macdonald and company
macdonald and company

Asia - How Employees Really Feel in Real Estate & the Built Environment in 2019

Posting date: 1 April 2019
William Glover our consultant managing the role

Understanding Rewards & Attitudes Helps Employers Hire & Retain Staff

The 2019 RICS and Macdonald & Company Rewards & Attitudes Survey had responses from across the Asian real estate and built environment community. The salary checker also incorporates questions about rewards and motivations, views on market sentiment, prospects of finding new jobs in real estate and talent management issues affecting our sector. We introduced new experience-level banding as well as different seniority levels specific to industry and specialisms to benchmark more effectively in 2020. For the 13th consecutive year, RICS and Macdonald & Company surveyed employees in the real estate and built environment in Asia. The results are in, been analysed and we have derived meaningful conclusions. The survey remains the industry standard and is a benchmark for employers and professionals working in our industry across Asia. 

Year of the Pig

What is it that the survey tells us about the rewards and motivations of employees? What do professionals in the industry think about the future? How do they believe their companies will perform during 2019?  Here is a summary of a few of the main findings of the survey. This year’s RICS and Macdonald & Company Rewards and Attitudes Survey incorporates questions measuring both rewards and attitudes, and introduces experience-level banding and seniority- and industry-specific data. As such, this year’s survey provides the answers that will help employers in Asia, employees and industry bodies to consider and deliver successful policies and strategies.  

Salaries Rise Despite Uncertainty

2018 may be remembered as the year of uncertainty with China, the USA, UK and Europe experiencing headwinds, but nonetheless salaries paid to professionals in the real estate and built environment generally rose. The industry could have been held back by many factors. Trump’s trade wars and global geopolitical concerns may have dented the confidence of market observers, but this appears not to have translated into the real world of work.

Each industry sector saw median base salaries increase substantially. Measured across all industries, those who received a salary increase benefited from an average 7.5% increase. Though this is down from the 10% increase reported in last year’s survey, it is a significant rise in a year when inflation and confidence have both been subdued. Broken down by the industry sector, the survey found that median base salaries increased as follows:

The annual pay review continues to be the main reason for a salary increase. Of the 55% of professionals who reported a salary increase over the previous 12 months, 61% received their pay increase at their annual review. The other major reason for a salary increase included:

Promotion (11%)
Moving jobs (11%)
Achieving a professional qualification (6%)

Here we break down the median base salary increase by industry compared to 2018:

65% recieved pay rise at annual review
top reasons to change jobs
RICS salary survey

RICS Qualification Makes a Huge Difference to Salaries

As well as learning that employers reward their employees for gaining professional qualifications, the survey discovered just how big a difference a professional qualification makes to base salaries. This year’s survey found that the difference between salaries for RICS qualified and non-qualified respondents has widened substantially. 54% of respondents to the survey feel that one of the main benefits of RICS qualification is a higher salary, and it appears that this belief is correct. In the 2018 survey, RICS qualified respondents reported an average salary of 18.1% higher than their non-qualified peers. This year, the difference has more than doubled to 38% ($78,072 vs. $56,800). Other benefits of RICS membership were cited as professional accreditation, working to international standards, career advancement, and networking options.

Experience Pays Higher Salaries

When considering experience of employees, companies are willing to pay sizeable premiums to more experienced staff. The median salary rises rapidly for those with between two and four years of experience, to $35,520. Those with between 11 and 15 years of experience receive an average median salary of $78,492. Median salaries continue to rise throughout a career in the real estate and built environment as follows:

16 to 20 years’ experience – $85,200
21 to 30 years’ experience – $99,817
30 years’ experience – $124,800

Experience means Higher Bonuses and LTIPs

While salaries increase with qualifications and experience, that experience pays extra dividends when it comes to rewarding performance. 
Reward for good performance may include one-off payments for passing probationary periods or gaining professional qualifications, as indicated by the relatively high percentage of average bonuses paid to those with fewer than two years of experience (approximately 23% of average median base salary). Average bonuses in absolute terms grow substantially and are commensurate with experience, rising to almost $20,000 for those with more than 30 years of experience. Interestingly, long-term incentive plan (LTIP) rewards are introduced to those with between 11 and 15 years of experience, and increase significantly to around two-thirds of median base salary for those with between 21 and 30 years of experience.

Real Estate Gender Pay Gap in Asia rises with age and experience

This year, the response ratio of females increased from 20% of respondents to 22%. This reflects the efforts of employers to encourage more women into the industry. Almost a third of new RICS enrolments are now female professionals.
The survey found that the gender pay gap increases with age, and becomes more pronounced when bonuses are included. For example, at age 27 to 30, the median base salary of males in the industry is $43,680 compared to the median base salary of $42,120 paid to females. 

The median bonus paid to males in this age group is $10,416, and to females is $9,873. The gender base salary gap widens dramatically at the age range of 46 to 55:
Age Range Male Female Salary Gap %
31 to 35         $64,800 $55,350   17%
36 to 45         $88,800 $78,000   14%
46 to 55        $103,500 $82,140   26%

Do Bonuses Cloud Gender Pay Gap?

Bonuses, too, are consistently lower for females, and at some age ranges the gender bonus gap is even more dramatic than the gender salary gap. While bonuses paid to males and females in the age range of 27 to 30 are broadly similar ($10,416 compared to $9,873 respectively), the gender gap is most marked in the 31 to 35 and 46 to 55 age groups:
• The median bonus for males at ages 31 to 35 is $33,562, compared to the $14,437 received by females
• The median bonus for males at ages 46 to 55 is $36,112, compared to the $9,917 received by females
Bonuses do not get reported when reporting salaries for measuring and monitoring the gender pay gap. Could companies be using the backdoor of bonus payments to reward male employees more than their female employees? The figures seem to indicate this could be so. 

However, the lower gender pay gap at younger ages is indicative that the industry is coming to terms with the issue, and that employers are addressing the problem positively. As the greater number of women entering the real estate and built environment filters through to age and experience, a narrowing of the gender pay gap is likely through the older age groups. This will not be an overnight process, but it does appear that progress is being made – companies may be wise to also consider strategies to ensure that women receive the bonuses that their experience and performance merit. 

How Real Estate Professionals Feel 

The survey also sought to discover if professionals felt valued in their current roles, and what affected their feelings toward this perception. 53% of respondents reported feeling valued in their current roles. Salary was noted by all respondents as being a factor in how valued they feel. Other common triggers include:
Work/life balance (88%)
Line manager appreciation (81%)
Bonus (74%)

What Annoys Professionals Most

When considering the desire to search for a new position and challenge elsewhere, the survey found that a range of factors played their part influencing dissatisfaction in current roles. Those with the most impact, rated at 4 or 5 on a scale of 1 to 5, are:
  • No salary review (70%)
  • Lower-than-expected bonus (63%)
  • Lack of line manager recognition (60%)
  • Having to work during annual leave (58%)
  • Unreliable/slow technology (57%)
  • Having to work weekends (56%)

How Employers Attract and Retain the Best People

When considering moving, respondents to the survey cited salary, career progression, and training and development as the three most important factors. Other factors that professionals consider important include leadership team, location, the potential for bonuses, and job security. Such considerations align with responses to the question asked in the survey, “What would make you more productive at work?” Respondents could select multiple options, and answers included:
A salary increase – rated as most impact by 47%
An increase to bonus – rated as most impact by 35%
Recognition by the CEO/board – considered by 34% as most impact
Recognition by line manager – considered by 31% as most impact

Work/life balance considerations also rated highly, with the freedom to set their own hours and occasional working from home being cited most impact by 26% and 19% respectively.

Clearly, professionals expect to be paid commensurate with their role. However, they also desire that their performance is recognised with encouragement and recognition in the form of bonuses and appreciation by C-level executives and line managers. In addition, professionals want to have more say over how and where they work, with a desire to equalise their work/life balance.

it is perhaps surprising to learn that 53% of respondents consider themselves to be either likely or very likely to move jobs in the next 12 months. Though down from 68% in last year’s survey, this level of potential job mobility remains a worrying statistic for employers who need to ensure their operations are manned by suitably experienced and qualified staff. Higher staff turnover leads to higher costs and less consistency of service delivery.

Staff Retention Remains Priority

The survey asked respondents about career expectations. Questions sought to discover if professionals were likely to be seeking new opportunities this year. In a year in which there is so much uncertainty (and it is generally considered that global economic growth will slow), 

65% believe 2019 better than 2018

RICS Qualification Pays

The 2019 survey provides unrivalled and highly detailed insight into how professionals feel about their roles, their work, their employers, and the future for the industry. Responses were collected from Singapore (23%), Hong Kong (21%), India (13%), Australia (13%) and China (9%) among other countries.

The spread of responses allows us to learn much about how the industry rewards its employees and how those employees are feeling about their work, employers, and the industry. In current market conditions, it is imperative that employers understand how their employees feel and think. This information is essential when considering hiring and retention strategies. The findings of the 2019 Asia salary survey are invaluable to all employers in real estate & the built environment. 

Clearly, remuneration is an important motivator for people when making the choice to stay with or leave an employer, as well as when considering new opportunities. However, it is also clear that people have a desire to do good work and be recognised for their performance, including opportunities for training and development, and to advance their careers.

Further Remuneration Insights

We have provided a summary of the survey’s main findings. The full survey offers much more, including how professionals think their companies will perform, views on how the industry will fare in the future, and how professionals believe their own careers, salaries and bonuses may evolve. 

As the leading professional recruitment consultancy for the real estate and built environment sectors, and the preferred recruitment partner of RICS, our job is to help employers access the very best talent in real estate & the built environment and help that talent find the best employer for them. As such, we consider the survey essential reading, giving unparalleled insight to employers who forge their own success and are winning the war for talent. To benefit from this insight and learn more of the surveys findings, contact Macdonald & Company today.

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