SURGING inflation is a key factor in an employee’s decision to seek higher pay, according to a survey by global recruitment firm Robert Walters which also said an employer’s response is crucial to talent retention.

“More than 70% of professionals will be looking for a new job if they are not seeing their salary at par with the inflation levels,” Robert Walters Philippines Director Alejandro Perez-Higuero told BusinessWorld in a virtual interview.

“72% of professionals expect companies to consider the cost of living for determining salary increments,” he added.

His comments reflect the results of Robert Walters’ Global Salary Survey 2023, which was conducted in September last year and involved more than 2,000 respondent companies and clients.

The country’s inflation rate accelerated to 8.7% in January, higher than the 3% registered in the same month last year and 8.1% in December, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. The higher inflation rate was attributed to increases in home rentals, electricity prices, and water rates.

Mr. Perez-Higuero said employers should match salary packages to market rates and ensure clear roles to attract and retain talent.

“Make sure that they (salary packages) are competitive and they (employers) know what the market rates are in order to match those when it comes to retaining and hiring people,” Mr. Perez-Higuero said.

“Flexibility and other benefits are now more important than ever. Employees are going to appreciate employers that look after them. Employers should keep making efforts to understanding their employees’ needs from a benefits perspective,” he added.

According to Mr. Perez-Higuero, the survey also showed that employees’ salaries in the Philippines are expected to increase by 4% in 2023 amid surging inflation and higher living costs.

“Employees with the right skills, and with skills in demand, will be entitled to be more demanding when it comes to asking their employers to match their salaries with the increased costs of life,” Mr. Perez-Higuero said.

Mr. Perez-Higuero added that employers could better retain their employees if they improve their human resource (HR) policies and introduce employee learning and development.

“If employers want to retain their people, they’ll need to work on their learning and development or HR, policies or culture or capabilities so they can keep key employees constantly engaged. That will probably stop them to look for something else because they are actually challenged and they’re actually learning,” Mr. Perez-Higuero said.

“Nowadays, especially given that the workforce is slowly being populated by millennials and Gen Z, work-life balance is non-negotiable. There is a whole community out there where they can check a company’s background and culture before they decide to be recruited,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mr. Perez-Higuero said that the Philippines is expected to become a global shared services hub, attributing it to the country’s English-speaking population.

“As more and more startups — especially those that specialize in technology, finance, and digital services — enter the market this year, we expect the Philippines to strengthen its position in the global workforce market by the end of 2023,” he said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave