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73% of Thai professionals will seek a new job if their pay raise is not above inflation levels

Global specialist recruitment group, Robert Walters, has released the 24th edition of its global Salary Survey 2023. Offering an authoritative analysis and benchmarkon salary trends, the annual report also includes insights about recruitment in Thailand during 2022 and what to expect in 2023.

Key takeaways from this report show that talent offering digital skills can expect to be in high demand with competitive offers, while employers will need to adjust remuneration and benefits to secure hires in a smaller talent pool and to retain employees.

In 2023, job movers with plug-and-play skill sets can expect a salary increase of 15-30%, while fresh talent or hires based on potential may expect salary increment of up to 15%. Meanwhile, existing employees may expect salary increases of an average of 2-5% and 10-15% for promotions.

Candidate supply did not meet the strong demand for talent in 2022

“There was a high level of competition for talent in Thailand’s job market in 2022, due to the imbalance in talent demand and supply. As many expatriates left the country during the Covid-19 pandemic, demand from 2021 and 2022 accumulated, while the size of the talent pool remained the same,” shared Punyanuch Sirisawadwattana, Country Manager at Robert Walters Thailand.

She added that many companies made counter offers to retain talent, increasing candidate expectations as prospective companies were also willing to pay more to secure them. Many employees are now more cautious about changing jobs and prioritised time spent with family and friends similar to their careers, which further affected the talent supply.

Hiring remained active despite the talent competition, with tech and sales and marketing among the top sectors. There was also a growth in the area of sustainability in 2022, as many large companies created new divisions and initiatives focusing on ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) practices. This is expected to grow further in the coming years.

Inflation is reinforcing the need to align salary packages to market rates in 2023

Inflationary pressure is playing a pivotal role in the decision of giving pay increment for over 72% of employers, with cost of living being a central issue in 2023. On the other hand, over 82% of employees expect their employer to consider the rising cost of living when evaluating any pay increase or bonus over the next 12 months. Nearly 73% will seek a new job if their pay raise is not above inflation levels.

In this context, over 92% of the companies surveyed are likely to give a salary increase, particularly at mid-senior and managerial level. The vast majority expect this increase to be between 1-5%, while over 27% of mid-senior positions are likely to obtain an increase of between 6-10%.

Retention of talent remains vital for employers in an increasingly competitive market

Over 84% of companies are concerned about skills and talent shortages in their fields. More than 77% considered this shortage to be at senior/team leader and managerial level. The survey also shows that 9 in 10 companies are consequently reskilling existing employees, with most opting to do this internally. More than 79% have initiatives in place to retain staff, including improved learning and development and a hybrid work policy, plus increased employee benefits and wellbeing initiatives, and pay reviews and promotions outside of the normal cycle. This is particularly important as close to 40% of talent in an existing role are looking for new opportunities, with over 53% wanting to do so to progress their career.

Salary increase expectations that are too high are regarded as the biggest hurdle in sourcing staff for over 62% of companies. Other hurdles include lack of industry experience, applications/talent, and technical qualifications, and high competition for candidates.

Punyanuch highlighted that companies need to focus on retention, “As the talent demand will always surpass supply, it is important to recognise that recruiting new talent is always more costly than retaining existing employees. Hence, ensure your employees are aligned with company goals and they feel valued and challenged, as they will be more motivated to stay.”

Talent values clear job purpose, satisfaction, and flexibility

Post-pandemic caution among employees to change jobs goes hand-in-hand with prioritising quality of family and social lives against work. They are seeking a clear job purpose and satisfaction, as well as a high level of workplace flexibility. Amongst the top three ranking that employee values most in an employer, 47% of professionals ranked colleagues and culture inspiring them to do their best and 40% ranked flexible working arrangements, aside from competitive compensation and benefits (59%).

“We have already observed this trend in 2022, with some talent leaving companies that offer hybrid work arrangements for full flexibility in work schedules. This contrasts with companies’ expectations and preferences of having employees work in offices for a few days each week. It is now increasingly difficult to find employees willing to be office-bound full-time,” added Punyanuch.

Open and effective management, job security, and a company that values and acts on diversity and inclusion are also important to talent.

Skill sets that will be highest demand and in shortest supply in 2023 in Thailand

Looking to the future, companies in Thailand will be prioritising technical skills in technology, such as cybersecurity and digital transformation, as the country advances towards a fully digitalised nation. Hybrid skill sets and tech-savviness will also be sought after, while there will be an increased emphasis on professionals willing to upskill, open to learning, and keep up with latest trends and technology. Professionals with strong leadership skills and ability to coach managers and teams will similarly be in high demand as companies look to fill replacement roles for senior positions. Post-pandemic, professionals with high adaptability, resilience, and emotional intelligence will be in high demand.

“The competition for talent will become greater in 2023, as many younger professionals may wish to run their own businesses and would often leave before moving up to middle management,” shared Punyanuch.

Recap of Salary Survey 2023 Insights for Thailand:

  • Professionals can expect pay raise of up to 30% in Thailand in 2023 (2-5% for existing employees, up to 15% for promotions and up to 30% for job movers with plug-and-play skill sets.)
  • 50% of employees are expecting between 6-10% pay increase.
  • More than 62% of those surveyed believe a salary increase is highly likely.
  • Nearly 57% declared that changing roles would not be deterred by fears of a recession and the rising cost of living, although job security has become more important as a result.
  • Nearly 73% will seek a new job if their pay raise is not above inflation levels.
  • Those who display resilience, emotional intelligence, and an ability to adapt to challenging situations are valued more by employer’s post-pandemic.
  • A flexible and positive working environment, and satisfying work are highly rated by employees, along with a company that values and acts on diversity and inclusion.
  • Being able to upskill and understand tech trends is an important candidate selection criteria for companies.
  • Some businesses, especially in the banking and financial sectors, experienced higher turnover rates after the reopening of international borders in 2022, and significant challenges in attracting younger talent, as many have moved out of banking into newer businesses such as tech start-ups and e-commerce.

The annual Robert Walters Salary Survey is a go-to for both employers and professionals within the job market across the region. Offering an authoritative analysis and benchmarkon salary trends, the annual report reveals valuable insights on recruitment drivers and salary forecasts within different industries and individual roles. Expected in-demand skills for the year ahead are also highlighted.

Some 60% of those surveyed for the Salary Survey 2023 were between 40-54 years old, with over 87% being in a permanent role.

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