Skip to content
Hays - Recruiting experts worldwide
  1. I am
    I am

China poised for Asia’s strongest salary growth in 2014

Updated: 14 Apr 2016


  • 66 per cent of employers in China gave a salary increase above six per cent last year, compared to 29 per cent in Asia as a region;
  • Looking ahead, 67 per cent of employers in China will increase salaries above six per cent, compared to 29 per cent in Asia;
  • 71 per cent of employers expect business activity to increase.


Employees in China will receive higher salary increases than their Asian neighbours this year, according to the 2014 Hays Salary Guide.


Released today, the Guide reveals salary and recruiting trends for over 1,200 roles in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Japan. It is based on a survey of over 2,600 employers and placements made by Hays.


It found that in China 54 per cent of employers increased salaries by six to 10 per cent last year, and a further 12 per cent increased above that level. Meanwhile 24 per cent gave their staff salary increases of between three and six per cent. Five per cent increased salaries by less than three per cent and the final five per cent gave no pay increases.


In comparison, across Asia 22 per cent offered increases between six and 10 per cent, and a further seven per cent increased above that level. A further 38 per cent increased salaries between three and six per cent. But 25 per cent increased salaries by less than three per cent, and the final eight per cent did not give any increases.


Looking ahead, 58 per cent of employers in China intend to increase salaries between six and 10 per cent this year. Another nine per cent will increase salaries by more than 10 per cent. 


This compares very favourably to the rest of Asia, where only 23 per cent of employers intend to increase salaries between six and 10 per cent this year. Instead, the majority of increases will be below six per cent, with a further one quarter of employers across Asia intending to offer increases of less than three per cent.


“Cost control has lowered the ceiling for salary increases in many organisations across Asia,” says Simon Lance, Regional Director of Hays in China. “While China is the stand-out performer when it comes to salaries in Asia, employers are more focused on the bottom line.


“Certainly salaries remain competitive in China, and for the top talent many employers offer higher packages to entice candidates, proving that money still talks. But in general salaries are starting to become more moderate than they once were.


In an attempt to manage retention, we have seen an increase in the number of organisations offering benefits. 85 per cent of organisations now offer their staff benefits, which is up from 79 per cent last year.


“And according to our survey, 53 per cent of employers intend to award a bonus to more than 50 per cent of staff.


“According to our survey of employers, in the next 12 months 71 per cent of employers expect business activity to increase and 43 per cent expect their permanent staff levels to increase. This means that those candidates with in-demand skills and realistic salary expectations can be confident that this year will provide them with the opportunity to secure a challenging career move and a salary increase,” he said.


A summary of trends revealed in the Hays Salary Guide for China by sector follows:


  • Accountancy & Finance: China’s accountancy & finance job market is going through a readjustment. The economy is slowing, although it remains impressive by international standards, as it shifts from manufacturing to service orientated. Tier one cities such as Beijing and Shanghai are attracting more service companies, financial institutions and banks. In terms of recruitment, this is creating demand for skilled candidates with solid experience in financial planning and analysis, commercial analysis, control, audit and compliance.


  • Banking: The need to replace departing staff has been the dominant feature of China’s banking market over the past year. That’s not to say we haven’t seen any new headcount, but rather the majority of vacancy activity has been driven by staff movement. Salaries in commercial banks are trending upwards, with candidates receiving increases between 10 and 15 per cent.


  • Finance Technology: With the emergence of China as one of the primary markets for offshore Centre of Excellence establishments, changes in government regulations and the growing strength of local financial institutions, demand for  front office related technology, including pockets of greenfield quantitative C / C++ low latency technology is high.


  • Information Technology: China’s IT market saw continued growth and consistent demand for junior, mid and senior level professionals last year. .NET and Java remain the key programming skills in demand however Java Developers still receive salaries that are 15 per cent higher than .NET candidates, who are in greater supply.


  • Life Sciences: There is ongoing demand for candidates in the commercial functions of marketing, sales and business development within China’s life sciences market, however salaries have not and will not change dramatically. For newer roles to China’s market, such as Market Access, Sales Force Effectiveness, Sales Training, Medical Scientific Liaison and Technical Sales, salaries are significantly higher than in previous years. This is largely due to the shortage of qualified candidates.


  • HR: The main trend in China’s HR market is the shift of human resources professionals from the manufacturing sector to emerging industries such as hi-tech, Internet, e-commerce, financial service and FMCG.


  • Sales & Marketing: Within sales, retail operating roles have historically offered low salaries. However we are starting to see a shift as the competition for the top talent increases. Meanwhile within marketing, we have seen annual salary increases for skills in demand of between 8 and 15 per cent. For job changers the rate of increase is higher, at around 15 to 25 per cent. Digital marketing and e-commerce talent can enjoy greater increases of around 20 to 35 per cent due to the shortage of experienced candidates in this function.


  • Supply Chain: In most demand are Supply Chain Business Analysts and Managers, Demand Planners and Freight Forwarding Logistics Operators. While average salaries have fallen, strategic and regional supply chain professionals have seen a 5 to 10 per cent increase.


  • Education: The main focus of education companies in the year ahead will be recruiting high-quality, management level staff who possess both local and overseas experience with Chinese and English language skills.


  • Construction & Engineering: Employers prefer candidates with exposure and understanding of China’s market. Construction and Project Managers who have experience in traditional projects can expect an increase of 15 to 20 per cent. Candidates with specialised experience such as sports stadiums and hospital projects can demand significantly more due to the lack of candidates in the market.


  • Architecture: More design firms are now completing design work locally which has led to increasing headcount and rising demand for well trained Designers and Project Leaders in China.


  • Property: Within the property sector salaries remain steady. Despite the demand for high calibre property professionals, companies are not increasing salaries in line with normal incremental or inflationary raises.


  • Manufacturing & Operations: Last year investment in R&D functions increased in FMCG, the automotive, medical device and material science industries. Some employers moved global R&D roles or centres to China for long-term strategic development as well as cost control. As a result, demand for candidates with strong R&D backgrounds, overseas exposure and bilingual capability will remain high. Suitable candidates will receive attractive salary offers.


  • Oil & Gas: China’s oil & gas industry continues to grow. Experienced and skilled engineering professionals specialising in geology and reservoir and with both onshore and offshore knowledge are in short supply in the domestic market.


Get your copy of the 2014 Hays Salary Guide by visiting, or contact your local Hays office.


Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.


- Ends -


About Hays

Hays is the leading global specialist recruiting group. It is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide.


Hays Specialist Recruitment  (Shanghai) Co., Limited ("Hays China") operates across the public and private sector, dealing in permanent positions. Hays China’s eighteen specialisms span Accountancy & Finance, Banking, Architecture, Construction, Education, Engineering, Executive, Finance Technology, Human Resources, Hays Resource Management, Information Technology, Insurance, Life Sciences, Manufacturing & Operations, Oil & Gas, Property and Sales & Marketing.


Hays China operates four local offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou and Guangzhou. It is the local representative office for Hays plc, which is a global company with more than 7,840 staff operating from 239 offices in 33 countries across 20 specialisms.


Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA.