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Hays Salary Guide reveals modest salary climate for Malaysia’s workforce

2016 SG

• Most employers (46 per cent) in Malaysia plan salary increases of three to six per cent this year
• Salary & benefits push Malaysian employees to job search and are also the top reason for staying with a current employer
• Malaysia leads the countries surveyed on the percentage of women in management

Candidates should look beyond salary this year to focus on professional development opportunities as employers plan only modest salary increases this year, according to recruiting experts Hays.

The 2016 Hays Asia Salary Guide, released today, reveals the majority of employers in Malaysia (46 per cent) plan increases of three to six per cent in the next review period and 11 per cent plan increases of only up to three per cent.

The Hays Salary Guide highlights salary and recruiting trends drawn from more than 3,000 employers across Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, China and Japan representing six million employees as well as the salary ranges for more than 1,200 roles.

“We will see some tension this year between employers taking a cautious approach to salaries to help navigate economic conditions in the region more generally and candidates hungry for advancement,” says Christine Wright, Managing Director of Hays in Asia.

“To make the best of these conditions, candidates should do their research thoroughly before pitching for salary and give more weight to other benefits such as career development opportunities that will pay off when the salary climate is more favourable to candidates.”

“Employers are telling us they expect skills shortages to be a challenge this year and while this will only add to salary pressures we expect most employers to still keep salaries in check. To fill shortages, Malaysian employers will need to focus more attention on other strategies such as training and development and remaining open to recruiting from overseas,” said Christine.

In addition to the salary intentions reported above, the Hays Asia Salary Guide shows that a further 29 per cent of employers in Malaysia plan to increase salaries this year by six to 10 per cent. A further 10 per cent plan increases above 10 per cent while only four per cent do not plan any increases.

Looking at the next review period by country, China leads the salary field with 60 per cent of employers planning to increase salaries by six to 10 per cent. Conversely 63 per cent of employers in Japan plan increases of only up to three per cent. Like Malaysia, the majority of employers in Singapore and Hong Kong plan salary increases of between three and six per cent.

Across all countries, 84 per cent of employers provide staff benefits in addition to salary and bonuses. Health/medical is the most commonly offered benefit (78 per cent of employers) followed by life assurance (42 per cent), a car/car allowance and a pension (each offered by 33 per cent of employers).

In the coming year 63 per cent of employers intend awarding staff bonuses. When asked to nominate the one or more factors influencing bonuses, 95 per cent of employers cited “company performance”, 92 per cent “individual performance” and 37 per cent “team performance”. Only 10 per cent of employers guarantee bonuses. In terms of the value of bonuses, 33 per cent of employers intend awarding up to 10 per cent of staff salary as a bonus, 44 per cent plan to award 11 to 50 per cent of salary as a bonus and 13 per cent from 51 to 99 per cent and 10 per cent 100 per cent of staff salary as a bonus.

Most (60 per cent) employers expect business activity to increase this year. Over the next year 43 per cent of employers expect to hire more permanent staff while 46 per cent will maintain current staffing levels.

60 per cent of employers have used flexible staffing such as temps/contractors in the past year and 19 per cent plan to increase their use of temporary staffing this year.

Other key findings for Malaysia
The Guide reveals that searching for a better salary and benefits package is the key reason most candidates in Malaysia (53 per cent) start job hunting. When asked what keeps them in a job, 42 per cent of candidates nominated salary and benefits as well, while 34 per cent nominated work-life balance and 34 per cent career progression.

Malaysia’s workforce is less culturally diverse than some of the other countries surveyed with 15 per cent of roles held by foreign employees compared to 28 per cent in Singapore, 18 per cent in Hong Kong, nine per cent in Japan and eight per cent in China. A higher level of labour market flexibility is critical to filling roles in areas of skills shortage.

However, in this year’s survey, Malaysia resumed the top spot for the number of management roles held by women, which is 37 per cent in Malaysia, compared to 32 per cent in China, 28 per cent in Hong Kong and 27 per cent in Singapore. Women in Japan hold only 19 per cent of management roles.

Get your copy of the 2016 Hays Asia Salary Guide by visiting, contacting your local Hays office or downloading The Hays Salary Guide 2016 iPhone app from iTunes.

Hays is located in Kuala Lumpur at Suite 4 & 5, Level 23, Menara 3, Petronas, Kuala Lumpur City Centre. Phone +60 3 2786 8600 or email

Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.

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For further information please contact Kerryn Celine, Senior Marketing Executive - South East Asia at Hays, on +61 2 8226 9844 or


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