2019 has been a rather tumultuous year for Hong Kong. The ongoing trade war between US and China combined with six straight months of civil unrest has brought forth many uncertainties as we head into 2020. Despite this, global HR services leader, Randstad, remains cautiously optimistic that Hong Kong SAR will slowly regain its place as Asia’s global financial hub. The Greater Bay Area (GBA) in particular is already drawing much international attention, along with calls from the global business community to continue to invest in Hong Kong SAR.

According to Randstad’s 2020 Market Outlook and Salary Snapshot report, unemployment rate remains at around 3 percent while employee candidates are expressing more caution heading into 2020. As such, Hong Kong can expect a lower appetite for changing jobs. This will translate in harder times for HR managers in finding top talent in the market.

Investments are predicted to remain low for the first few months of 2020. Companies may put expansion plans on hold to compensate. Certain regional roles may be relocated to other cities such as Shanghai or Singapore to minimise business disruption.

Hong Kong SAR is currently a skills-short market. The situation is made worse by several factors. This includes the apparent willingness of many senior-level workers to leave the city for greener pastures; and the increasing number of businesses setting up in the GBA and expanding their local presence. As such, experienced talent within the information technology, digital sales, and marketing will be particularly highly sought-after.

For businesses that are facing tighter budget constraints in 2020, the report recommends a blended workforce consisting of permanent staff, contract employees, and freelancers. Firms with multiple transformation projects are also more likely to increased their hiring appetite for contract workers with expertise in niche roles. Companies that do it right will have a highly-skilled workforce that can help drive workplace efficiency and productivity.

Due to the turbulent economic climate, many banking and financial services will likely experience a challenging year in 2020. They will also likely hold off on more intense investments and hiring activities until business sentiments improve.

Despite this, some holding companies in Hong Kong SAR still have ambitious investment plans particularly in asset management services. This is due to the steady pool of high-net-worth (HNW) individuals who are either based or have investments in the city.

Within the financial services industry, virtual banking is expected to grow exponentially in 2020. With these markets gaining speed with every day, these sectors will soon be calling for the relevant skills required for growth and expansion.

With regards to new opportunities and salaries, candidates are likely to be more cautious when presented. Factors such as a company’s financial health and the reasons behind the previous employee’s departure will face greater scrutiny and consideration by candidates.

Despite the tightening market, candidates continue to have high salary expectations. Professionals who occupy revenue-generating roles expect a 15 percent to 18 percent salary increment when changing employers. However, companies may offer them a more conservative salary increase and compensate with non-monetary benefits such as flexi-work arrangement and better medical welfare instead.

As markets continue to tighten in 2020, Randstad expects more companies to focus their efforts on employee retention instead of workforce expansion. Employers will be looking to enhance their employee experience, with the objective of creating a more loyal and productive workforce.

For a more in-depth look into the predicted market climate of Hong Kong in 2020, please refer to the full Randstad report.


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