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Singapore saw 12% rise in worker-senior manager pay gap between 2008 to 2017: Korn Ferry

SINGAPORE had the fourth-biggest increase in the average pay gap between lower-level employees and senior managers in the Asia-Pacific region, according to data from management consultant firm Korn Ferry. 

The country saw a 12.1 per cent rise in the pay gap from 2008 to 2017, but this was lower than the average increase of 15.5 per cent across the Asia-Pacific, the study noted.

In the region, moderate increases in pay gap were seen in eight out of nine countries studied. These are China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

India saw the biggest jump,with the pay gap widening by 66 per cent, followed by Malaysia at 14.7 per cent and Indonesia at 12.7 per cent.

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Meanwhile, countries with the lowest pay gap are Hong Kong at 2.2 per cent,  China at 2.65 per cent and Korea at 4.3 per cent. 

Bob Wesselkamper, Korn Ferry’s global head of rewards and benefits solutions, attributed widening pay gap to slower increases in pay for lower-level workers as the result of automation and offshoring – which means more people than jobs due to the abundance of available labour.

At the senior end of the jobs scale, there is a shortage of talent with important hard skills and proven experience such as those in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“Organisations also have to compete for senior managers with in-demand soft skills, such as emotional intelligence, creative thinking and the ability to manage large and complex teams. Therefore, pay at this level is going up – and is likely to increase faster than other jobs,” Mr Wesselkamper said.

In the Asia-Pacific, salaries at senior levels have also risen steadily due to increasing need for talent able to grow businesses and take organisations global, said the report. Meanwhile, economic and inflationary growth has also contributed to "significant" pay rises at lower levels – leading to moderation of the pay gap in the region.it added.

"Going forward, as businesses feel the pressure of technological disruption and the crunch of good middle and top-level leaders, the gap might widen at a faster pace," Korn Ferry Singapore associate client partner Kartikey Singh said.