With Hong Kong inflation at close to 6 per cent, many employees anticipating a wage increase to keep pace with rising prices are out of sync with their employers.
According to the 2011 Hays Salary Guide, 59 per cent of Hong Kong employers intend to increase salaries in their next review by between 3 per cent and 6 per cent, while 18 per cent will offer increases above 6 per cent. Meanwhile, 23 per cent intend to increase salaries by less than 3 per cent.
Feedback from 541 employees in Hong Kong and China showed that 26 per cent expect their salary to rise by less than 3 per cent. Meanwhile, 29 per cent expect an increase of between 3 per cent and 6 per cent, and 45 per cent expect an increase above 6 per cent.
Emma Charnock, regional director of Hays in Hong Kong and China, says plans of employers to raise salaries vary across industries. "Middle office roles such as compliance and risk in the banking and finance sectors, non-banking IT and mainland manufacturing segments that are showing growth, are the main sectors in which employers are planning to raise salaries," says Charnock.
Salary increases, she adds, are also on offer for specialist roles or positions for which there is a limited pool of viable candidates.
Where employers and employees differ on the amount of a salary increase, Charnock says an increasing number of employers are offering work-life balance improvements as an alternative.
"On the mainland, employees still focus on the dollar, whereas in Hong Kong, there is a movement towards work-life balance benefits. In areas such as investment banking, we are even seeing work-life balance specialists being hired as part of their human resources function," says Charnock.
Even if employees fail to secure the salary increase they are looking for, Charnock says she doesn't anticipate above-normal movement in the job market. "With Christmas approaching and Chinese New Year just over the horizon, most employees will be staying put, rather than contemplating a job change," says Charnock.
For employees seeking a raise, she suggests preparing a list of recent achievements that exceed job description objectives, and highlighting the resultant benefits to the company. "State the salary you feel your performance and results are worth, and back it up with evidence from a salary guide to show it is in line with market rates."
Charnock also recommends having a fallback plan. For example, requesting another pay review in three or six months if an employer cannot afford a raise, or asking additional annual leave, study and other fringe benefits.