The overall salary increase projected in 2021 for Singapore will soften only slightly to 3.5% compared to 3.6% in 2020, said Mercer recently when releasing results of its annual Total Remuneration Survey (TRS).
This year, 992 companies across 16 industries participated in the firm’s Singapore survey, according to Mercer.
Heading into 2021, a quarter of organisations (25%) will implement or continue salary freezes while 3% have indicated they will implement salary reductions, survey results indicate.
That compares with 30% who implemented salary freezes and 29% who made salary reductions this year, Mercer said, adding that most however are taking a wait-and-see approach.
“Businesses continue to remain cautiously optimistic about the future and are considering more holistic talent strategies to energise their employees in the new shape of work, including additional incentives,” said Peta Latimer, Mercer’s CEO for Singapore. “Leaders are also looking ahead to attract and retain talent required to accelerate business digitalisation.”
Lifestyle retail experience the sharpest dip
This year, base salaries moved significantly less compared to previous years especially at the management and executive levels, growing only 2% and 1.2% respectively between 2019 to 2020, compared to 6.8% and 7.1% for the 2018 to 2019 period, according to the survey.
However, looking to the year ahead across the industries surveyed, increments for the banking & finance and high-tech sectors will remain stable while the logistics and consumer goods industries are expecting incremental growth (3.3% and 3.5% respectively compared to 3.1% and 3.4% in 2020), survey results indicate.
The life sciences, real estate, chemicals, and lifestyle retail are expecting a dip in increments with lifestyle retail expecting the sharpest dip, from 3.3% in 2020 to 2.9% in 2021.
Focus on benefits to win the talent race
Though affordability is a key criterion for making decisions on salary increases, many organisations are taking a holistic view to redesign the work experience for their employees, including to provide additional incentives and benefits, Mercer pointed out.
- 30% of employers look to add or expand telemedicine or digital care to their health programs in 2021 to respond to the acceleration of digital health usage. For example, telemedicine providers such as Doctor Anywhere reported a 156% increase in digital active users, and MyDoc recorded a 147% increase in the last year.
- 50% employers will provide for or reimburse their employees for remote working expenses and are considering increased flexibility for onsite and remote working. Coverage for remote working expenses include internet service, laptops, and mobile phones.