Malaysian workers most dissatisfied with pay in Asia, new survey finds

New findings found that Malaysian employees were the least satisfied with their wages among those polled in Asia. The survey by international recruiting agency Hays also found that one of the precipitating factors might be the feeling of disappointment engendered by the lack of a pay raise.

“Forty-six per cent of Malaysian employees were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their current compensation packages, the highest number to say so in Asia,” the results published in Hays’ Asia Salary Guide 2020 read. “Malaysia reported the highest number of employees in Asia at 24 per cent, who asked for a pay raise but did not receive one in the last year.”

The guide indicated that the dissatisfaction could also be due to high salary expectations among employees. According to the data, 27 per cent of Malaysian respondents are expecting a wage increment of between 3 and 6 per cent, while a further 25 per cent said they are expecting an increase greater than 10 per cent. The guide noted that they are the highest number to say so in Asia after China at 40 per cent. This creates the potential for mismatched salary expectations, it continued, because Malaysian employers make up the highest percentage of the survey that said they have no plans to increase staff pay.

 “The majority of employers in Malaysia at 39 per cent also expect to give out increments between 3 and 6 per cent, but only 4 per cent are looking at increases above 10 per cent. “These numbers indicate possibilities of severe mismatched salary expectations in 2020, which is further cemented by 20 per cent of Malaysian employers saying they did not expect employee salaries to change at all, making them the highest percentage in Asia to say so,” said the guide.

Not surprisingly, Malaysia also has the highest number of respondents who are actively seeking a new job, at 52 per cent, with 67 per cent citing compensation as their top reason for doing so.

Yet, the survey found that there are several reasons why some Malaysian employees choose to stay with their current company even if a wage hike is not forthcoming. Forty-one per cent of respondents cited work-life balance, while 38 per cent favoured salary or benefit packages, followed closely by work location at 37 per cent and management style and company culture at 36 per cent.

“Malaysians also regarded training and development opportunities as more important than all the other Asian markets, at 26 per cent of all total respondents surveyed. “This shows that while Malaysian professionals may be attracted by higher pay, benefits that ease work-life balance and difficulties like travel to work or aid in upskilling would be key in retaining them over pay,” said the guide.

In light of these results, Hays Malaysia’s managing director Tom Osborne said it has become vital for organisations to offer more incentives to both attract and retain the best talent, as Malaysia’s brain drain continues to take some of its best talent outside of the country. “These can be either monetary or non-monetary as with a mismatch in salary expectations imminent, organisations could turn the focus on more holistic benefit packages that can plug the gap by easing other areas of concern for employees.

“Another focus would be on upskilling, something that both candidates and organisations can look into better justifying higher increments,” he said. The survey was conducted by Hays as part of its Asia Salary Guide 2020. It took into account almost 6,000 working professionals located in five Hays operating markets in Asia, which are China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia.


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