The times, they are unsettlin'. According to a broad survey by the Classified Post, six out of every 10 Hong Kong employees plan to jump ship over the next six months, while more than 50 per cent are eyeing a pay rise of 6 per cent - to as high as 30 per cent - next year.
The study, the first of its kind for the Classified Post, surveyed almost 3,600 respondents from various positions, sectors and academic backgrounds.
The survey was conducted between July and the end of September. A parallel study was done by Classified Post's sister publication, the Chinese-language Jiu Jik, focusing on other market segments.
Close to 40 per cent of the online survey respondents reported earnings of HK$20,000 to HK$40,000 a month. About 36 per cent make more than HK$40,000.
The three waves of surveys were done over the third quarter of 2011, amid the economic pessimism that has been mounting due to the unravelling European sovereign debt crisis, the slowdown in the Chinese property market and the broader mainland economy, the US$2.9 billion "rogue trading" loss at UBS, and HSBC's announcement of 3,000 job cuts over three years in Hong Kong. On a brighter note, the "Arab Spring" that has toppled dictatorships in some Middle Eastern countries pointed to a likely drop in oil prices, which could help lubricate a global economic recovery.
Indeed, more than 52 per cent of the respondents expect a salary rise of 6 per cent to more than 30 per cent over the next fiscal year. This apparently reflects the health of Hong Kong's economy, which has stayed on an even keel amid global uncertainties. In contrast, 48 per cent of the respondents expect a salary increase next year of 5 per cent or below.
The most confident groups in terms of salary expectations came from opposite income extremes, with 4.5 per cent of those earning below HK$20,000 a month and 3.8 per cent of those earning above HK$60,000, eyeing a salary jump of more than 30 per cent over the next fiscal year.
In terms of job mobility, the most likely to leave their company over the next six months are those making less than HK$20,000 monthly (62.2 per cent), indicating a strong belief among these respondents that they can boost their pay by changing jobs or employers.
For the long term, the survey aims to track salary expectations and job mobility among Hong Kong's workers. It will evolve through time, offering trends to both the private and public sectors - including educational institutions - that could be used in human resources planning.
"The South China Morning Post's Classified Post is a service to both job-seekers and recruiters. Since they both use Classified Post as a `community' to find each other, survey data from this community should be very relevant to them in their search for jobs and for salary planning, respectively," says Stanley Suen, director, recruitment services, at SCMP, which publishes Classified Post and Jiu Jik.
He says the paper's access to premium job-seekers facilitates some of the market's most comprehensive survey data. "We believe we can develop one of the best salary surveys in Hong Kong," Suen adds.
The results of the survey will eventually be available online which could help educators and policy-makers in drawing up long-term strategies. "We hope to provide quarterly trends to job-seekers and recruiters so they can be more informed and we can help bridge the salary-expectations gap," Suen adds.
As Classified Post boosts its data based on the quarterly survey, it hopes to offer more detailed analysis of the results, by looking into specific occupations, job positions, sectors and industries.