Asia's hiring expectations fall

Hong Kong sees the steepest dip, but more than half across four economies polled say they intend to keep staffing levels steady, new survey finds.
Written by Sol E. Solomon, Contributor

Hiring expectations for the fourth quarter of 2008 have fallen across four Asian economies, according to new survey findings.

Recruitment firm Hudson released Wednesday its quarterly report for Asia, which polls hiring expectations of nearly 3,000 key employment decision makers from multinational organizations of all sizes across major industries. Respondents were based in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan.

The study found no notable increase in the proportion of employers cutting back staff. Mike Game, CEO of Hudson Asia, said in the press release: "New hiring expectations have fallen in all the markets surveyed this quarter. However, over half of all respondents expect to keep their staff levels steady."

Hong Kong registered the steepest fall in expectations to hire, dipping to 32 percent from 42 percent in the previous quarter, according to the report.

Expectations fell 6 percent in Singapore, where 37 percent of respondents said they would increase hiring activities, compared to 43 percent in the third quarter.

Japan had the lowest fall in hiring expectations at 43 percent, from 46 percent in third-quarter 2008.

Although China was the most optimistic market, with 44 percent looking to bring in new hires this quarter, expectations fell from 55 percent in the previous quarter.

Positive on performance, high on stress
Despite falling employment expectations, most respondents remained optimistic about their company's performance in 2009.

In Singapore, 72 percent of respondents forecast excellent or good performance--the highest figure among the four Asian economies. In Hong Kong, this number stood at 57 percent.

China, at 13 percent, had the highest proportion of respondents forecasting "excellent" performance next year.

Respondents in Japan were the least confident, with 50 percent anticipating good performance in 2009 and just 5 percent expecting it to be excellent.

However, Hudson noted in the release that the survey was conducted before the recent turn of events in the global financial markets, which might have affected findings, especially among respondents in the banking and financial services sector.

Stress levels among respondents remained high, where China, for the second consecutive year, had the greatest increase in stress. Some 51 percent of respondents in the Chinese economy said their stress level was significantly or relatively higher than a year earlier.

Singapore had the second highest level of stress, with 48 percent of respondents feeling more pressurized than the previous year. In Hong Kong, 46 percent reported likewise.

An increase in the volume of work was seen as the principal cause of work-related stress in each market, according to the Hudson report. Inadequate support and the lack of experienced staff were also seen as the main contributors to stress.

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