Work-life balance is more important than ever before for employees in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

Salary and benefits was still the biggest consideration for those surveyed by the latest Randstad Employer Brand Research, but its lead at the top has narrowed considerably over the past two years.

In Singapore, 64 per cent of employees ranked salary and benefits as one of the most important factors when looking for a job, with work-life balance at 61 per cent – a gap of just three per cent. Go back two years to 2015 and work life balance was lagging behind salary by 16 per cent.

Work-life balance has seen similar gains in Malaysia, while in Hong Kong employees aged 25 to 44 became the first demographic in all three countries to pick work-life balance as their top priority.

“It’s no secret that work-life balance has been of growing importance for employees around the world,” said Michael Smith, managing director of Randstad Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

“However, the region has always had a much higher importance placed on salary and benefits. This year is the first time that we are noticing such a major shift in sentiment. This once again highlights the extreme importance of keeping the dialogue between organisations and employees open, honest and frequent.

“Job security has also made a big jump in preference in Singapore and Hong Kong, undoubtedly caused by last year’s economic uncertainty and retrenchments,” he added.

The survey also showed that a preference for strong management is on the rise in all three countries. Although it is way below salary and work-life balance in perceived importance, it’s certainly an increasingly important factor and scored similarly to having ‘a pleasant work atmosphere’.

Employers in Singapore who ignore the wishes of their staff do so at their peril; the 2017 Kelly Services and Capita Salary Guide recently found the majority of Singaporeans say they are in a strong position to change jobs, should they want to.

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