Mainland employers still cautious over hiring in 2018

But salaries are set to rise and more foreign workers are slated to be hired in the mainland compared to last year, a survey shows.

Employers on the Chinese mainland are still cautious about hiring despite growing optimism over the economy and business environment, according to recruiting company Hays.

While 63 percent of companies in the mainland see an increase in business activity and 49 percent expect the economy to strengthen, only 45 percent plan to increase headcount in 2018, said a report released by Hays recently.

"Our survey shows that the vast majority of employers in the mainland are optimistic about strong economic growth and business activity in 2018," said Simon Lance, managing director of Hays China.

"We believe this positive sentiment will eventually lead to more businesses increasing their headcount to take advantage of the promising economic and business landscape," he said.

But employees can expect to earn more as the survey found that 51 percent of employers in the mainland may increase salary by over 6 percent — 24 percent higher than the overall Asian level.

A further 35 percent of the employers planned to raise salary by 3 to 6 percent to retain professionals in 2018, according to the survey conducted among 3,000 employers who employ six million workers across the mainland, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore.

"Recruitment and retention of employees of high quality remains a key factor in the success of any business, and employers in the mainland recognize that raising salary is one way to keep their best people on board," Lance said.

Also, Hays expects to see a higher number of foreign workers employed in the mainland compared to last year. Presently, foreigners make up 10 percent of the workforce in the mainland, up 4 percent year on year.

However, the mainland still lags behind other Asian regions for employing overseas professionals, with Singapore and Hong Kong being top for having the largest numbers of foreign employees in Asia.

Employees in the mainland are also not keen to relocate overseas for work, with the proportion falling to 61 percent from 69 percent last year. The survey cited growing public confidence in the Chinese economy, greater opportunities domestically and the emergence of more world-class domestic enterprises for the drop.

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