Discover the Rewards Trends Driving Pay Strategies in APAC

In a competitive talent market, your remuneration and rewards strategy can make a critical difference to your business success.

Organizations in APAC are increasingly turning to interim hires and shifting towards a whole person approach to hiring to fill gaps and achieve growth targets.

Finding and keeping the right people is taking center stage in the APAC region, including Australia, where more than half of organizations are anticipating revenue growth over the coming year. Korn Ferry’s Australia Rewards Trend Survey of nearly 700 Australian organizations suggests salaries will continue to grow by 4% in 2024—outstripping inflation rates for the first time since 2021.

That means you need a solid pay strategy if you want to attract the best people. These three key trends should help.

1 Build a Compelling Employee Value Proposition

While turnover in Australia is slowing down, organizations remain focused on retention, with HR leaders’ KPIs shifting from speed of hire to retaining people in the first 12 months.

This also means reviewing the skills and capabilities organizations need to succeed, says Farhan Mahmood, Partner, Korn Ferry Digital APAC.

“Effective HR leaders in APAC are looking at the foundations of work and making sure they have the right people at the right level,” he explains. “They’re defining roles not simply based on technical capability, but also taking a wider view of success in a role. Looking at the expectations of a role, the hard and soft skills and experience, and the traits and drivers of a person in that role.”

Organizations are also paying more attention to employee needs—leading to what Michael Moses, Partner at Korn Ferry Australia, calls the “golden age of HR.” “Human capital is finally being recognized not just as an expense but as an asset.”

And HR leaders in APAC are looking at how they can mitigate the human capital risk—the gap between people they need and people they currently have—and how they think about total rewards.

One industrials sector client in Australia, for example, is hypervigilant about paying competitively, making negotiations less about pay than about the total rewards offered.

“They let the rest of their employee value proposition sell itself, offering career opportunities, training, safety, and well-being, which helps take the focus off pay,” says Moses.

2 Building Employee Growth into Total Rewards

More than half (51%) of our survey participants said a lack of growth was the top reason for resignations.

“Actively giving people the opportunities to develop skills and move laterally is critical to retaining your top talent—and helps organizations stay competitive in the market from a total rewards perspective,” says Mahmood.

And effective HR leaders start by understanding, measuring, and aligning work with talent.

“Successful organizations have a well-defined career architecture that focuses beyond pay into leadership development and succession across job levels, linking these back to skills development,” explains Mahmood.

“A clear career architecture allows you to not only hire for what someone will be doing today, but also how they’ll contribute in the future.”

He cites one retail energy client in Australia that has developed a road map for career pathways for specific roles, mapping out talent succession and aligning these with their pay and rewards strategy. “This allows them to link the right skills with job profiles and assess their talent, creating clear pathways for growth and development.”

3 Making Gender Equality a Priority

As employer gender pay gap data becomes more transparent in Australia, there’s a clear imperative for organizations to get pay equality right.

Our survey found the role-based gender gap across Australian organizations is at 2.6%. More than half (56%) of survey participants have taken action to address this gap, reducing it to 0.9% for new hires.

“Companies making progress don’t simply look at pay equality in terms of equal pay for equal work. They look at equal hiring and talent management processes and policies as well—allowing them to take meaningful action,” Mahmood explains.

These include policies that empower mothers to come back to work and having male and female interviewers present during the recruitment process.

Gender Equity Isn’t Set and Forget

While implementing policies to address the gap is important, actively managing these is critical, says Moses.

“If you set and fix these policies, you’re going to run into the same issues every year. We’ve seen that proactively managing them makes sure biases don’t creep back in,” he says. “Organizations that continually reinterrogate and adjust their policies are seeing the most progress in reducing gender gaps.”

Many HR leaders in Australia are focusing on improving representation for specific roles and levels during recruitment (75%) and promotions (67%), while also offering higher salary increases to underpaid groups (70%).

Others are looking at more significant changes to their policies. “Another mining company in APAC, for example, removed pay discretion as much as possible, as discretion can drive bias. Limiting discretion and using narrow pay ranges has led to a lower gender pay gap compared to their peers and the market more generally,” explains Moses.

Total Rewards

A great total rewards program is better for business and your employees

Optimize Total Rewards for Talent Retention

In the battle for talent, competitive remuneration is a baseline requirement. But the winners are combining pay strategies with clear career pathways, meaningful opportunities for growth aligned with skills, and proactively managed pay equality across every role.

“And they’re seeing better talent acquisition and retention rates—which drive organizational performance and growth,” says Mahmood.

A well-designed rewards strategy can boost ROI in people investments, drive growth, and help you achieve pay equality. And the right technology can give you that competitive edge.

Learn how Korn Ferry Intelligence Cloud can help you nail your total rewards strategy.

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