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While salary increments and bonuses suffered due to the economic climate last year, they are expected to bounce back in 2022.

Links International's 2022 Hong Kong Salary guide analysed how different businesses are approaching flexible working and the direction for the future of work, while also looking at employment trends across eight different industries including banking and finance, and human resources and administration.

"With the transforming market, businesses will need to restructure their internal operations to stay competitive. We foresee that if companies do not begin implementing a flexible work model, outsourcing areas of their business, or adopting new technologies to transform processes, they will find it difficult to attract the talent needed to grow and develop their business," said Scott Thomson, Managing Director at Links International in the opening remarks of the report. "Taking an efficient and agile approach will be increasingly important as we move into a new world of work."

The traditional world of work has been reimagined. Over two-thirds of businesses in Hong Kong are practicing remote working and over 76% have fast-tracked plans to move data onto a cloud-based model to accommodate flexible working, according to data sighted in the report.

Here, we break down trends by industry.

Human resources, administration and business support

Trends

  • The market for the HR and administration function is currently an employer-driven one, with around a 50/50 split between contract and permanent job offerings. Although candidates prefer full-time job offers, most are willing to take up contract roles as they accept the reality of the current market.

  • Businesses are making strategic moves by relocating some senior HR positions out of Hong Kong to locations that are driving growth.

  • HR and admin professionals are unlikely to see any significant salary increments at the end of the year. Bonuses are likely to be limited and could be based on the business and employee’s performance.

Declining job roles – HR & admin

  • Executive assistant – One-on-one personal assistants to senior-ranking executives.
  • Single functioning HR – HR professionals focused on certain areas (excluding HRIS and mobility).

Hot job roles – HR & admin

  • HR generalist – Multifunction HR professionals adept at the whole HR spectrum.
  • Team assistant – Administrative assistants to multiple senior company executives.
  • HRIS specialist – HR professionals with experience in the full implementation of HRIS systems.
  • HR mobility specialist – Experts on multi-country policies and legislation for relocation of employee’s purposes.

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Banking, finance & accounting

Trends

  • Hong Kong is pushing for greater integration with Mainland China with the Greater Bay Area (GBA) project taking centre stage and predicted to play a big role in enhancing financial connectivity in the region.

  • An increasing number of Chinese fintech businesses have expanded their operations in Hong Kong to test cross-border fintech tools and grow their business outside the Mainland. As financial technology grows in popularity, the need for talent with experience in fintech will only continue its upward trajectory.

  • With the outlook for 2022 looking positive, bonuses and salary increments are expected to be considerably better than last year but will still lag behind bonuses seen before the pandemic.

Hot job roles – BFA

  • Finance business partner
  • Finance transformation role
  • Accounting system implementation
  • Business strategy manager

Declining job roles – BFA

  • Operations accounting roles

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Information technology

Trends

  • The IT market is skewed convincingly towards the candidate due to the disproportion between talent available and demand. As a result, IT candidates know their value and are demanding better benefits and higher salaries. Candidates specialising in high demand roles are looking for as much as 25% or higher salary increments to move to new roles.

  • With Hong Kong wishing to strengthen innovation and technology, the city will be developing more science and technology parks including the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park (HSITP) to expand its R&D capabilities. The heavy emphasis on tech development will only drive up demand for IT talent for the foreseeable future, keeping the market strong for years to come.

  • Most IT professionals should be expecting year-end bonuses with stronger performing industries like finance and insurance anticipating two–three-month bonuses. 5-8% salary adjustments will be standard with much higher increments for talent moving to new opportunities.

Hot job roles – IT

  • Cloud architect/specialists – Cloud professionals experienced with AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and AliCloud.
  • Data analysts/scientists
  • Cybersecurity analyst/consultant

Steady job roles – IT

  • Front-end/back-end developers
  • Mobile/web app developers
  • Manual/automation testers

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Sales & marketing

Trends

  • More sales and marketing professionals are seeking opportunities that offer flexible working opportunities. This is especially true for roles in digital marketing and eCommerce as tasks can generally be fulfilled remotely.

  • Salary increments and bonuses are generally expected to make a return but will remain subdued. The industry will dictate how large bonuses and increments are, as various industries are still feeling the strains from the pandemic. Although people are more willing to move, they continue to be cautious and are not willing to take risks and take up job roles that could potentially be unstable.

Hot job roles – sales and marketing

  • Customer lifecycle/growth marketing specialists
  • eCommerce specialists
  • Social media specialists

Declining job roles – sales and marketing

  • Marketing communications
  • Events marketing

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Sourcing, supply chain and manufacturing 

Trends

  • Candidates in the sourcing, manufacturing, and supply chain function still consider job security as one of the most important factors. They are particularly concerned with a company’s long-term strategy, business outlook, and whether they have any plans to relocate.
  • An increasing number of candidates are asking whether the hiring company offers flexible working. In a function where the idea of working from home was previously rare, we are seeing even the more traditional functions evolving to meet the remote working trend.
  • Last year, salary increments were either very low or non-existent and as much as 80-90% of professionals received no bonuses for the tough year. Although both bonuses and salary increments are expected to make a return, they are likely to be unspectacular. Bonuses will not return to pre-COVID levels and will most likely be based on performance.

Hot job roles/industries 
  • Mass market retailer – Large global retailers are ramping up hiring as the local consumer market has been strong.
  • Local construction industry roles
  • System implementation specialists – Experienced ERP and PLM integration experts are in strong demand.
Declining job roles/industries 
  • Quality assurance/quality control – Manufacturing QA/QC roles are currently in low demand due to supply chain strains.
  • Traditional merchandiser/sourcing roles – Traditional merchandising and sourcing roles are still feeling the impacts of the pandemic and will take longer to recover.

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Life sciences & healthcare

Trends

  • The growth of the life sciences and healthcare sector is attracting more talent from different industries. Working professionals are actively seeking to change career paths as they recognise that a career in life sciences/healthcare is a great long-term bet.
  • Workers in life sciences and healthcare can expect bonuses and salary increments to be at the top end of the scale. As talent is still in short supply, healthcare corporations are willing to offer increments of over 20% to entice the right talent to move.

Hot job roles – life science & healthcare

  • Regulatory affairs specialist
  • Medical science liaison
  • Biotech technician

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Legal

Trends

  • Legal talent with highly proficient/native Mandarin skills has been in high demand. Mainland law firms have been highly active with many setting up or expanding operations in Hong Kong.

  • The strength of the tech market is causing a spike in demand for legal professionals with tech industry regulatory experience. This is especially true in fintech where we are seeing a crypto and NFT market boom.

  • Bonuses and salary increments are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels. Talent changing jobs can expect to receive increments well over 10% as firms battle for the best on the market.

Hot job roles – Legal

  • Data privacy lawyer
  • TMT lawyer
  • M&A lawyer
  • Litigation lawyer

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ASLO READ: Employees leaving Hong Kong: What can employers do to recruit and retain staff?


Photos / 123rf for the lead, and Links International for all tables

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