Member News: Hays Salary Guide reveals China’s salary increases are the most generous in Asia

Hays Salary Guide reveals China’s salary increases are the most generous in Asia

  • Most employers (44 per cent) in China plan salary increases of  six to ten per cent this year
  • Salary and benefits push Chinese employees to seek jobs ,but work-life balance is the top reason to stay with a current employer
  • China leads in promoting women into management, following Malaysia, but lags behind in cultural diversity

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

The Guide reveals the majority of employers in China (44 per cent) plan increases of six to ten per cent in the next review period and 29 per cent plan increases of three to sixth per cent.

“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, China’s employers will need to focus more attention on other strategies such as  encouraging a more diversified workforce and remaining open to recruiting from overseas,” said Christine.


The Guide shows that China remains the standout for salary increases, as it was last year. In China, one in two (50 per cent) employers increased salaries in their last review by between six and ten per cent, and a further 13 per cent increased above that level. Compared to the employers’ forecast in the 2015 Salary Guide, 50 per cent of employers intended to increase salary between six and ten per cent, while 20 per cent of employers planed to increase above that level. Hence the reality is less employers offered salary increases over ten per cent.

In addition to the salary intentions reported above, the Hays Asia Salary Guide this yearshows that a further 16 per cent of employers in China plan to increase salaries this year by more than ten per cent, while only four per cent do not plan to make 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 ten per cent. Conversely 63 per cent of employers in Japan plan increases of only up to three per cent. Like Singapore, the majority of employers in Hong Kong and Malaysia 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/travel allowance, and a pension (each offered by 33 per cent of employers).


In the coming year 63 per cent of employers intend to award 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 to award 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, 13 per cent from 51 to 99 per cent, and 10 per cent plan to award 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 China  

The Guide reveals that searching for a better salary and benefits package is the key reason most candidates in China (41 per cent) start job hunting. When asked what keeps them in a job, almost half (49 per cent) of the candidates in China nominated work-life balance while 39 per cent nominated career progression and 38 per cent the management and company culture.

As mentioned, China follows Malaysia’s lead in promoting women into management with 32 per cent of management positions held by women, compared to 37 per cent in Malaysia, 28 per cent in Hong Kong, 27 per cent in Singapore, and 19 per cent in Japan.

However China’s workforce is the least culturally diverse with only 8 per cent of roles held by foreign employees compared to 28 per cent in Singapore, 18 per cent in Hong Kong, 15 per cent in Malaysia, and nine per cent in Japan. A higher level of labour market flexibility is critical to filling roles in areas of skills shortages.

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

by Gabriella Yan News