2015 MHRM report

Trends in job satisfaction and other key HR indicators



There are 4 key variables monitored by the MHRM Project over time. These are general job satisfaction, perceived fairness of compensation and benefits, job stress, and intent to stay at organizations.  All 4 variables are measured along a 5-point Likert scale ranged from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest). For the definition of the concepts used in this report, as well as details of the methodology employed and a profile of the study's respondent characteristics, please visit here.

Global trends

Compared to previous years, all four HR indicators recorded higher ratings in 2015.  In earlier years, however, employees' Perceived Fairness of Compensation and Benefit, General Job Satisfaction and Intent to Stay decreased before recovering. The converse was true for Job Stress which crested in 2013 (score 2.78) and from there improved throughout 2014 and 2015 (2.76 and 2.72 respectively). The overall picture, therefore, shows that employees in Macao's labor force show a favorable situation: Employees feelmore satisfied with their jobs, less stressed, feel more fairly paid, and have higher intent to stay at their organizations.

Trends by Industry

Focusing on the years 2014 and 2015 and viewing the 4 HR indicators across different industries, slightly more differences in the situation can be discerned. To wit:

  • Several industries scored higher in Job Satisfaction rating in 2015.  These include Retail and Wholesale, Finance, Public Administration, Leisure and Entertainment, and Construction, Manufacturing the Utilities sectors.  Although the other sectors did not fare as well, the difference is not significant. The Real Estates sector, in particular, show notable decline in job satisfaction.
  • The Real Estates sector also recorded a dip in ratings of Perceived Fairness of Compensation and Benefit, along with Transport and Storage, Leisure and Entertainment, Travel Agencies, Tour Companies & MICE and Construction. Manufacturing & Utilities however, scored increases in ratings, as did Hotels and Retail sectors.
  • Considering the recent economic adjustment, employees tended to express higher intent to stay in their current jobs.  All but Food and Beverage had a higher Intent to Stay ratings in 2015. Though the F&B sector showed a drop in rating, it is only marginal (3.23 vs 3.22).
  • In terms of Job Stress levels, the F&B and Travel Agencies, Tour Companies & MICE sectors experienced significant rating declines, while the Real Estates sector improved. The hotel sector also recorded an unfavorable trend in this indicator, with reported mean stress ratings higher in 2015 than 2014.

Trends by Personal Monthly Income

Considering these 4 HR indicators relative to different levels of respondents’ personal monthly income, the lowest income group (i.e., those with income less than $10,000) showed lower stress levels (2.58 in 2014 vs 2.44 in 2015). Employees earning at higher income levels generally recorded significant improvements in perceived compensation and benefits, general job satisfaction, and higher intent to stay. With the exception of job stress levels, which tends to be the same across all income levels, the higher the monthly income of employees generates improved ratings across all indicators.

TRENDS BY JOB position

Our latest findings show that the higher an employee is in job position, the higher the rating in all but Job Stress indicators--there is a price to pay for success.  Interestingly on Job Stress, 2014 and 2015 told a different story for the top- and entry-level positions. The former felt the stress rising from 2.72 in 2014 to 2.84 in 2015, while the latter felt lower stress, with the indicator dropping from 2.76 in 2014 to 2.66 in 2015.

Trends by Work arrangement

For employees who need to work in shifts, only the Intent of Stay indicator recorded improved ratings in 2015. For employees not working in shifts, all indicators recorded improvements except Job Stress. Comparing the indicators between these 2 groups in 2014 and 2015, employees who did not need to work in shifts generally had better ratings than those working in shifts.

Trends by Educational attainment

Examining the 4 HR indicators by employees' level of educational attainment, the latest data indicates that the lot of employees with vocational education improved significantly from 2014 to 2015 in terms of their perceived fairness in compensation and benefits, job satisfaction, and intent to stay. This employee group's ratings for stress rose to levels comparable with other employees of different educational attainment. 

Trends by Residence Status

In terms of job stress, work permit holders felt the lowest stress levels across 2014 and 2015 and had higher job satisfaction in 2015. Non-permanent residents, however had lower job satisfaction and higher job stress levels.

Trends by Marital Status

Married employees reported better ratings in perceived fairness, general job satisfaction and intent to stay in 2015, except for job stress, which stayed at the same level as in 2014. Employees who are single, however, tend to report lower or poorer ratings across all indicators.

Trends by Presence of Children

All indicators except Job Stress recorded a rise of value in 2015. Employees with children generally reported better ratings in all 4 indicators.

Trends by Gender

Female employees tend to report generally lower job satisfaction than male employees but in 2015, female employees reported significantly higher intent to stay than male employees.


Overall, employees who felt relatively happier in terms of higher perceived fairness in compensation and benefits, better job satisfaction, higher intent to stay, and lower job stress were those:

  • who work in the public sector
  • with higher education level
  • with higher monthly income levels
  • who occupy top positions at their organizations
  • who do not need to work in shifts, and
  • married with children.

In contrast, employees who are not to happy count those:

  • working in gaming and finance sector,
  • working at entry job level with lower pay, and
  • currently single

Employers may want to to understand their situation in order to improve their psycho-social status and so that companies can retain as many of their talents as possible.


Retention fundamentals: Understanding the determinants of employee intention to stay

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How can organizations identify which types of employees are more likely to stay or leave their jobs? What can organizations do to retain them? This special focus report examined relevant individual and organizational factors influencing employees’ intent to stay with their employers. For a definition of the concepts used in this special focus report, as well as details of the methodology employed and a profile of the study's respondent characteristics, please visit here.


A.    Intent to stay (ITS) across different sectors

Employees in the manufacturing industry demonstrated the strongest intent to stay with their current organizations. In contrast, employees working in hotels, restaurants, and casinos show relatively lower intention to stay with their employers.

B.    Employee Characteristics and Their Effect on Intent to Stay (ITS)


B.1. Job Position

Job position plays a significant role in affecting employees’ ITS  (p<0.05). Our findings show that the higher an employee is on the career ladder, the stronger the desire to remain with the organization. 

B.2. Work arrangement: Shift vs regular hours

Employees’ intent to stay differed significantly (p<0.01) between those who work on shift and those who need not work on shift. Moreover, for those employees who have to work on shift, the type of shift work that they do also affect their intent to stay. 

B.3. Job position and work schedule effects on Intent to Stay (ITS)
The combined effect of ‘job position’ and ‘work schedule’ indicates that entry-level workers who are currently doing shift work havelower intention to stay with the organization. 


B.4. Length of service
Our findings show that the longer an employee stays with the organization, the higher the intention to remain with the organization. This suggests a reinforcing cycle--the longer an organization is able to retain an employee over time, the stronger the feeling to stay on.

B.5. Types of career mobility

In this special focus report, we examined the effect of an employee's career mobility (i.e. whether he was ‘internally hired/promoted’ or ‘externally hired’ for the current job position) on intent to stay. To measure employees’ career mobility, the survey asked respondents to disclose information about their job prior to getting into their current position in the company. 


On the surface, our findings show that employee career mobility does not significantly affect employees' intention to stay with their current employers. This suggests that employees who are ‘internally hired’ for a job position are no more committed to the organization than those who are ‘externally hired’.

However, when the combined effect of length of service and career mobility on intent to stay is examined, it becomes apparent that as work tenure lengthens, employees who hold onto their current position by means of ‘internal hiring’ (i.e. they worked their way up the hierarchy)  express a stronger desire to remain with their employers.  This suggests that the effectiveness of ‘internal hiring policy’ grows over time and as long as the organization succeeds in retaining employees.


C.    Organizational Factors and Their Effect on Intent to Stay

C.1. Organizational determinants of intent to stay
Employees’ perceived satisfaction with ‘job security’, ‘job pay’, ‘supervisory quality and recognition’, and ‘social environment’ are shown in Figure 9 below.  

Results of multiple regression analysis conducted to determine which of these 4 organizational factors affected employees' intent to stay indicated that satisfaction with ‘job security’, ‘job pay’, and ‘supervisory quality and recognition’ are significant and positive predictors of intent to stay. More interestingly, satisfaction with‘job pay’ has the largest predictive power, followed by ‘supervisory quality and recognition’ and ‘job security’.  ‘Social environment’ had minimal or no significant influence on employees' intent to stay.

When the same analysis was conducted with the inclusion of job stress, the picture changes slightly: ‘job pay’ remains as the most significant predictor of intent to stay, followed by ‘job stress’ (but a negative predictor), ‘supervisory quality and recognition’, and ‘job security’. ‘Social environment’ remains inconsequential in improving employees' intent to stay.


C.2. Employee and organizational factors of Intent to Stay
We can take the analysis to the next level by examining the combined effect between employee characteristics and organizational factors on intent to stay. For instance, the diagram below (Figure 11) indicates that employees who score higher on intent to stay (ITS) possess two attributes: They do not need to work on shift and they are also more satisfied with their pay. Conversely, employees who demonstrated less desire to stay with the organization are those who need to work on shift and are less satisfied with their pay. (Note: Diagrammatically speaking, we may further say that so long as employees are satisfied with their pay, they will still hold on to their jobs regardless that their jobs require them to work on shift.)


D.    Conclusions

  1. This study identifies employee and organizational characteristics that affect an employee’s intention to stay with the employer. 
  2. Employees’ job position, work schedule, length of service, and career mobility were found to significantly affect intent to stay but in varying degrees. Looking at the combined effect of these factors, however, provides a clearer picture of who are more likely to turn over or leave the organization. 
  3. Organizational factors like job security, job pay, supervisory quality and recognition, and job stress were found to be significant predictors of intent to stay. 


The 3.5-year "itch" - What makes employees stay for the long haul?

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Employee length of service

Some employees stay only a few years in their organizations. On the other hand, it is rare to see employees stay many years, either. In this analysis, we examine employee length of service (LOS), measured in years, in Macau's various industrial sectors and overall. This report draws from the 2015 wave of the Macau Human Resource Monitor (MHRM) annual survey conducted by ITRC (with the exception of a few comparison graphs, which includes 2014 findings). For definitions of the concepts used in this special focus report, as well as details of the methodology employed and a profile of the study's respondent characteristics, please visit here.

a. average Length of service

The average length of service (or tenure) of Macao employees is 3.25 years. In two survey waves conducted in 2015 and 2014, the average period for service was almost unchanged.  Figure 1 below shows the average for 2015 and 2014. After 3.25 years in an organization, the probability of any employee leaving begins to increase--the 3.25-year "itch."

B. promotion prospects and length of service

One factor influencing employee length of tenure is the opportunity to advance one's career or to assume higher organizational positions. In the 2015 MHRM wave, the survey queried respondents not only how many years they have been working in their organizations but also how many years they have been in their current position. See Figure 2. There is a close correspondence between these two statistics, Pearson correlation = .893 (p<.001).  If internal opportunities for advancement in one's current organization are good, one would expect a divergence in these two statistics. For example, years in current position would on average be lower despite than years worked in the current organization.

C. Length of service across different sectors

Sectors such as manufacturing, gaming, and construction tend to have above average employee tenure in Macao. In contrast, the real estate, MICE and food & beverage sectors ten to have very short periods of employee tenure. Employees working in the hotel, leisure, and entertainment sectors also have short periods of tenure, on average around 2 years.

D. Is income a key variable for employees to stay longer at organizations?

Income is a strong determinant for longer employee tenure but at what level is it influential? Based on the 2015 survey data, we find that employees with income levels below MOP30,000 per month generally exhibit shorter periods of service years. Above the MOP30,000 monthly income level, employee tenure at organizations tend to significantly lengthen and stabilize. See Figure 4 below.

Of course, higher levels of pay are correlated with higher level roles and responsibilities in any organization. Thus, it can also be expected that employees assuming higher than middle or supervisory level positions in their organizations can be expected to stay longer, on average around 9 years. See Figure 5 below.

E. employee personal characteristics and length of tenure

Age, gender and, marital status, and the presence of children are influential in determining in employees' length of service in an organization. In general, employees below the age threshold of 30 years tend to have shorter length of tenure at organizations, stabilizing only after reaching beyond age 30 years. (See Figure 6.) Male employees also tend to significantly stay longer at organizations, compared to female employees (for male, the average is 3.7 years, for females, 2.9 years). See Figure 7. This is intriguing as it suggests female employees to be more susceptible to other factors influencing their decision to stay in organizations for shorter duration. Figure 8 below shows that having children (regardless of whether an employee is married or single) influences an employees tenure to be longer than having no children. Among those with children, however, being married increases the likelihood of staying longer in an organization, presumably for stability purposes.

F. Organizational factors and their effect on employee length of tenure

Of 5 organizational factors examined (security with job, social environment, supervisory quality, recognition, and pay or compensation) for their effects on employee length of service, two factors, satisfaction with job security and satisfaction with pay or compensation**, proved critical in distinguishing between employees who stay longer at their organizations (i.e., on average > than 3.25 years) and employees who do not stay for long. Other factors such as the social environment, supervisory quality, or recognition, did not arise as significantly distinguishing between longer versus shorter staying employees.


While it is normal for employees to seek better opportunities and environments to work in, it is essential to identify the factors that stimulate or inhibit such behavior. The following are the key takeaways from the MHRM 2015 survey:

  1. On average, employees in Macau stay 3.25 years in their organizations. Beyond this threshold, employees are likely to start jumping ship.
  2. Some industrial sectors foster more stable (i.e., longer staying) employees, while other sectors, including the hotel, leisure, and entertainment sectors are burdened with shorter staying employees.
  3. Promotion prospects, income, and one's position in an organization's hierarchy are key factors associated with length of tenure. This point is crucial because if organizations in one sector altogether increase the prospects for promotion, income levels, and offer higher level roles, that sector could be expected to suffer from shorter employee tenure.
  4. The personal (or demographic) characteristics of employees are also key: Employees above 30 years, male, and married with children are the most likely to stay longer at organizations. Though professional stability is often sought by employees at the middle or late stages of their life cycle and to be expected, organizations should set in place multi-life-cycle strategies to inhibit shorter tenure (or job-shifting), particularly toward those in their early life-cycles.
  5. The two most important organizational factors fostering longer employee tenure are pay and security. Both are essential. Increasing pay without enhancing job security--or vice-versa--may be ineffective in encouraging employees to stay longer.


Employee's perception of career prospects

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How do Macao Employees perceive their career prospects in their organizations? Are these expectations realistic or too optimistic to be real?

Besides money, employees value greatly career prospects offered by their organizations, as it ensures a certain degree of job security and stability. More importantly, is how they perceive these prospects namely in terms of promotion. Thus, the current report examined employees expected promotion and how well it corresponds to the reality. Further analysis was conducted to examine the factors related to these expectations in regards to promotion and its implications for the individual and the organization. For definitions of the concepts used in this special focus report, as well as details of the methodology employed and a profile of the study's respondent characteristics, please visit here.


1.1    Expected promotion time

1.1.1    Overall Expected promotion time
On average, Macao employees expect to receive a promotion within 1.31 years of service. Most respondents (63.8%) believe that they would/should receive a promotion within a years’ time. Of which, 20.2% indicated that they should have been promoted long ago, as indicated in Figure 1. 

Similarly, when asked about the time that they think it would take their peers to receive a promotion, the results were identical (Figure 1).


1.1.2    Expected promotion time by tenure (job level)
A closer look at the predicted promotion times, employees at the lowest level of an organization predicted the highest number of years required for a promotion (1.36 years). As the organizational ladder moves up, the predicted promotion times decreases accordingly (Figure 2). To that extend, employees assuming higher organizational positions have higher expectations regarding their promotion. Nonetheless, the majority of employees expected to be promoted within a years’ time, of which, 40% of managers and 20% of employees at the supervisory or entry level believed that they should have been promoted (Figure 3). Except managers, supervisory and entry level employees, on average, predicted a shorter amount of promotion time for their peers than they would predict for themselves (Figure 4).

1.2(un)Realistic predictions

Despite of the apparent high expectations of promotion, the predicted times for promotion alone do not indicate the extent to which it is (un)realistic. Given that, an employee that stated they should have been promoted may appear to be unrealistic, yet if they have worked long enough in their current position, their prediction could be in fact, be realistic. Thus, to assert whether a predicted promotion time is unrealistic, the number of years served in a given position needs to be taken into account before comparing it to the average time required for a promotion. By adding the number of years served in a given position to the predicted promotion time, it would result in the total number of years that a person estimates to spend in a job position before the next promotion. Then this value is compared to the average time required for an employee to get promoted that is obtained by the difference of average years in company and average years in current job position of all respondents as indicated by the following formula: 

Positive values of the difference would indicate that the average promotion time (first part of the formula) is higher than the total estimated time spent on a given job position (second part of the formula), reflecting an optimistically biased promotion perception. That is, the employee expects to get promoted before what is normally required. On the other hand, negative values of the difference would indicate that the average promotion time is lower than the total estimated time spent on a given job position. In that sense, the employee expects to spend more time on a job position than what is normally required before the next promotion. 


1.2.1    Average Promotion time / rate
To obtain the average promotion time / rate, the average number of years in the current job position was subtracted from the average number of years in the current company. The result of the difference would indicate the average number of years that were spent on a job position before promotion. It is worth noting that first-time job holders were excluded, as well as those who did not work in the same company prior to their current job position. 


On average, the promotion rate of Macao employees is 3.95 years. Specifically, it would take on average, 10.22 for managerial / top level employees to get promoted, 4.41 years at the supervisory level and 2.96 years at the entry level (Figure 5). 


1.2.2    Estimated total number of years in a given job position
Macao employees predicted on average, that they would spend 4.2 years in their current job position before receiving their next promotion. The estimated total number of years in a given job position is fairly similar across different organizational levels (Figure 5).

1.2.3    Optimistic bias in promotion perception
As denoted earlier, the optimistic bias in promotion perception is not a measure that is readily available. To determine whether an employee’s promotion prediction is optimistically biased, his/her estimated total number of years in a given job position (section 1.2.2) needs to be compared to the average promotion rate (section 1.2.1). Overall, 47.1% of the respondents exhibited an optimistically biased promotion perception, whereas 52.9% were pessimistic. As shown in Figure 6 employees at the managerial level and entry level provided the most unrealistic predictions regarding their promotion. However, it is worth noting that 88.9% of the surveyed managers (Figure 7) were rather optimistically biased towards their promotion (predicted time was 4.64 years below the average promotion time). Employees holding supervisory job positions were the most accurate as the estimated total time in a given job prior to promotion was fairly similar to the average time for promotion. Yet, almost half of them were optimistically biased towards their promotion (56.8%). 

Regarding entry level employees, on average, they estimated that they would have to spend 1.16 years than what is needed on average prior to get promoted. Despite of the majority of entry level job holders exhibiting this pessimistic view regarding their promotion (49.4%), there are at least 30% that believes otherwise.    Optimistic Bias promotion perception across different sectors
Most of the individuals that exhibited an optimistic bias in their promotion perception are working in sectors such as retail, gaming, public administration and finance. Conversely sectors such as manufacturing, wholesale and MICE have the lowest percentage of optimistically biased employees Figure 8.

1.3    Factors related to Optimistic predictions


1.3.1    Organizational factors - Performance Appraisal & Feedback
Employees may rely on several cues within the organizational context to determine their chances of being promoted. Though not limited to, employees tend to predict their promotion based on how well they think they have performed within the organization. From the results shown in Figure 9, employees that are rarely evaluated and rarely receive feedback regarding their performance are the most optimistically biased in terms of their promotion. When the frequency at which appraisal is conducted does not correspond to the frequency at which feedback is provided (either frequently conducted appraisal and infrequent feedback, or infrequent appraisal and frequent feedback) employees seem to provide inaccurate predictions of their promotion as well. 


A two-way ANOVA was conducted to examine the effects of performance appraisal and appraisal feedback on.


1.3.2Individual factors – Perceptions of control
In addition to the frequency of performance appraisal and appraisal feedback, participants perceptions of control over the promotion is another factor that is found to be associated with optimistic bias in promotion perception r(507) = .19, p < .01. Employees who are
optimistically biased towards their promotion, also showed higher degree of perceptions of control (M=3.54, SD=0.71 vs M=3.28, SD=0.78).

Naturally, individuals who believe that they are in control of their future outcome, will also believe that they would achieve more desirable results.


1.4    Implications of being Optimistically biased


So what are the implications of being optimistically biased towards promotion perception? The results of the MHRM survey indicated that job satisfaction and general well-being bore no relationship to optimistic bias (Table 1). However, OB employees seem to have less intentions to stay within an organization and lower perceived C&B fairness than non OB employees. Finally, these individuals also perceive their performance to be higher than non OB employees. 


Table 1. Correlations between OB. and organizational variables.

1.5    Other aspects of promotion perception

In addition to the optimistic bias in promotion perception, the surveyed respondents were asked respondents what were the reasons that could possibly be attributed to when they get and fail to get a promotion respectively. In cases where they fail to get a promotion, the most common reason is attributed to external, uncontrollable factors (e.g. luck or favoritism, personal characteristics). Whereas when they receive a promotion, the vast majority indicated that it was due to exceptional and reliable performance (internally controllable factors).

1.6    Conclusion

The present study examined the promotion perception of Macao employees, and to what extend these expectations are (un)realistic. The factors that are associated with the unrealistic expectations and the possible implications were explored. 

  • Nearly half of the respondents exhibited an unrealistically optimistic promotion prediction time. Though, managers provided the most optimistic predictions. 
  • The frequency at which performance appraisal is conducted and feedback is given is related to optimistically biased promotion perception. To that extend, when there is a close correspondence of appraisal and feedback frequency, promotion expectations tend to be more realistic. 
  • Potentially, when promotion expectations are too optimistic, employees are less likely to stay in an organization, tend to perceive C&B as more unfair, and overestimate their work performance