting rapid pace of change will require employees to stay abreast of latest developments and continuously upskill in areas pertaining to digitalisation and change. Considering the government has also realised this need and implemented a number of initiatives to help employees upskill, employers should be more equipped to help employees alleviate these concerns in the coming year.” 

To download your copy of the 2020 Hays Asia Salary Guide, please click here.

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