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Money may not be enough to retain talent in Asia in the long run

Money may not be enough to retain talent in Asia in the long run


In fact, even during the recruitment process, job seekers say a negative experience is enough to make them turn down an attractive offer.

Despite a possible economic slowdown, 2023 remains to be a jobseekers’ market in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, according to a new study by SEEK, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), and The Network.

Titled What Job Seekers Wish Employers Knew: Unlocking the Future of Recruitment, the study surveyed 97,324 respondents in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines, and found that 34% of the talent surveyed in Hong Kong are actively looking for a new job. 

On the other hand, 68% of Hong Kong respondents had been approached with job opportunities multiple times in a year, with over half (58%) of respondents saying they were not actively looking for work, yet open to attractive offers.

Data from the other surveyed markets:

MarketActively looking for a new job

Not actively looking for work, yet open to attractive offers

Having been approached with job opportunities multiple times in a year 

The competition for top talent in Hong Kong remains fierce, yet jobseekers in the city exhibit lower confidence compared to their global counterparts. 'Digitalisation, data science and AI', 'information technology', and 'business management' were the most sought job function, with more than 80% reporting to have received job opportunities multiple times per year.

Only 6% of respondents feel they have all the power when negotiating with employers, significantly lower than the global average of 19%. Even though IT roles are among the three most sought-after job functions, respondents in the field expressed the least confidence in negotiations, with only 3% feeling completely in control.

What job seekers are looking for

While salary is still a deal breaker when accepting an offer, 17% of respondents in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia cited work-life balance as the top consideration, ranking second only after financial compensation (22%), followed by the amount of paid time off and job security.

jobsdb recruitment report 2023

People are increasingly preferring to 'work to live' rather than 'live to work', with over two-thirds (67%) of Hong Kong respondents seeing a stable job with good work-life balance as their top long-term motivation and ideal career path.

According to the study, the top three motivations for searching for a new job are:

  1. looking for a more interesting position or higher seniority (49%),
  2. lacking opportunities for upward career progress at the current place (30%), and
  3. being unsatisfied with salary and benefits at the current job (27%).

Peter Bithos, Chief Executive Officer, Asia, SEEK, commented on the findings, “When faced with a possible recession, the balance of power in the labour market tends to shift towards employers as hiring tightens. However, we believe the situation is different this time as many organisations in Asia are still recovering from the jobs lost during the pandemic. While hiring growth may slow down during times of uncertainty, there is no doubt that it is still a jobseekers’ market right now, and so it’s important for employers to know how to attract, recruit and retain talent.”

Recruitment experience should not be overlooked

Having an appealing job ad tends to be an overlooked aspect when it comes to drawing in talent. Respondents pointed out that clear and concise job ads are immensely beneficial; with most of the respondents preferring job ads with a salary range included (Hong Kong: 33%; Singapore: 42%; Malaysia: 49%; Thailand: 31%; Indonesia: 40%; and the Philippines: 53%), followed by a detailed description of job duties.

While an attractive offer is important, it is not the only determining factor in a job decision. According to survey results, a majority of respondents indicated that they would reject a good offer if they encountered a negative experience during the selection process, such as discriminatory questions or poor chemistry with the interviewers (Hong Kong: 52%; Singapore: 55%; Malaysia: 54%; Thailand: 35%; Indonesia: 43%; and the Philippines: 52%). Similarly, they would decline a good offer due to an unprofessional selection process, such as being too slow or unorganised.

Bill Lee, Managing Director of JobsDB Hong Kong, advised employers to tinker with their recruitment processes to appeal to jobseekers. "To effectively attract talent, employers must adjust to fit these changing demands. Proactive steps can make a difference," said Lee.

"Meanwhile, word of mouth is a powerful tool as recommendations from friends or professional acquaintances can often be the deciding factor when convincing a candidate to join. Once they are interested, most will look for further information through social media and company websites, to get an overview of the company’s values and culture, showing that a strong online presence can help spark jobseekers’ interest.”

Lead image / Shutterstock
In-line image / Report

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