09 May 2023

Huge pay bumps and flexible work policies: How Singapore companies are fighting the war for talent

  • “The Singapore labor market is definitely moving towards, or has been looking at tangible aspects of the deal — pay and benefits — as a major competitive battleground,” said Lewis Garrad of Mercer.
  • Beyond pay increments, companies in Singapore are also making other adjustments in the form of mental health benefits, bonuses, flexible working policies and more.
  • Some firms said improved benefits are part of broad talent retention efforts, but not all companies explained the rationale for the changes.

In a normal year, lawyers at one of Singapore’s top four local law firms could expect to receive an annual increment of between 10% and 15%.

The company said employees would get a larger increment this year, one former employee told CNBC. His salary jumped by 40% and the increase was not tied to a promotion, the person said.

That law firm isn’t the only company in Singapore adjusting compensation packages in a hot labor market.


Southeast Asia’s largest lender DBS told CNBC it increased salaries across the bank in mid-2021. Accounting company KPMG announced in May that the firm will spend 25 million Singapore dollars ($18.23 million) on salary increments.

SPH Media Trust, a news and media publisher, also said it recently conducted a salary review to bring remuneration in line with market levels.


On the global front, tech giants Microsoft and Amazon have said they will increase salaries of their employees.

Average increments have been significantly higher this year, and companies are paying a premium to attract and retain workers especially if talent is scarce in an industry, said Cynthia Ang, an executive director at recruitment firm Kerry Consulting.

Catalyst Talent Strategy Consulting

New benefits

Companies in Singapore are also making other adjustments to employee benefits in the form of mental health support, bonuses, flexible working policies and others.


“The Singapore labor market is definitely moving towards, or has been looking at tangible aspects of the deal — pay and benefits — as a major competitive battleground,” said Lewis Garrad, Mercer’s Singapore career business leader.


Around 60% of 270 companies surveyed by Mercer reviewed their benefits in 2021, up from between 10% and 15% in earlier years. That’s at least in part because of the tight job market, Garrad said.


Prudential Singapore gave each of its employees $1,000 worth of shares in October 2021, said Neetha Nair, who heads a team that prepares the workforce for the future. The company also gave some workers credits to use for booking co-working spaces as part of a hybrid work initiative, she said.


In February, Randstad Singapore began allowing employees to work remotely from anywhere in the world for up to four weeks per year, Daljit Sall, general manager of technology at the recruitment company, told CNBC.

An employee at a local media company, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said more people received promotions this year than in previous years.


“Usually there is a cap in terms of the numbers, so it’s quite limited, but this time they did seem to try to promote most people who are deserving,” he said.


Employees who successfully refer a new hire at Finn Partners can now receive SG$5,000 in two payouts if the referred person stays with the company for at least one year, said Safina Samian, a partner at the communications agency. That bonus used to be SG$1,000.


Finn Partners also gives its employees four days of mental health leave, a $100 annual allowance for a wellness app subscription, and half day off one Friday per month, Samian said.


“We’re seeing a much broader range of wellness and well-being benefits,” said Ang from Kerry Consulting, citing self-care days and no-meeting days.

‘Talent war’



Source: Ng Abigail (6 June 2022) 2018 © All Rights Reserved.