With the world changing so dramatically over the last year and the uncertainty surrounding 2021, Hong Kong’s employees and candidates alike should be looking to improve their skill levels to reflect ‘new normal’ working operations. There is also a steadily growing importance attached to work-life balance, meaning that companies are altering working practices in order to attract and retain employees with a more modern outlook.
This year marks the 14th 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 (number) working professionals and (number) companies from the five Hays operating markets in Asia: China, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. 
New skills needed in changing workplace landscape
Employees in Hong Kong have proven to be among the most studious in Asia, with every week spending six to ten hours (9 per cent), ten to 24 hours (4 per cent) and over 24 hours (2 per cent) outside of their job enhancing their professional skills. In addition, in the last year alone, 47 per cent said that they had taken up soft skill development and 31 per cent had begun improving their hard skillsets, both figures around the Asia average of 53 and 30 per cent.
There is a clear consensus amongst Hong Kong’s employees that the best way to improve job prospects is to upskill, and we can see by observing our previous Salary Guides that this has consistently been the case. However, we can also see that the number of employees spending no time upskilling is on the rise from 23 per cent last year to 28 per cent in 2021, and as such they should keep in mind that in these fast-changing times it is crucial to stay on top of industry trends.
Furthermore, they should be aware of what skillsets employers value most. Whilst it is laudable that so many candidates have begun working on their soft skills, and they would have been right to do so in previous years when more employers preferred it; in 2021 this has reversed, and 52 per cent of employers are now on the lookout for candidates with impressive hard skillsets.
“This change reflects the shifting needs of the modern workspace with digitalisation, video conferencing, cloud and technological transformations all now commonplace. In order to stand out from the competition, employees and candidates must update skillsets in order to accommodate this, and are advised to speak to companies, mentors and recruitment experts to establish the areas in which they should improve,” says Simon Lance, Managing Director at Hays Greater China.
Finding new roles to improve work-life balance 
Although ‘work-life balance’ was the second most-preferred option for professionals in Asia looking to stay with their employer, a higher percentage of responders selected it in 2021 (48 per cent) than the year before (43 per cent). In Hong Kong there is evidence that importance of work-life balance has been increasing for some time, as the 46 per cent who stay with their employer for this purpose is up from 2019’s 44 per cent.
We can see that work-life balance is becoming of immense importance to Hong Kong’s work force, and this may be part of a generational shift as millennials and Gen Z become more influential in the workplace. It is perhaps because of this transition that we have seen a general decline in satisfaction with work-life balance. Whilst things are positive overall, with 46 per cent saying that their balance was ‘good’ or ‘very good’, this has slipped from 51 per cent last year. 
It can perhaps be surmised from this trend that the younger generation of workers have differing notions of their working life and are dissatisfied by the unwritten and normalised practice of long hours and overtime, especially in the tech sector. Fortunately, we are beginning to see movement away from these practices, with companies promoting more flexible working options, a prime example being the recent ‘big week/small week’ initiative. 
This is good news for employees who are unhappy with the balance between their working and home lives, as they should be able to discover new employers that suits their needs.
As the Salary Report lays out, Hong Kong’s employees are amongst the studious in Asia when it comes to upskilling on their own time, though, as the desire for improved work-life balance increases, this dedication may fall by the wayside. However, canny employers may be able to harness this studiousness by providing more upskilling opportunities. One such benefit may be the provision of special L&D leave for employees which, in this post pandemic period when salary and bonus structures may not be viable, may be a recruitment tactic that will help you stand out. 
Candidates, however, should not be of the belief that simply ‘upskilling’ is enough. They should be prepared to discover which areas companies are most in need of. Employers stated that hard skills are the in the highest demand, with most – 65 per cent – stating that they required technical skills. At 64 per cent the second most desirous was analytical skills, whilst 55 per cent of respondents considered presentation skills to be of importance. Should jobseekers wish to advance in 2021’s competitive market, they must not pass up this opportunity to develop in line with their industry’s needs.”
Download your copy of the 2021 Hays Asia Salary Guide by clicking here.
About Hays Hong Kong SAR
Hays Specialist Recruitment Hong Kong is the one of the leading specialist recruitment companies in Hong Kong SAR in recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people across a wide range of industries and professions. 
Hays has been in Hong Kong SAR for over a decade and boasts a track record of success and growth. At Hays in Hong Kong SAR, we operate across the private and public sector, dealing in permanent, temporary and contracting positions in the following specialisms: Accountancy & Finance, Banking & Financial Services, Construction, Digital Technology, Engineering, Finance Technology, Human Resources, Information Technology, Insurance, Legal, Life Sciences, Marketing & Digital, Office Professionals, Property, Procurement, Supply Chain and Sales. Hays Hong Kong SAR has been awarded the “Best Workplace for Women™” and one of the ‘Best Workplaces™ in Greater China 2019’ by Great Place to Work®.
About Hays
Hays plc (the "Group") is a leading global professional recruiting group. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Australia and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe, Latin America and Asia. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 30 June 2020 the Group employed c.10,400 staff operating from 266 offices in 33 countries across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2020:
–    the Group reported net fees of £996.2 million and operating profit (pre-exceptional items) of £135.0 million;
–    the Group placed around 66,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 235,000 people into temporary roles;
–    17% of Group net fees were generated in Australia & New Zealand, 26% in Germany, 23% in United Kingdom & Ireland and 34% in Rest of World (RoW);
–    the temporary placement business represented 59% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 41% of net fees;
–    IT is the Group’s largest specialism, with 25% of net fees, while Accountancy & Finance (15%) and Construction & Property (12%), are the next largest
–    Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA