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Singapore pay hikes to stay conservative: poll

[SINGAPORE] Salary hikes in Singapore are likely to remain conservative, even as pressing issues such as a shortage of skills and staff turnover continue to persist in the coming year.

So says a new report on the salary and employment forecast for Singapore this year by UK-based recruitment consultancy firm Michael Page, which polled more than 300 companies here.

The findings, released yesterday, showed that seven in 10 employers planned to give their staff a one to 5 per cent pay increase over the next 12 months.

Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) said that they would hand out a 6 to 10 per cent increase, while only 7 per cent said that they would pay 11 per cent or higher.

Some 74 per cent of employers said that all their staff would get an increase of some sort, but this would vary according to their performance. Five per cent, however, said that they would not give any raises at all.

This comes as employers expect to continue to struggle with the double whammy of a manpower shortage and staff turnover, said the report.

Nearly half of those surveyed, or 48 per cent, expect professional skills shortages, a six percentage point increase from last year.

Some 53 per cent, meanwhile, say that staff turnover will persist. This is a slight decrease from the 56 per cent that said so last year.

"While Singapore's employment market will continue to be active during 2014, employers are generally adopting a more considered approach with tighter controls around the recruitment process to make sure professionals are the right fit for their organisation," said PageGroup Singapore managing director Jerome Bouin.

"This approach, coupled with effective retention strategies, will be key to addressing staff turnover and the shortage of talent over the coming year," he added.

Mr Bouin remarked that the fact that Singapore continues to enjoy an influx of companies looking to establish themselves regionally was likely to help sustain the demand for skilled professionals.

"This demand is expected to see organisations lean towards hiring local talent as tighter local regulations make it harder to employ foreign professionals. As a result, attraction and retention strategies including offering employee benefits will take greater prominence," he said.

According to the survey findings, work-life balance options and employee benefits will be offered by some employers this year to retain their staff.

The top options they listed were flexible working arrangements (63 per cent), team building and off-site activities (46 per cent) and increased maternity and paternity leave (24 per cent).

And when it comes to dishing out bonuses as a retention tool, the vast majority of companies indicated they were willing to put their money where their mouth is.

Ninety per cent of employers said that they expect to award staff bonuses in the coming year, in addition to training and career progression opportunities.