APAC Employment Monitor Q3 2015 Highlights:
- Job vacancies remained flat year-on-year in Q3 2015 compared to Q3 2014
- The number of professionals actively seeking employment was up 10% year-on-year from Q3 2014 to Q3 2015
- Job vacancies decreased by 5% quarter-on-quarter from Q2 2015 to Q3 2015
- The number of professionals actively seeking employment was up 7% quarter-on-quarter from Q2 2015 to Q3 2015
The Q3 2015 Asia Pacific Employment Monitor shows that professionals are becoming increasingly confident with their prospects of career enhancing job changes. On a year-on-year basis, professionals seeking new roles rose 10% from 31,581 to 34,844. Vacancies were flat year-on-year with a change of 0.2% from 15,316 to 15,342. Those seeking new employment also grew on a quarter-on-quarter basis from 32,499 to 34,844: a rise of 7%. Quarter-on-quarter, job vacancies decreased 5% from 16,052 to 15,432.
“We’re seeing a generational shift in the jobs market,” said Richie Holliday, Chief Operations Officer, Asia Pacific. “Generation Y are more willing to change employers. Whilst money is an important factor to them, so is recognition. They want quicker career progression and to get those promotions they realise a change of employer often speeds up that process”.
“It’s worth noting however, that salaries across APAC are close to other prominent financial centres such as London,” continued Holliday. Recent data from salary benchmarking site, Emolument suggests that 25% of Middle and Back Office professionals in Asia earn more than $100,000 (USD), compared to 36% of Middle and Back Office professionals in the UK.
Another factor to consider is the changing trend in the originating background of expatriates in Asia. Five years ago the average expatriate was a Westerner on a short-term assignment, working for a large multinational. Now that profile is different, with only about a third of them fitting the “traditional” mould. The new generation of expatriates is mainly made up of Western-educated Asians returning to build careers in Asia and younger Western ones willing to relocate to Asia for the long term.
On the macro front it’s been a rough three months for markets in the APAC region, the fall in asset prices has been led by China, which has experienced a particularly bad quarter. The worst day for Chinese equities was Monday, 24th of August, when the Shanghai market closed nearly 9% down in a single day. This was the worst day for Chinese stocks since 2007 and has been called China’s own “Black Monday”.
“One quarter is not a long enough time frame to make any conclusive assumptions about the knock-on effects of the crash in Chinese equities,” said Holliday. “Some hiring managers have put a temporary hold on planned increases in headcount, but the last quarter of the year will show us if we can expect a longer term decrease in hiring”.
Wage growth in Australia remains particularly sluggish. In figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics wages grew a mere 2.3% for the past year. This is a record low, breaking the previous low set in March of 2015. Wage growth has now been below average for a prolonged period of time with women feeling the brunt of the slow wage growth. While women’s participation in the workforce has increased by 25% during the past three decades, when it comes to wages, women earn an average of 6% less than men. It is now estimated that 90% of Australian women will retire with insufficient savings.
One of the few bright spots in AsiaPac economies in the previous quarter was Japan. With unemployment remaining low and a record number of women in employment, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said the labour market “continues to be on a recovery path”. This was supported by wage figures which saw a rebound in September after falling in August. Adjusted for inflation wages grew by 0.3%, this was the first rise in over two years. However, summer bonuses were flat, causing concerns about household spending.
Chinese shares experienced a poor quarter, partly driven by poor market sentiment and disappointing macro data from fixed-asset investment and industrial production. Retail sales, which beat expectations, were the only positive aspect.
Despite the market turmoil and poor economic figures, jobseekers’ confidence remains high. For the second quarter the China Institute for Employment Research (CIER) Index came in at 2.03, with a figure above 1 indicating that jobseeker confidence is high. The number is however lower than the record high of 2.46 reported in Q1 of 2015. The job market looks particularly strong for those Chinese candidates who are fluent in English with the demand coming from multinational corporations who are reducing foreign staff. Bilingual candidates with specific niche skills are able to command salary increases of up to 30%, due to the limited talent pool.
The Singapore job market is showing signs of a slowdown. Unemployment figures released by the Ministry of Manpower showed an increase from 1.8% to 2.0% during the first quarter. In a post published on Facebook the Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say wrote: “Our employment situation is by no means perfect, but it is one of the best in the world. Our employment rate is one of the highest globally while our unemployment rate is one of the lowest. We must strive to keep it this way for as long as we can”. Headhunters in Singapore have not as yet seen any negative impact on hiring due to the market turmoil in China. However, recruiters are fearing a complete halt to hiring in the second quarter of next year as a result of a possible global growth slowdown.
The Hong Kong Financial Secretary John Tsang has said that economic growth could slow down in the second half of the year. In a blog post, Tsang cited emerging market outflows and uncertainties in the global economy as likely causes. “The speed of the economic growth may not be as high as that in the first half of the year. But I think there is no need to be overly worried or pessimistic because our economic foundation remains good and I believe we are strong and experienced enough to cope with the possible rough situations that may come.” Despite Tsang’s pessimistic comments, figures released in August showed the local economy expanding by a stronger than expected 2.8%. According to human resources professionals and academics fresh graduates are less hardworking than previous generations. Simon Lee Siu-po, assistant dean of undergraduate studies at Chinese University’s business school, said that students are unable to cope with challenges and lack problem solving skills. This has resulted in many employers favouring hiring mainland students, who are seen to perform better and value more what they earn.
Richie Holliday concluded by adding, “Although the region saw a severe financial shock due to the market correction in China, professionals seeking new roles remained confident. Some employers put on the brakes in regards to hiring, in a move to see how permanent the market drop would be. The fourth quarter should see a pick-up in hiring, providing that the markets remain stable.”
How to lead a high-performing team
By Matthew Emerson, Founder and Managing Director, Blackmore Four
When we think about a great team, the image we conjure up almost always includes a superstar leader. A smiling Sir Alex Ferguson guiding Manchester United to countless domestic and European successes year after year. The conductor of an orchestra, drenched in sweat, turning to take rapturous applause from an appreciative audience. The self-styled entrepreneur-turned-CEO who has steered their company’s share price, profit margins and brand recognition to levels of international envy. Our bias to assign the leader credit or blame for successes or failures that are actually outcomes of a team effort is strong and widespread, and results in both positive and negative outcomes for individual leaders that often overlook any team-based root causes.
Clearly, some people are better at leading teams than others. It is quite reasonable, therefore, to try and identify the traits that distinguish effective leaders from those who consistently fail to get the best out of people they work with. Literally hundreds of research studies have attempted to see which traits predict leadership effectiveness. However, none have succeeded in identifying any set of universal traits that could reliably distinguish and predict effective leadership from the rest.
For one thing, research has shown that there is no one leadership style that works well across all situations. A style that may be just what is needed when working with skilled and trusted colleagues to develop a team may fail badly when a newly-formed team encounters a challenging situation that requires a quick, decisive team response.
A second problem with leadership styles stems from our assumption that leader behaviour is the cause of member behaviour and team dynamics. In fact, a leader’s style may, in many circumstances, be as much a consequence of members’ behaviours as it is a cause of that behaviour. For example, if a leader is charged with managing a team of subordinates who are both competent and cooperative, the leader is likely to be more effective responding with a considerate, participative leadership style. However, if team members are obviously not capable in carrying out the work and, moreover, demonstrate aggression in their dealings with the leader, a much more structured, directive and autocratic style is likely to be exhibited, to varying degrees of effectiveness. Excellent team leaders are aware of their natural styles—they know what they like to do, what they can do easily and well, and what they can accomplish.
On the one hand, we tend to overattribute responsibility for collective outcomes to the team leader. Although that tendency is often exaggerated there is no doubt that what a team leader does (and doesn’t do) is highly consequential for team performance. Instead of focusing on a leader’s generalised behaviour (style) and who they are (character, superhero), the focus should be shifted onto what it is they actually do (action).
Effective leaders focus on the four basic factors we discussed in the previous articles in this series, starting with a compelling direction and clear accountability. The team need to know that they are a real, interdependent team and that normalised behaviours, high expectations and trusting relationships are agreed across the group.
Sometimes most of these conditions will already be in place when a team is formed and fine-tuning them will not pose much of a leadership challenge. Other times, when the focus has been on individual work not teamwork, it will take great effort to establish these four basic factors.
Behavioural leadership skills
Great team leaders do not rely on any single strategy for promoting high team performance. Instead, they work hard in getting all of the factors we have been discussing aligned and pulling in the same direction. However, it’s not sufficient for those who lead teams merely to know about the factors for high performance; they also need to know how to create and maintain those factors—in a word, they need to be skilled in leading teams.
Effective team leaders are skilled in executing actions that narrow the gap between what is happening in the group or its context, compared with what the leader believes should be happening. They are also skilled at managing their emotional response, resisting the impulses of acting too quickly and dealing with one’s anxieties.
Effective leaders demonstrate their ability to tap into the collective resources and coach teams in order to exploit potential to the fullest extent. Being able to exploit those special moments at the beginning, middle and end of task and team life cycles can prevent future breakdowns or factors that hinder high performance.
The ability to inspire others is another commonly identified, essential behavioural skill for leaders of high-performing teams. The is no single best way to provide it, but the key is to identify which of your skills and styles can best be used to create in others the passion you feel for your work and then to hone and develop those resources as one core element in your personal repertoire of team leadership skills.
Leading high-performing teams
There is no way to “make” a team perform well, let alone sustain outstanding high performance. Teams create their own destinies to a great extent. After a team has launched itself on a particular path, its own actions create additional experiences which then guide members’ subsequent behaviour, which can set in motion either a cycle of ever-increasing competence and commitment or a downward spiral that ends in collective failure.
Once members have established their shared view of the world and settled into a set of behavioural routines, there is not a great deal that leaders can do to change the team’s basic direction or momentum. What leaders can do is make sure the team is set up right in the first place, action the four factors and then constantly hone and learn to develop a number of key skills specific to team leadership.
Matthew Emerson is the Founder and Managing Director of Blackmore Four, an Essex based management consultancy working with leaders of ambitious businesses to achieve outstanding performance through periods of growth or significant change.
Starting his career at Ford Motor Company, Matthew has developed his expertise in Organisational Effectiveness in key senior HR, Organisational Development and Talent roles, predominantly in Financial Services (Credit Suisse, Barclays and DBS) and most recently as the Group Head of Talent and Performance at UBS AG.
Having worked in and across Asia for six years as well as having ‘global’ responsibility in a number of his roles, Matthew has an appreciation of international and multi-cultural working environments. He also has a multi-sector perspective, having worked with organisations in Manufacturing, Healthcare, Education and Technology.
Oil prices steady as lockdowns curb U.S. stimulus optimism
By Noah Browning
LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices were steady on Monday as support from U.S. stimulus plans and jitters about supplies competed with worries about demand due to renewed lockdowns to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.
Brent crude futures for March rose 7 cents, or 0.1%, to $55.48 a barrel by 1210 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for March was up 5 cents, or 0.1%, at $52.32.
“Sentiment was buoyed by expectations for a blockbuster coronavirus relief package … (but) the tug of war between stimulus optimism and virus woes is set to continue,” said Stephen Brennock of broker PVM.
U.S. lawmakers are set to lock horns over the size of a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package proposed by new President Joe Biden, financial stimulus that would support the economy and fuel demand.
European nations, major consumers, have imposed tough restrictions to halt the spread of the virus, while China reported a rise in new COVID-19 cases, casting a pall over demand prospects in the world’s largest energy consumer.
Barclays raised its 2021 oil price forecasts, but said rising cases in China could contribute to near-term pullbacks.
“Even though the pandemic is not yet slowing down, oil prices have good reasons to start the week with gains,” said Bjornar Tonhaugen from Rystad Energy.
Supply concerns have offered some support. Indonesia said its coast guard seized an Iranian-flagged tanker over suspected illegal fuel transfers, raising the prospect of more tensions in the oil-exporting Gulf.
“A development that always benefits prices is the market turbulence that conflicts create,” Tonhaugen added.
Libyan oil guards halted exports from several main ports in a pay dispute on Monday.
Output from Kazakhstan’s giant Tengiz field was disrupted by a power outage on Jan. 17.
(Editing by David Goodman and Edmund Blair)
Dollar steadies; euro hurt by vaccine delays and German business morale slump
By Elizabeth Howcroft
LONDON (Reuters) – The dollar steadied, the euro slipped and riskier currencies remained strong on Monday, as currency markets were torn between optimism about U.S. stimulus plans, and the reality of slow vaccine rollout and the economic impact of lockdowns in Europe.
Market sentiment had turned more cautious at the end of last week as European economic data showed that lockdown restrictions to limit the spread of the virus hurt business activity, dragging stocks lower.
The safe-haven dollar declined gradually overnight, and riskier currencies strengthened. It then recovered some losses after European markets opened, and was at 90.224 against a basket of currencies at 1152 GMT, flat on the day.
On one hand, market sentiment is supported by hopes for President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus plans, as well as the expectation that central banks will continue to provide liquidity.
But, in Europe, the extent of the risk appetite was limited by a lack of progress in rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine as well the economic impact of lockdown measures.
German business morale slumped to a six-month low in January, surprising market participants who had expected the survey to show a rise.
“It’s very much a case of hopes for the future against the reality of the first quarter of this year which is going to still prove to be fairly troubled,” said Jeremy Stretch, head of G10 FX strategy at CIBC Capital Markets.
“For now at least, the optimism that we’re hoping for has been somewhat delayed and that has taken a little bit of steam out of the euro and just put a little bit of support back in the dollar but ultimately I think it is still a case of those high-beta commodity currencies, reflation currencies, will continue to perform well,” he said.
Analysts expect a broad dollar decline during 2021. The net speculative short position on the dollar grew to its largest in ten years in the week to Jan. 19, according to weekly futures data from CFTC released on Friday.
The U.S. Federal Reserve meets on Wednesday and Fed Chair Jerome Powell is expected to signal that he has no plans to wind back the Fed’s massive stimulus any time soon – news which could push the dollar down further.
“The process of tapering QE is likely to be a gradual process which could last throughout 2022, and then potentially be followed by the first rate hikes later in 2023,” wrote MUFG currency analyst Lee Hardman.
“In these circumstances, we continue to believe that it is premature to expect the US dollar to rebound now in anticipation of policy tightening ahead, and still see scope for further weakness this year,” he said.
The euro was down around 0.1% against the dollar, at $1.2153 at 1207 GMT. At the European Central Bank meeting last week, President Christine Lagarde said the bank was closely watching the euro. The euro surged 9% last year versus the dollar and reached new two and a half year highs earlier in January.
But despite this verbal intervention, traders remain bullish on the euro, expecting the bar for a rate cut to be high.
Elsewhere, the Australian dollar, which is seen as a liquid proxy for risk, was up 0.2% at 0.7726 versus the U.S. dollar at 1208 GMT.
The New Zealand dollar was up 0.5%, while the commodity-driven Norwegian crown was up 0.2% the euro.
The safe-haven Japanese yen was flat on the day at 103.815 versus the U.S. dollar.
Graphic: USD, https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/qmypmyjdxpr/USD.png
(Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft, editing by Ed Osmond and Chizu Nomiyama)
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