World of Potential

Morgan McKinley provide insight into jobs market through new work survey

Morgan McKinley have released findings from their ‘2021 World of Work’ survey, an initiative which investigated whether there are any shared sentiments or differences in expectations between employers and the workforce for the coming year. The survey came as part of the company’s interactive Salary Guide Calculator for 2021.

The World of Work survey covered five key areas of the working world – Contracting, Pay Rises, Remote Working, Hiring Plans and Upskilling. It is based on over 6,000 responses from employers and employees globally, representing a range of industries. People were surveyed across Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, Mainland China, Japan, Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.

Findings from the survey include:

New Skills & Upskilling

  • 51 per cent of companies believe that they will need to hire for new skill sets throughout 2021, in order to appropriately react to market changes.
  • Most professionals appear eager to increase their employment value, with 77 per cent planning to upskill in their area of expertise.
  • In order to adapt and be agile in the current markets, companies and professionals alike know that new skills and upskilling will be key to staying competitive.



  • Hiring contractors was important in 2020 to help with business adaptability, and it looks set to continue with a sizable 28 per cent of employers anticipating hiring more contract professionals in 2021.
  • 27 per cent of employees see themselves making the shift from a permanent job to more flexible employment as a contractor in the coming year.
  • We can see from this alignment in 2021 that employers and employees are adapting and continuing to be agile to the big market changes happening in the world at the moment – flexible working options are key to this.


Hiring Plans

  • Almost half (49 per cent) of global businesses are confident that their organisation will return to normal levels of hiring in 2021.
  • Professionals seem to be less optimistic about the resurgence of the recruitment market, with 32 per cent believing that hiring will return to pre-COVID-19 levels in the coming 12 months.
  • Despite the pandemic, almost half of businesses are planning on returning to normal hiring levels in 2021. Companies have adapted to current market circumstances with changes like remote working, as well as the need to continue with their business plans despite the turbulent market. Although only a third of employees felt the same way, there will clearly be job opportunities in 2021.


Pay Rises

  • Over half of employers (51 per cent) feel confident that they will be in a position to offer pay rises in 2021.
  • Only 28 per cent of employees are optimistic about being offered an increased salary.
  • It will be important for companies to retain their talent in 2021 in order to have the capability to adapt to the current market and stay competitive. While employees may feel differently about the prospects of a pay rise, the stats show that there will be that opportunity from the employers’


Remote Working

  • The vast majority (89 per cent) of businesses envisage remote working to continue to some extent into the second half of 2021.
  • Professionals share this perception; 86 per cent of employees also think working from home will remain largely prominent.
  • It looks like remote working is here to stay in 2021, and employers and employees are aligned in their perspectives on this. The big question is whether companies will ever go back with an ‘office-space’ approach or is remote working here to stay permanently?


“After an extraordinary 2020, the pandemic and subsequent economic fallout has had an impact on salaries across key core markets in Singapore,” commented Gurj Sandhu, managing director, Morgan McKinley. “Traditional roles across financial services and commerce saw a dramatic slowdown in demand and increased supply which has had a knock-on negative effect on salaries. The inverse was true for high growth new skills and sectors across technology, FinTechs and start-ups. This was the general case across both permanent and contract hiring.

“Clearly, we’re not out of the woods when it comes to the pandemic,” Sandra says, “however, the good news is the Singapore Government has done an exceptional job in containing the spread so far, as well as their strategic investment and policies in future proofing skills and sectors. Alongside this, the vaccine roll-out is well under way, all of which combine to offer the market great hope and confidence for 2021 and beyond.

“No doubt all businesses and organisations have already laid out their strategic plans for 2021, which will rely heavily on their existing or new talent pools, but it is important that they ensure they are paying the correct market rates for current and incoming employees.”

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