As hiring levels in Singapore start to skyrocket, banks must clamp down on compensation inflation and keep the employment market under control – that’s the key message from the 15 senior HR professionals who attended the recent eFinancialCareers roundtable in the city state.
“It’s manic at the moment. We’ve been hiring left, right and centre, and competing heavily for candidates with other firms,” commented one delegate.
HR’s main concern is that job seekers could end up abusing their bargaining power as the market turns in their favour and desperate line managers agree to their requests.
“In consumer banking, we are all tapping into the same recycled pool of talent and some candidates are using this as a negotiating tool,” said one roundtable panelist who, like the others, asked not to be named in this report.
Attendees agreed that multiple offers are creeping back into Singapore – but are not yet at pre-crisis levels – and guaranteed bonuses are becoming more common.” Some AVP candidates are getting guarantees; and it’s happening in operations too, not just in the front office.”
But it was counter offers, a subject of recent interest to eFC readers, which generated the most vigorous discussion during the roundtable.
As business picks up and staff retention becomes critical, line managers are “panicking” about losing their top performers and this is encouraging them to counter. It is not uncommon to have 40 per cent rises on the table.
Senior managers are putting “unheard of pressure” on AVPs-and-above to stay, giving them regional exposure and more support, and sometimes even removing unwanted tasks. “They are trying to make it very difficult for good people to leave.”
Corporate titles are also important. “Slap on an MD title and the role looks more attractive. It’s clearly still an AVP-level job, but the candidate was offered a VP role elsewhere, so the current manager feels he has to better that,” said one roundtable delegate.
The challenge for HR for the rest of this year is to reign in line management to ensure counter offers don’t escalate too much further.
“I have seen a counter with a 75 per cent uplift and a new job title. In such a case, it’s probably best to let the person go to the new company. There has to be a point where you just give up,” remarked one attendee.
Another bemoaned that some banks are already inflating compensation with their counter offers. “But we aren’t prepared to match them. If you’re not going to really regret the lost person, don’t go for a counter. He or she has mentally checked out anyway.”
Later this week, we report on whether the roundtable delegates believe banks are getting more flexible with their hiring.
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