Salary and Workplace Trends in Singapore: How to Plan your next Career Move


2022 was a great year to be a job seeker. 2023, not so much.

That’s the general theme from job reports, news articles and salary guides released since the start of the year.

Why is this so? First, there are growing concerns that the world will tip into a recession, which slows demand. And the labour market tightness from last year is easing.

This makes planning your next career move trickier than last year.

To help you plan your next career move, we will explore:

  • What were salary and workplace trends in Singapore in 2022?
  • What are the predicted trends in 2023?
  • What are the long-term growth areas in the Singapore economy?

This article was written by a Financial Horse Contributor.

The current state of the Singapore workplace

2022 was a “candidate-driven” job market – there were more open seats than qualified talents to fill them.

That was the result of almost every sector starting to hire across multiple roles as the economy opened.

Salaries surged like Grab prices on a Friday night. Top talent could pit hiring organisations against one another as each tried to bump their offer to secure the candidate.

This was the same story for fresh graduates.

In prior Graduate Employment Surveys (GES), median salaries for fresh graduates typically go up in $100 increments yearly. But in 2022, it increased from $3800 to $4200.

Did you ask for enough?

The hot market in 2022, combined with rising inflation, meant that many employees were expecting a bigger pay bump. According to a Morgan McKinley report, 69% of employees received a salary increase in 2022.

If you were a fresh grad in 2021, you’d need at least a $400 increment just to match what your juniors received in 2022. Several companies said they planned to adjust the wages of existing employees quickly to ensure pay equity and fairness.

On bonuses, 88% of employers intended to award bonuses of 1 month or more to their employees.

Predictions for 2023 Salary and Workplace trends

So what should you expect for the rest of the year?

The Morgan McKinley report sums it up well.

“Stability is likely to be the key this year: Candidates will look to work for companies that are ‘recession proof’, whether that’s from a stable workforce or a steady financial balance sheet, and employers will seek candidates with a strong and stable career background that have experience driving positive outcomes in companies through periods of economic uncertainty and change.”

Despite headlines of massive layoffs in the tech sector, it’s not all doom and gloom. Other companies are also hiring concurrently, and in the aggregate, more businesses are looking to hire than fire.

But don’t expect the same bidding war from last year. There’s still demand for new talent, but companies are wary of bloating their headcount. They are afraid of needing to conduct layoffs and destroy the morale of existing employees.

Expect more caution when it comes to hiring and offering eye-popping salaries.

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Trends in salaries and packages

Cash is still king when it comes to attracting and retaining employees. More companies are offering cash-related components like sign-on bonuses, performance bonuses, retention bonuses and accelerated promotion plans.

Don’t overlook non-monetary benefits, though.

Companies might offer benefits like extra maternity leave, gym memberships, and attractive healthcare plans. These benefits are worth just as much as cash if they are useful.

Another aspect is the work environment.

Surveys show that most people want a flexible work arrangement, with 53% preferring to come into the office for one or two days per week.

Long-term growth areas in the Singapore economy

So far, we’ve only discussed short-term trends. But we have to look farther ahead at the megatrends that will shape the future of the Singapore economy.

By identifying these growth opportunities, you can better prepare to develop the skills and knowledge to land these high-demand jobs.

Your pay increments will depend on whether you have the right skills and knowledge in the right industry.

What the “right” industry is will wildly vary from person to person. A good source is the SkillsFuture’s report on Skills Demand for the Future Economy. Not a bad starting point to figure out how to future-proof your career.

The report identifies three key growth areas: Green Economy, Digital Economy and Care Economy. 

Green Economy

  • Sustainability is now a concern for all businesses, SMEs and MNCs alike. The climate emergency has put green initiatives and sustainability goals at the top of the priority list.
  • Singapore’s Green Plan 2030 includes many projects like Changi Airport Terminal 5, Tuas Port and an island-wide EV charging network. This transition will require green skills as companies across sectors adopt more environmentally sustainable practices.

Digital economy

Care economy

  • Advances in technology and healthcare are increasing life expectancy. This is a global trend, making the Care Economy into becoming one of the fastest-expanding economic sectors.
  • This Care ecosystem offers care and support services to nurture and develop current and future populations. This ranges from preventative care, workplace learning, and mental well-being.

Put yourself in the best positon to succeed

Riding these global trends can make a huge impact on your career growth.

Joining a company in a great market means there will be many doors opening for you. 

There are many factors that influence your career, from the overall economy, industry trends, and sheer luck. A lot is out of your control. But you can put yourself in the best position to succeed by observing how the landscape is changing, knowing what you’re worth, and acquiring in-demand knowledge and skills.

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