August 16, 2023

Managing the Impact of Inflation on Salaries in APAC: A Deep Dive into Singapore and Indonesia

Cheryl Goh, Product Marketing Manager

Managing the Impact of Inflation on Salaries in APAC: A Deep Dive into Singapore and Indonesia


Inflation is no stranger to the economies of the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. Like a wave, its effects ripple through the lives of both employers and employees, impacting everything from the cost of living to salary expectations. For employers, understanding inflation's impact is key in crafting a competitive, fair compensation strategy. This is especially true for regions with diverse economies such as Singapore and Indonesia.

The Impact of Inflation on Salaries in Singapore

Singapore, colloquially known as the "Lion City," has seen a steady rise in inflation rates in recent years. In May 2023, the annual inflation rate slowed to 5.1% from 5.7% in the previous month. This decrease was attributed to price drops for goods like food, housing & utilities, transport, clothing & footwear, and household durables & services. But, on the other hand, higher inflation was observed in healthcare and miscellaneous goods & services.

This rise in inflation led to a tricky scenario for the workforce in Singapore. Despite seeing a nominal salary increase of 3.8% in 2022, inflation set salaries back by 1.7% in real terms. However, a return to a real increase in salaries, forecasted at 1.0%, is expected in 2023.

ECA International, a leading provider of global mobility solutions, highlighted in its Salary Trends report that despite higher salary growth in 2022, a surge in inflation led to a reduction in disposable income for many Singaporean workers.

Yet, all hope is not lost. The Singaporean government has rolled out several proactive support measures to shield its citizens from inflation's impact. And, with the Lion City ranking as the most expensive city to live in, such measures are certainly critical.

Understanding these trends is essential for designing a fair compensation strategy. To stay competitive in the Singaporean job market, consider reading this comprehensive guide to compensation in Singapore.

Addressing Inflation in Indonesia

Turning our gaze to Indonesia, a different picture of inflation and salaries unfolds. Indonesia's annual inflation rate eased to 4% in May 2023, thanks to decisive action from Bank Indonesia.

Indonesia's average salary increase is also expected to rise to 6.1% in 2023, surpassing the Asia Pacific's average of 4.8%. Astrid Suryapranata, market leader for Indonesia, mentioned that "salary increments are gradually returning to pre-pandemic norms as more organizations bounce back from the pandemic.

However, the country is still trying to reach the pre-pandemic norm of 6.9% salary increments recorded in 2019.

Implementing a Proactive Approach to Inflation: The Power of Compensation Benchmarking

To tackle inflation's impact on salaries effectively, employers must resort to compensation benchmarking. This practice ensures that your compensation packages remain competitive amidst changing inflation rates.

In a rapidly evolving job market, the importance of compensation benchmarking cannot be overstated. It's more than just offering attractive salaries; it's about guaranteeing your employees' purchasing power and quality of life.

Tools like Compensly can help transform your compensation strategy by providing real-time market data, empowering you to make data-driven decisions that align with your specific market trends.

Strategic Measures for Employers

Employers in the APAC region, specifically in Singapore and Indonesia, must adopt strategic measures to navigate the impact of inflation on salaries:

  1. Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA): Adjusting salaries based on the cost of living can help offset inflation's effects, especially in high-cost living countries like Singapore.
  2. Performance-Based Pay : Linking pay to performance can motivate employees and enhance productivity, particularly effective in competitive markets like Indonesia.
  3. Flexible Benefits : An effective way to enrich the overall compensation package and attract and retain employees.
  4. Regular Compensation Review : Helps to keep pace with inflation and market changes.
  5. Employee Education : Educating employees about inflation's impact and the organization's management approach can help maintain morale and engagement.

By staying informed about market trends and adopting such proactive strategies, businesses in the APAC region can effectively manage inflation's impact on salaries.


Inflation is a multifaceted issue affecting economies at different magnitudes. Employers in the APAC region, particularly Singapore and Indonesia, must stay abreast of the changing economic landscape to devise effective strategies for managing salaries. As we continue to navigate the post-pandemic world, it's more critical than ever to ensure that compensation packages remain competitive and reflect the reality of living and working in the respective countries. Regular compensation reviews, cost of living adjustments, performance-based pay, flexible benefits, and employee education are some strategic measures that can help in managing inflation's impact on salaries.