Asian reward professionals predict return to war for talent


Asian reward professionals predict return to “War for Talent”

Reward professionals in Asia are predicting a return to the “war for talent” amongst employers, finds new research carried out by Thomsons Online Benefits.

According to the survey, the HR challenge most frequently identified by respondents is employee retention (61%). This was followed by maintaining/improving morale and employee engagement (54%) and controlling employee costs (40%).

The belief that Asia is “quietly emerging with fewer economic backlashes than its western counterpart” is also demonstrated by the fact that almost two-thirds of respondents (64%) state that they are preparing for a period of growth, whereas only one in six (13%) believe their business is heading for a period of contraction.

These findings were among a number of insights revealed in the third “Asia Employee Rewards Watch”, in which 201 organisations took part.


Reward strategy

  • As a result of the recession, 86% of respondents believe that reward professionals are under more pressure to minimise costs and improve return-on-investment in 2010. But 45% of respondents claim their reward costs are escalating most significantly on salaries. “With these two opposing forces, it is no surprise that reward professionals are unable to demonstrate the return-on-investment in relation to reward spend,” the survey says.

  • In fact, six in ten reward (60%) professionals cannot defend or poorly defend their reward spend.

  • Half of respondents reckon they have a documented reward strategy in place. “This represents a significant increase over 2008 suggesting that the economic downturn has placed more importance on having a robust governance approach to reward,” the survey says.


  • Around a quarter of respondents (26%) claim that their biggest issue in relation to their benefits package administration is the burden on internal resources. As many as 23% bemoan the administration efficiency of the benefit providers.

  • Nearly two in ten organisations (19%) do not know how much they spend on employee benefits. Of those that do, the most common estimate is 15% to 25% of salary (21%).

  • Nearly a third of respondents still use “old fashioned” paper-based processes for benefits administration (37%).

  • The changes companies are most likely to introduce into their benefits package in 2010 are reviewing their health and wellbeing offering (49%); considering implementing flexible benefits (33%); and introducing total reward statements (21%).

Flexible benefits

  • Around four in ten respondents either already have flexible benefits (19%) or are considering implementing them (22%), with a handful (3%) currently in the process of implementing flex.

  • The majority of respondents (57%) who are planning to implement flexible benefits are looking to do so within six months to two years. Costs were the primary factor in the implementation decision.

A final word

“The current and future economic climate looks promising for Asia, while uncertainty persists for western economies. Companies in Asia are now in acquisition and expansion mode, credit flows are returning to normal levels (in some places asset bubbles have formed), and (if not already) Asia will return to robust employment norms. Employees will need to be engaged all over again and the war for talent will become a familiar dilemma.

“Forward-thinking companies are looking for ways to improve employee engagement and how they communicate reward programmes. According to our research, nearly a quarter of respondents with traditional benefit plans (22%) are considering implementing flexible benefit programmes.” - Marcus Underhill, Global Reward Director, Thomsons Online Benefits.

Want to know more?

Title: Asia Employee Rewards Watch 2010, Thomsons Online Benefits.

Survey sample: A total of 201 organisations took part in the survey.

Availability: To download a summary of the research in PDF format visit

Thomsons Online Benefits says: “Since our inception, our vision has been to transform employees' appreciation and understanding of their reward package and to remove the administration and communication headaches organisations suffer as a result of running them.” For more details visit