Hiring in Malaysia: Growth opportunities amidst more cautious sentiments

 Ai Rene Tan, Country Manager of Robert Walters Malaysia

In 2022, the reopening of international borders and implementation of Malaysia’s National Recovery Programme have enabled a steady market upswing.

According to Ai Rene Tan, Country Manager of Robert Walters Malaysia, “The 2022 bounce back saw recruitment activity soar to historic highs. We saw buoyant hiring across all sectors, with engineering, finance, tech & transformation experiencing the highest demand, especially with the unveiling of Malaysia’s digital banking licenses.”

“In a candidate-short market, companies were competing fiercely for talent. Many businesses gave aggressive counteroffers to retain employees, making it harder for prospective companies to attract talent,” she notes.

This was reflected in the previous Robert Walters ‘Not-So-Great’ Resignation report, with 66% of companies surveyed citing high salary and benefit expectations as the biggest challenge in talent attraction.

Key growth areas despite more cautious hiring in 2023

Ai Rene points out, “In 2023, we foresee hiring cooling off from the elevated levels experienced in 2022. Companies are expected to take a more cautious approach to recruitment in the new year. The pace of hiring may be affected by external factors such as geopolitical uncertainties and global recession. According to our survey, professionals in Malaysia are also expected to be more conservative, and will not leave their jobs without another job on hand.”

“Nevertheless, we observe growth opportunities across a few job domains. Over the next year, organisations will continue to automate and modernise their business processes by adapting to new technologies such as RPA, AI or Cloud. Notably, automation will drive growth and hiring demand in shared services centres across functions such as HR, finance and IT,” she says.

There will also be a positive trend in hiring for the engineering and manufacturing sector. “The resumption of manufacturing operations will propel the need for strong talent across all functions to enable plant readiness,” Ai Rene adds.

Companies in search for hybrid skills, crisis planning and talent management

Hybrid skills will continue to be in high demand in 2023. Ai Rene expresses, “Companies have observed the need to move beyond technical competencies and look for skills to effectively partner with businesses. Professionals with strong stakeholder management, sharp business acumen and data analytical skills will be highly sought after.”

“Across sectors, we expect to see demand for talent equipped with business continuity planning and risk management, as companies ramp up crisis management efforts,” she reveals.

The added emphasis on mental wellness since the pandemic will also further boost demand for professionals experienced in employee engagement and ED&I to support talent management strategies.

Proactively engaging employees

Based on our previous study, 66% of employees will be looking to resign or change jobs in 2023. Ai Rene says, “This highlights the need for companies to align with employees’ sentiments to ensure they do not lose top talent.”

“While salary increments and benefits remain important to employees today, companies should not overlook the importance of staff mental and physical well-being. 44% of professionals have indicated that they valued flexible work arrangements as many of them strive for better work-life integration.”

“Companies should also ensure communication remains open and proactive in 2023. Close to half of candidates in our previous report revealed that they had no knowledge of measures implemented by their companies to retain talent, though companies noted that they had made positive changes. Managers will need to have proactive career discussions with employees and be able to detect cues ahead of time to ensure employees remain motivated and engaged,” Ai Rene advises.

Salary increments amidst inflationary trends

Ai Rene forecasts, “In 2023, job movers will likely garner salary rises of 15-20%. There may be increments of up to 30% for niche skillsets.”

“With inflationary trends set to continue in 2023, we can also expect professionals to have higher salary demands,” she adds.

Find out more

Request access to our 2023 Salary Survey to benchmark salaries and to find out more about the latest hiring and talent trends across industries in Malaysia.