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Robert Walters Salary Survey 2021 launch

The job market in Taiwan is being driven by technology as the pace of digital transformation is accelerated across sectors in the wake of the pandemic, according to the first-ever fully digital Salary Survey 2021 by Robert Walters, the world-leading specialist professional recruitment consultancy. The survey was co-launched by Robert Walters together with the ECCT at a Premium Event lunch. At the event, John Winter, Country Manager of Robert Walters Taiwan, gave an overview of the highlights of the survey. After the lunch, a press conference was held to launch the survey to the media.


Robert Walters has been producing the survey for more than 20 years. This year’s survey brings even more insights with a new digital interactive platform edition that provides localised and global insights from hiring markets across 31 countries to help guide employers and candidates on salaries. Special features include salary ranges by filters, videos of key trends by discipline and infographics.


This year’s insights highlight that the overall hiring market in Taiwan will be driven by digitalisation, with demand for talent in digital transformation, digital marketing and e-commerce across all industries. 


According to Winter, despite the uncertainties and upheavals in 2020, hiring activities in Taiwan rebounded relatively more quickly than other parts of the world and Robert Walters’ own business in 4Q20 was busier than the same quarter in 2019.


Key findings of the survey show that around 73% of professionals intend to look for new jobs across sectors and employers are mostly looking to hire candidates with niche skillsets, soft skills, English capability and strategic mindsets. In the current environment, the demand for job security is high and only 55% of professionals are expecting a pay rise in 2021. The survey also reveals 76% of mid-senior levels/managers are likely to receive a bonus in 2021. 


2020 was a year of two halves. According to the survey results, there was a significant drop off in hiring activities in the first half of 2021 as companies exercised caution, implemented cost cutting measures, required extra levels of sign off, implemented social distancing and remote working and remote interviews. This made the hiring process longer. In the second half of 2020, market activities resumed and technology hiring became key with headcount increases from local and international firms.


Robert Walters identifies six core discipline areas: accounting & finance, healthcare, human resources, supply chain, procurement & logistics, sales & marketing and technology & transformation.


Looking at the major hiring trends, in technology Winter said that Taiwanese companies continue to repatriate operations from mainland China and accelerate overseas investments in line with a so-called China + 1 strategy to diversify global risk exposure. There has been growth across automation, semiconductors and manufacturing and opportunities for software engineering.


The healthcare sector continued to generate market access positions and technical roles, although there was a slowing of hiring sales positions. There was also growth in opportunities in medical devices, medical technology / biotech and clinical research. In the supply chain, procurement and logistics, there was an impact of China +1 strategies on Taiwan, and the trend of senior roles moving to China has slowed. E-Commerce is also driving a lot of incremental hiring and third-party logistics hiring was very strong in 2020 and continues to be in 2021.


In Fast Moving Consumer Goods and retail, many companies in the sector enjoyed a very strong 2020 and the trend is expected to continue with closed borders likely for most of 2021 and given the fact that Taiwan has seen a rise in consumer spending thanks to a large number of returning Taiwanese. This means there is opportunity for increased investment in Taiwan. The trend towards digitalisation continues and fewer candidates are being lost to overseas markets. One interesting finding in the cosmetics space was that, given the fact people have to wear masks in many places and for long periods of time, there has been more of a rise in demand for skin care products than for make-up.


Asset management performed significantly well in 2020, although hiring did not increase exponentially and is still driven mainly by control positions. The wind energy sector still has a high demand for talent and it remains difficult to recruit engineers for the sector, which means that many engineers, for example, have to be recruited from overseas.


2021 has seen the start of secondary manufacturers/ fabricators driving recruitment. Many other manufacturers have also been actively hiring due to high output and global demand, for example in bicycles and electronics.


Looking at some of the hiring trends by function, in finance and accounting, offshoring and automation of junior roles is a continuing feature while mid-senior requirements are focused on project/transformations, commercial finance professionals. In sales and marketing, digital experience gives candidates a great advantage, allowing them to ask not only for salary increases but also better job titles. Meanwhile, the pandemic has increased expectations of HR professionals in terms of understanding implications of new working arrangements (such as remote working) and regulatory issues. 


In the supply chain space, manufacturing experience is most in demand and there has been a return of some regional jobs requiring of English proficiency. There is a high demand for engineers at all levels across most areas of technology and chemical sectors. This has been heightened in the semiconductor industry, driven by increasing overseas demand for chips. According to Winter, Taiwan is seen as an increasingly attractive hub to hire software engineers and most candidates have multiple offers. English a growing requirement. He noted that some technology engineers have been able to move into wind energy.


In terms of salary trends, accounting and finance have seen rises of 3-5% on average, healthcare around 15%, HR 8-12%, sales & marketing 10-15%, supply chain 15-18% and technology and transformation 10-15%, although Winter noted that these are averages for people seeking to change jobs and that there are considerable variations depending on the position and role.


Looking at future work trends, the expectations of talent in Taiwan has evolved. Talented people are now expecting inspiring colleagues and culture, excellent compensation and benefits and open and effective management. The pandemic has seen an enhanced use of technology and applications and tools and flexible hours.


Other interesting findings from the survey are that 22% of organisations are considering a downsize in office space, 44% of employees were not allowed to work from home before the pandemic but 79% now expect more flexibility after the pandemic ends. Meanwhile, 45% of employees believe that leaders need to focus more on outcomes rather than time spent, 55% of employees feel their leaders could show more empathy towards their employees’ work-life balance, 47% think their leaders should improve their communication skills, 53% would like their leaders to have a better understanding of technology with regards to remote working and 41% feel their leaders should move from a top-down approach towards more collaboration.


In terms of employee expectations, employees expect their employers to invest beyond financial remuneration in things like wellness programmes and personal development plans. Relationships matter to them.


Although around 50% of people surveyed expressed a preference for remote working, it may be too soon to call the end of the office as we know it. It was remarkable how quickly and successfully most employers and employees managed to adjust to working from home. However, the WFH experiment has only been going on for little over a year and we are only just beginning to see some of the long-term negative impacts. Recent studies have shown some pushback from both employers and employees and there is recognition that the long-term implications of WFH are not yet fully understood. Goldman Sachs, for example, has called the past year’s WFH experience an aberration while Google has said it wants its staff to live near the office (presumably so that real interactions can be arranged). Research has shown that it takes informal interactions and conversations to build trust and that collaboration is needed for innovation to occur.


Moreover, some young employees say they want interaction with inspiring leaders and colleagues. Another drawback of WFH is that without clear guidelines and enforcement, many employees feel unable or unwilling to switch off and being on call all the time leads to stress, fatigue and related mental health problems. Many employees have also baulked at virtual social meetings, saying that they don’t like having to be forced to socialise. Trust has also been eroded in instances where companies have installed remote surveillance technologies like monitoring by camera or keystrokes and even more insidious technologies that can monitor whether employees are paying attention or even try to analyse their moods by examining their facial expressions.


For these reasons companies will need to evaluate carefully both the seen and unseen consequences. Winter questioned the thesis that Taiwan has been left behind in global workforce trends because of almost ideal conditions here. He made the point that Taiwan has the advantage of being able to take a watch and see approach and learn from the experience of other countries. He said that companies should keep in mind that employee expectations have not really changed that much since the pandemic. They still want good salaries and benefits. In addition, young employees want the chance to learn from their senior colleagues and they definitely still want physical proximity and engagement. According to Winter, young mothers especially crave returning to office life. Companies therefore will have to create opportunities for informal engagement, even if there is a large-scale shift to WFH.

For the presentation, please refer to this link.