Malaysians unhappiest lot in Asia when it comes to salaries, says survey

Survey shows 46% of workers surveyed are either ‘dissatisfied’ or ‘very dissatisfied’ when it comes to pay.

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian employees came out tops in Asia in terms of being unhappy with their salaries, a study by recruitment firm Hays Asia reveals.

According to the survey — conducted from August to October 2019 — 46% of the 900 surveyed were either “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied”.

A total of 6,000 respondents were surveyed across Asia, including in China, Singapore and Japan.

“This is likely a compounding factor in high salary expectations from employees that differ from that of employers, creating the potential for mismatched salary expectations in 2020,” Hays Asia said in a statement.

Malaysia, the study also revealed, reported the highest number of employees from Asia who asked for a pay raise, with 24%, but did not receive one in the last year.

The majority, it said, were expecting increases of between 3% and 6%, while others were expecting increases of more than 10%.

Some 20% of employers — “the highest percentage in Asia to say so” — meanwhile said they did not expect employees’ salaries to change at all.

The survey also found that Malaysia had the highest number of respondents in Asia who were actively seeking a new job, with 52%, with the pay cited as their top reason for doing so.

However, the study revealed that salaries were not the biggest reason why employees remained with a company, with 41% of respondents citing “work-life balance”.

Only 38% identified “salary or benefit package”, followed by “work location” (37%) and “management style and company culture” (36%).

Malaysians also regarded “training and development opportunities” as more important than all the other Asian markets.

“This shows that while Malaysian professionals may be attracted by higher pay, benefits that ease work-life balance and difficulties like travel to work or aid in upskilling would be key in retaining them over pay.”

Hays Malaysia managing director Tom Osborne said with the brain drain continuing to take some of the nation’s best talents outside the country, it was vital for organisations to offer more incentives to both attract and retain the best talent.

These, he said, could be either monetary or non-monetary. With a mismatch in salary expectations imminent, organisations could turn the focus on more holistic benefit packages that could ease other areas of concern for employees.

Another focus would be on upskilling, something that both candidates and organisations can look into, he added.