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How Hong Kong employers will hire and pay in 2024: Five trends to note

How Hong Kong employers will hire and pay in 2024: Five trends to note

An average pay increase of 2.2%, more part-time workforce, and more.

While the labour market rebounds, more than two-thirds (69%) of employers among 407 surveyed corporations across 41 industries in Hong Kong acknowledged challenges in recruitment, according to the latest research by JobsDB.

The top three reasons are:

  • Difficulty in recruiting capable talent (60%),
  • Raised expectations for salary and benefits (58%), and
  • Difficulty in recruiting experienced talent (48%).

To attract and retain valuable talent, as well as to cater to business needs, employers are adopting diverse strategies.

Here are the five main hiring as well as compensation & benefit trends for 2024, as identified in the survey.

1. Businesses are implementing “special retention measures”

A striking 78% of the surveyed companies are implementing “special retention measures” to retain valuable talent. The most common approaches used to retain employees include offering pay raises (44%) and enhancing benefits (33%, with an annual increment of 11 percentage points).

The findings also revealed that employers are anticipating an average pay increase of +2.2% in 2024, reflecting a rebound of 0.6 percentage points compared to the +1.6% in 2023.

The industries with the highest salary increments are undergoing significant reshuffling. The top three industries projected to have the highest salary growth rates in the upcoming year are:

  1. Building & construction (+4.4%),
  2. Food and beverage (+4.2%), and
  3. FinTech (non-cryptocurrency) (+3.9%).

The information technology industry, which has consistently held the top two positions in the past three years, however, has dropped to ninth place this year with a +3.0% increase.

On the other hand, 62% of companies have provided bonuses in the past 12 months, similar to last year. More than a third (36%) offered guaranteed bonuses, up by 13 percentage points year-on-year.

2. Work-life balance as an increasingly important strategy

Over half (51%) of surveyed businesses prioritised “attractive salary / compensation” as the cornerstone of their attraction strategy, closely trailed by “promotion of work-life balance” (29%) and “good working environment / facilities” (29%).

The commitment towards fostering work-life balance continues to gain traction with notable increases seen in certain benefits. For example, the inclusion of “entertainment/ physical fitness facilities at workplace” has risen by eight percentage points annually, while the adoption of "4/4.5-day working days per week" has increased by six percentage points annually.

3. Demands for full-time employees remains, while the hiring of part-time staff and fresh graduates increases

According to the survey findings, 30% of employers indicated plans to expand their full-time workforce in the first quarter of the coming year, marking a four-percentage-point increase compared to Q1 2023.

Meanwhile employers intending to reduce their full-time staff remain at 4%, suggesting a continued demand for full-time employees in the upcoming year.

The report further highlighted that 20% of employers plan to hire full-time retail salespersons, making it the occupation with the highest anticipated demand for full-time positions.

In response to the challenges of recruiting full-time employees, employers are considering alternative approaches, such as increasing the hiring of part-time staff. The percentage of businesses planning to expand their part-time workforce in the first quarter of the upcoming year has witnessed a notable year-on-year surge of seven percentage points, standing at 22%.

The main drivers behind this trend of a growing part-time workforce include:

  • Hiring part-time/ temporary staff for flexible work arrangement (43%),
  • Difficulty in recruiting qualified full-time candidates (39%), and
  • Saving staff cost (33%).

The survey report also revealed that 56% of local surveyed companies hired fresh graduates in the past 12 months as a valuable addition to their workforce. This indicates a growing propensity among companies to invest in manpower and resources to train and cultivate young professionals in the workplace.

Distinct recruitment strategies are being pursued by companies of varied magnitudes amidst economic uncertainties.

The survey highlighted the proactive recruitment stance of local companies, surpassing the multinational counterparts. Notably, 34% of local enterprises are poised to expand their workforce in the first quarter of 2024. Conversely, multinational corporations, potentially influenced by a subdued global economic landscape, exhibit a more cautious approach, with a mere 19% planning for manpower expansion, while a majority (58%) intend to maintain current staffing levels.

4. Growing trend of hiring non-local professionals

In addition to local talent, enterprises are proactively exploring non-local talent. An impressive 63% of the surveyed companies showed a deliberate intention to engage mainland talent, representing a substantial nine-percentage-point increase compared to the previous year, with a particular emphasis on non-managerial roles.

Similarly, 60% of the surveyed firms voiced a discerning interest in recruiting overseas talent, reflecting a five-percentage-point increase from the previous year, mainly targeting middle management roles in their international recruitment endeavours.

The report further highlighted that 8% of the surveyed companies have strategic plans to relocate a portion of their operations to different regions.

While Mainland China (48%) and Singapore (33%) remain the preferred locales, Singapore's has experienced a decline of four points compared to previous years. Notably, Macao has emerged as a new contender, securing the third spot at 21%.

The departments most earmarked for relocation include:

  • Planning and strategic (28%),
  • Production (28%), and
  • Customer services (27%)

This indicated a growing trend of enterprises not merely considering overseas translocation, but also exploring the prospect of shifting specific business functions to operate within the Greater Bay Area.

5. The emergence of AI will not affect the recruitment needs of companies

While many people worry that AI will replace human jobs, the survey reflected that only 8% of the surveyed companies believe that AI adoption can reduce recruitment needs. More than 70% of the surveyed companies believe that the emergence of AI will not affect the recruitment needs of the company.

In fact, more than half (54%) of the companies that have adopted AI said that they tend to hire more employees after introducing AI, defying previous expectations.

Furthermore, the report underscores three significant challenges encountered by enterprises in AI implementation, namely:

  • Lack of experience in communicating with AI (48%),
  • Concerns about data privacy and ethics (37%), and
  • Cost of implementation (35%).

"Employers should invest in AI upskilling programmes and provide relevant skill enhancement courses to facilitate employee adaptation to the evolving technology. It is also crucial for employers to establish AI usage guidelines and ethical frameworks to ensure the safe and responsible utilisation of AI by employees," noted Bill Lee, Managing Director of JobsDB Hong Kong.


Lead image / 123RF

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