A growing dissatisfaction with wages may be driving more professionals in Malaysia to explore greener pastures, according to the latest Asia Salary Guide report by leading recruitment experts Hays. This year marks the 13th edition of the annual Hays Asia Salary Guide, which remains a definitive snapshot of salaries for positions across industries in Asia. The salary and hiring insights, including a thorough market overview of business outlooks, salary policies and recruitment trends, are based on survey responses from close to 6,000 working professionals located in the five Hays operating markets in Asia; namely China, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia.

Looking for greener pastures

Results of the survey showed that more than half of working professionals in Malaysia (52 per cent) were actively looking for a new job. This marked a significant jump from only 37 per cent who said so last year, making them the highest actively looking demographic in Asia. Additionally, 40 per cent of respondents were not actively looking but still are open to new opportunities – leaving only a paltry eight per cent of respondents who were not actively looking for a job or are open to new opportunities and conversely, a total of 92 per cent who were. In addition to the unusually high numbers, 77 per cent of respondents in Malaysia said they would move abroad for a new job opportunity, the highest demographic in Asia to say so by some distance.

 Low wage satisfaction continues

67 per cent of respondents said salary package was the reason why they were looking for a new employer, the highest demographic to say so after Hong Kong (68 per cent). Similarly, 46 per cent of respondents said they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their current compensation package, the highest percentage to say so in Asia. The dissatisfaction is not a new occurrence however, with 41 per cent of respondents feeling the same way last year – once again the highest percentage to do so in the region. In addition to this, 24 per cent said they had asked for a pay raise in the last year without success – once again the highest number in Asia to do so. However, 24 per cent also successfully asked for a pay raise in the last year, making them the highest percentage to do so in the region after Hong Kong (36 per cent).

 Work life balance and location key to retention

Respondents in Malaysia also favoured ‘new challenges’ (51 per cent) and ‘management style & company culture’ (47 per cent) when looking for a new job. In addition, when asked what would make them stay with their current employer, respondents favoured ‘work-life balance’ the most (41 per cent). Work life balance is often linked to the availability and utilisation of flexible working options, but 55 per cent of respondents said they did not use any flexible working options at all – again the highest percentage to say so in Asia. Respondents also said salary or benefit packages (38 per cent) would make them stay and, interestingly, ‘work location’ as well (37 per cent), which is indicative of Malaysia’s huge market size, as well as the propensity of its residents to travel extensively on a daily basis for work.

Tom Osborne, Managing Director for Hays Malaysia commented, “The issue of Malaysia’s ongoing exodus of talent is not a new one and has received considerable attention for its potential impact on the country’s economy and growth. However, Malaysia’s economy has remained resilient and considering its recent efforts to digitalise and re-industrialise, will likely create plenty more opportunities for career progression in the near future. In the meantime, candidates should continue upskilling themselves to minimise skill gaps that are a growing concern for employers, and may be one of the reasons behind chronic mismatched salary expectations.”


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