Fri, Dec 27, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Employers to take the brakes off pay in 2003

THAW Few employees in Taiwan have had any salary increases for two years; employers now recognize that next year things will be different

By Annabel Lue  /  STAFF REPORTER

After two years of stagnant wages, more than 40 percent of employers are expecting to raise salaries in 2003, according to a poll yesterday.

"According to our survey, about 41 percent of Taiwanese companies plan to raise salaries early next year," said Wayne Shiah (夏瑋), spokesman for 1111 Job Bank (1111人力銀行).

He added that the news is encouraging, because most companies have frozen pay over the last two years or cut salaries due to sluggish sales.

The phone poll of 2,199 human resource department officials was conducted between Dec. 2 and Dec. 20.

The survey also revealed that salary increases will be small, with 60 percent of employers saying they will raise salaries only 5 percent in 2003.

Employees in financial holding companies, high-tech firms and import and export companies are expected to receive the best wage increases.

Bank, insurance and securities firm employees are expected to see their salaries grow by 6.11 percent followed by international trading companies and high-tech firms at 4.11 percent, according to the survey.

Many companies use pay increases as a means of strengthening employee loyalty.

"Building staff loyalty is especially important in the financial and high-tech sectors since retaining professionals is difficult," Shiah said.

And with the talent pool limited, financial incentives may prove a must next year.

"The market competition is severe and we need to retain talent to keep the company competitive," said Gavin Lin (林盛隆), spokesman of Soft-World International Corp (智冠科技), a major online game developer.

Since Soft-World, like many Taiwanese companies, doesn't offer overtime pay, it relies on pay increases or performance bonuses to prevent employees from jumping ship.

The company reported a net profit of NT$460 million in 2002, a 170 percent surge from last year's NT$170 million.

Soft-World is considering raising salaries by more than 3 percent next year, Lin said.

Financial holding company staff are also proving hard to hang on to.

"Given the complicated business functions of financial holding companies, we prefer to employ multi-talented staff with knowledge of banking, investments and insurance," said Kao Su-yuan (高蘇源), a manager at Fubon Financial Holding Co (富邦金控). These individuals are especially difficult to retain, he said.

In addition to raising salaries, the financial giant also plans to give employees fat red envelopes at Lunar New Year.

Fubon employees are expected to receive six-month year-end bonuses, Chinese-language media reported yesterday, quoting Fubon chairman Daniel Tsai (蔡明忠).

Taiwanese firms traditionally give employees a year-end bonus prior to the Lunar New Year, which this year starts on Jan. 31.

More than 78 percent of companies around the nation also plan to hand out bonuses which average 1.4 month's salary, according to the Job Bank survey.

The largest red envelopes will be given to financial industry staff, with the average bonus expected to be around 2.37 months, the survey said.

Also see story:

Public believes civil servants should pay for economic slump

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