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Top compensation and benefits trends in Asia



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Non-cash benefits, transparency and mobility and culture are some of the top compensation trends in Southeast Asia today.

“We’re making sure we understand what is relevant, emerging and what’s going on in the market, and whether it works for our culture. You really have to be plugged in to what’s going on there,” said George Avery, director, total compensation and benefits at IBM Asia Pacific.

Avery was speaking at a C&B panel in Human Resources’ annual conference, Talent Management Asia, Singapore, which was moderated by senior journalist Akankasha Dewan.

He added compensation and benefits  practices should also be designed keeping in mind different markets.

You really have to be plugged in to what’s going on  in the market.
– George Avery, director, total compensation and benefits at IBM Asia Pacific

“We have to be aware that in some of these countries sharing pay data is very open and transparent. Whereas, where I come from in the US, that was not a practice I was aware of,” he said.

Firms also have to ensure fairness and transparency when giving out cash benefits such as pay for performance.

“The biggest challenge is that in most companies, 20% of the people are driving 80% of the results. We have to know who they are from an HR standpoint,” Avery said.

“At the end of the day, you have to feel secure that you can have open discussion with your employees about your expectations for them,” he added.

He acknowledged there is also a growing trend towards non-cash approaches.

In terms of employee value proposition, Avery pointed out that cash benefits are insufficient and the “experience of being an employee” is more important.

Coming to non-cash approaches, he stated a standard approach is implausible.

“We have a multi-generational workforce, the one-size-fits-all approach especially for non-cash, does not work anymore,” Avery added.

Srikanth Chandrashekhar, head of talent management, APAC at Pall Corporation echoed Avery’s views.

If you have very talented people who for a variety of reasons cannot move to a different country, how do you make sure that they have the right development opportunities too?
– Srikanth Chandrashekhar, head of talent management, APAC at Pall Corporation

“Some companies I worked for once, they’re still very cash-oriented, but they are starting to think more about benefits and moving more towards moving to non-cash,” he said.

With regards to the multi-generational workforce, Avery advised organisations should be more innovative to keep up to the new generation of workforce.

Chandrashekhar added that it depends on the context, the industry and the culture.

“I think it should be contextual. Just because we have all these people in the workforce, doesn’t mean that we have to make drastic changes in terms of how they interact,” he said.

Additionally, as businesses become more globalised, mobility is becoming increasingly important, especially with the newer generation of workforce.

“The big focus is on mobility, as companies start to operate in different countries. Fresh graduates want to make sure they are part of a global organisation,” Chandrashekhar said.

He added however, that HR leaders need to keep in mind that not everyone may be able to move.

“If you have very talented people who for a variety of reasons cannot move to a different country, how do you make sure that they have the right development opportunities too?” he questioned.

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