Workforce attitudes on pay & flexibility from Singapore, China, India, and Australia

12 June 2023

Untitled Design(1)

​The workforce across the region has varying expectations - for example, 90% of workers in India, and 83% of workers in China, expect a pay raise this year.

A majority of Singapore workers feel that gender pay equality (47%) and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) (43.1%) within their companies have not seen improvements in the past three years. This is in contrast with APAC regions like Australia, China and India, where respondents generally feel that gender pay equality (55.5%) and DEI (57.8%) have improved in the past three years.

This data is from ADP Research Institute’s People at Work 2023: A Global Workforce View report, which surveyed 32,612 workers in 17 markets around the world. Shared below are the APAC findings which include data from workers in Singapore, Australia, China, and India.

Pay and compensation

India had the most prevalent and generous pay rises with 78% of workers receiving a raise of an average of 7%. While half of workers in China were given a raise, Australian workers got the lowest increase (5%). Workers in China are expecting employers to take actions this year, with 83% anticipating a salary increase, while Indian workers continue to expect more raises (90% expect one).

Without a pay raise, most would be happy to receive a one-off bonus, however, 39% of Australians prefer paid time-off. Other employee benefits such as travel vouchers and sabbaticals are popular in India and China respectively. In contrast, 12% of Australians would only be happy with a pay rise.

Regular underpayment of wages is a prevalent issue in India, where 69% say they’re always, often or sometimes underpaid. However, Indian workers continue to give 10 hours and 39 minutes of unpaid time per week. In terms of unpaid time per week in the other APAC markets covered, Singaporeans claim eight hours and 11 minutes, Chinese say seven-and-a-half hours, and Australians cite seven hours and 10 minutes per week.

These findings suggest that workers in APAC are dedicated to their work and have varying expectations for compensation in different forms such as pay rise, paid time-off or travel incentives.

The demand for flexible work arrangements

Currently, more than two in five Indian workers (44%) say they have complete flexibility in where they work, compared to just under one in four (24%) in Singapore, one in five (20%) in Australia and one in six (16%) in China. Additionally, eight in 10 Indians (80%) think it is possible for them to relocate while staying with their current employer, compared to three in 10 Australians (30%).

Across the region, ideas on flexible work arrangements becoming the norm in the next five years vary. Close to one in three (30%) Australians are most confident about a four-day work week becoming the norm, while 34% of Singaporeans expect a hybrid working model to become the norm. In India, full flexibility is anticipated based on productivity and results metrics, while in China, employees are expecting the chance to purchase extra holidays (38%).

Overall, countries have a wide range of expectations on flexible working arrangements.

A caring workplace culture: greater awareness on mental health

With regards to mental health, more than two-thirds of workers in China and India feel able to have open conversations at work, but this drops nearer to half in Australia and Singapore.

However, those in China and India are more likely to say their work is suffering due to poor mental health compared to other regions. 

Interestingly, although Australians claim to be most prone to stress, experiencing it on average 12 times per month, it is reported that 57% said it adversely affects their work; while in the next most-stressed Asia Pacific nation, India, where workers experience stress 11 times per month, 76% say it affects their work.

China and India come out top on DEI, as workers have noticed vast improvements in the last three years. Meanwhile, 24% of Australians and 21% of Singaporeans report that employers do not participate in DEI initiatives, and only 11% in China and 6% in India say they face this issue.