Many experts believe that stock markets will recover in 2023 as the threat of global inflation subsides, and interest rates eventually follow suit. While there are still economic challenges, we have seen some interesting trends emerging in the APAC employment market. On the one hand, we have employees actively looking for better salaries while employers struggle to retain key personnel.


Overall trends in the APAC employment market


Before we look at salary expectations in more detail, the 2023 Hays Asia Salary Guide casts a fascinating light on the APAC employment market. Here are some of the takeaway statistics:-


· 77% of respondents intended to leave their jobs for better salaries

· 29% of the Asia workforce is actively seeking employment

· Salary remains the most important motivator for employees


This active employment market will eventually push up running costs for businesses as they clamour to secure the most talented personnel. This will filter through to service and product costs, with companies and consumers likely to share cost increases.


Salary expectations across the APAC region


It will come as no surprise to learn that salary expectations, employees v employers, vary markedly across the region. We will now look at the results published in the 2023 Hays Asia Salary Guide.




Interestingly, while the Chinese employment market is often seen as relatively controlled, the expectations of employees and employers vary markedly when it comes to salary:-


· Decrease in salary, employees 0.4%, employers 4.1%

· Stay the same, employees 6.4%, employers 23.6%

· Increase of between 3% and 6%, employees 16.5%, employers 33.8%

· Increase of over 10%, employees 46.6%, employers 6.6%


This gives you a snapshot of the current marketplace, although the divergence between employee and employer expectations begins to widen between increases of 6% to 10% and over 10%. Any significant salary increases across-the-board could reignite inflation.


Hong Kong


The situation in Hong Kong is slightly more muted than China's, especially towards the higher end of expectations, although this may be a consequence of relatively high base salaries. The following is a summary:-


· Decrease in salary, employees 2.2%, employers 2.5%

· Stay the same, employees 14.6%, employers 20.9%

· Increase of between 3% and 6%, employees 25.4%, employers 26.6%

· Increase of over 10%, employees 22%, employers 10.4%


Overall, 31% of employers expect to increase salaries by up to 3% against expectations of just 22.7% from employees. While there is some divergence towards the top end, this is nowhere near as large as that seen in the Chinese employment market.




According to these figures, the Malaysian employment market would appear to be the "hottest" in the region.


· Decrease in salary, employees 1.2%, employers 0.8%

· Stay the same, employees 11.9%, employers 10.8%

· Increase of between 3% and 6%, employees 25.3%, employers 36%

· Increase of over 10%, employees 28.6%, employers 10.8%


It isn't easy to see how an increase in salaries of over 10% can immediately be passed onto consumers without impacting sales and, ultimately, profits. However, the figures for Malaysia also suggest that employers are primed for a significant increase in their cost base.




The threat of inflation is expected to subside in 2023, but if most employers meet employee expectations about salary, could this prompt another round of unwelcome inflation?

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