85% of Malaysian SMEs surveyed have increased their salaries by at least 3% since the pandemic

At the same time, 41% of respondents pay significantly more than the minimum wage, 46% pay slightly more, and 13% pay the minimum wage for entry-level employees.

The most valuable asset for a company is having the right person for the right job, suggests BrioHR's recent SME Employer Sentiment Survey. However, a prominent challenge noted currently for a new or existing business is assembling a team of highly skilled and talented individuals.

With a focus on SMEs in Malaysia, survey results showed hiring managers are particularly having difficulty finding qualified candidates in the following sectors:

  1. IT (45.7%)
  2. Others (37%)
  3. Marketing (30.4%)
  4. Sales (28.3%) 

Meanwhile, 4.3% of respondents indicated no shortage in these candidates.

Per the survey, the top three preferred methods of recruitment are job listing sites (76.1%), social media (67.4%), and internal referrals (63%). 

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The survey also found that remote working is the preferred option amongst other working arrangements. Currently, more than two years since the pandemic started, nearly half of Malaysian SMEs use hybrid working arrangements; 43% have returned to full-time work; 9% worked entirely from home, and the remaining 48% are on hybrid work arrangements.

In contrast, looking back to the midst of the pandemic, nearly half of survey respondents said their teams were fully remote, with 15% unable to enforce working remotely.

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 Not all SMEs reduced employees' pay during the pandemic

Citing a separate survey, BrioHR noted that that approximately 60% of Malaysians were affected by pay cuts, reduced working hours, and a difficult job search during the peak of the pandemic.

Notably, however, 65% of poll participants did not reduce their employees' pay while the country was in lockdown; while the remaining 35% had to reduce employee pay.

Moving forward, of those who had imposed a salary cut, 53% had restored salaries to pre-pandemic levels, while 37% had given employees a pay raise. Only 10% of workers have returned to pre-pandemic wages, it was further highlighted.

Despite the challenges businesses were faced with around the world, 85% of survey respondents have increased their salaries by 3% to more than 6%.briohr2

At the same time, 41% of respondents now pay "significantly more" than the minimum wage, 46% pay slightly more, and 13% pay the minimum wage for entry-level employees.

Apart from the above, the survey also looked into the pandemic's effect on businesses. While 15% of survey respondents said the pandemic had no impact on their business, 76% indicated otherwise, resulting in either lower sales, higher business expenses, or an uneven cash flow. 9% said their credit availability had been impacted as well.

Meanwhile, 54% of respondents said their business was profitable, 31% said it was losing money, and 15% said it was breaking even.

Lastly, the survey also looked into the required skills when employers hire. One of the most important criterion used to evaluate candidates is interpersonal skills (47%), it was noted. According to survey respondents, employees with strong interpersonal, problem-solving, creative, and innovative skills are difficult to find.

Interestingly, 74% believe that developing a healthy work culture is the most effective way to retain talent and foster a better workplace environment.


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