Freezing headcount and strategic hiring of newly available talent are the most likely human resources responses to the economic downturn.
Lower starter increment
Respondents in all the markets surveyed expect to pay smaller salary increases to attract new staff at a managerial level.
Respondents in China expect to pay the highest salary increases to new staff: 17 per cent say they will pay more than 20 per cent.
One-third (33 per cent) of respondents in Hong Kong do not expect to pay any increase to attract new managerial staff, a large jump from five per cent in the first quarter of last year.
The 51 per cent of respondents in Japan who say they do not need to increase pay to attract new staff is more than twice as many as when this question was asked in the first quarter of last year.
At 10 per cent, Singapore has the lowest proportion of respondents who do not plan to increase new staff salaries.
Falling year-end bonuses
Although higher than in the other markets surveyed, bonuses in China are falling sharply. Bonuses of more than 10 per cent are forecast by 32 per cent of respondents, while six per cent say they will pay more than 20 per cent.
Just one per cent of respondents in Hong Kong will pay more than 20 per cent, down from 30 per cent in the first quarter of last year. The very high bonuses paid in the IT&T and banking and financial services sectors have dropped significantly.
At 35 per cent, Japan has the highest percentage of respondents who do not plan to pay any bonus at all. The decline in bonus payments is most dramatic in the banking and financial services sector.
The proportion of respondents in Singapore who say they will pay bonuses of more than 10 per cent has fallen sharply. It is now just 28 per cent, compared with 61 per cent in the first quarter of last year.
Poor company performance
Across all the markets surveyed, most respondents do not express a high level of confidence about how their companies will perform in 2009. Respondents in China and Singapore are notably more optimistic than those in Hong Kong and Japan.
In China, 47 per cent of respondents forecast that their companys performance will be excellent or good in 2009, while eight per cent expect it to be poor.
Across all sectors in Hong Kong, 51 per cent expect average company performance in 2009 and nine per cent think performance will be poor.
Japan reports the lowest expectations for company performance in 2009. Overall, 73 per cent forecast average or poor performance, meaning targets will not be met.
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