China's increased hiring bucks regional trend

Unlike China's optimism, hiring expectations have fallen in three Asian economies--but salaries for new hires remain the same, survey finds.

More companies in China expect to increase headcount this quarter, bucking a downward trend in other Asian markets, a new Hudson survey has revealed. Despite the fall in hiring expectations, however, employers have no plans to lower salaries for new hires.

In a report released Thursday, human resource consultancy Hudson said its survey recorded falls in hiring expectations among employers in Hong Kong and Japan in the third quarter of 2008. The report surveyed over 2,600 key employment decision makers from multinational organizations in all major industry sectors in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan.

Some 42 percent of Hong Kong respondents expected to bring in new hires this quarter, down from 57 percent in the previous quarter. In Japan, this number dropped from 55 percent to 46 percent.

In Singapore, 43 percent of those polled expected to see increased hiring this quarter, compared to 49 percent in the previous quarter.

However, hiring expectations rose in China as 55 percent of respondents indicated plans to increase headcount, up from 52 percent in the last quarter.

The Hudson report also noted that China's banking sector has not been badly affected by the U.S. subprime fallout, and the Chinese economy remains buoyant in the lead up to the Olympics.

Salaries remain untouched
Despite the bleak economic environment, Hudson noted, the majority of companies said they were unable to negotiate lower salaries for new hires, and salary inflation remained an issue for employers.

China's employers were the least likely to be able to negotiate lower salaries, with just 8 percent reporting success in doing so, the study found.

Hong Kong had the highest proportion of respondents negotiating lower salaries, but at 13 percent, the figure was still low, said Hudson.

In Singapore, just 10 percent of respondents were able to negotiate reductions in salaries.

Mike Game, CEO of Hudson Asia, said in a press statement: "There is still a shortage of talent in many areas and employers have little scope for reducing salaries for new hires."

Meanwhile, the high staff turnover experienced by employers in the last few years did not show any significant improvements, with only a third of respondents reporting a drop in turnover rates.

In China, 29 percent of respondents reported a reduction in turnover over the last year, suggesting that employees were still confident about finding new jobs, Hudson reported. The response was the same in Hong Kong.

In Singapore, 34 percent of respondents indicated a fall in turnover over the past year. At 39 percent, Japan had the highest turnover rate among respondents from the four economies, the Hudson study found.