Birches Group has been monitoring the volatile economic conditions in Sri Lanka and wants to provide updates on the current labor market conditions happening in the South Asian nation.
The past few months have not been easy for Sri Lanka, and the condition has only worsened. The country has been facing economic, political, and social crises due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, rising foreign debt, and a depreciating rupee. According to a news report from BBC, the country’s inflation rate is now at 54.6% as of June 2022. Our August 1 Market Monitor shows that the exchange rate movement against the US dollar, Euro, British pound, and West African CFA franc in the past six months is at 79%. Moreover, after protests forced President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee to the Maldives and Singapore, Sri Lanka is in a state of emergency.
Losing skilled talent
These are challenging times for employers and staff in the South Asian island nation. It has been noted that there is an increasing number of skilled and educated Sri Lankans—from IT experts to hospitality and marketing professionals—who want to work overseas, where they can maximize the rupee’s devaluation and survive hyperinflation. According to Manusha Nanayakkara, the minister of labor and foreign employment, almost 168,000 Sri Lankans have registered to work abroad. Many intend to work in the Middle East, particularly in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). An independent survey conducted in November 2021 by the country’s Institute for Health Policy reveals that 1 in 4 Sri Lankans wanted to emigrate if they had the opportunity. This ratio has increased to 1 in 3 in July 2022.
Compensation in Sri Lanka and the Middle East
Our July 2022 multi-sector survey indicates that compensation ranges in Middle Eastern labor markets are significantly higher than in Sri Lanka. Our survey results show that the average annual salary ranges for support staff at Birches Group Level 6 in Sri Lanka receive a minimum of US$ 5,810 and a maximum of US$9,896, while a senior professional at Birches Group Level 10 receives a minimum of US$ 14,246 and a maximum of US$ 23,517. In Kuwait, support staff at Birches Group Level 6 would be paid approximately seven times more, between U$ 48,054 and US$ 76,418, while a senior professional at Birches Group Level 10 would receive between US$ 108,420 and US$ 153,708. As the chart above indicates, the figures are even higher in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.
Next steps for employers
Birches Group’s Market Monitor categorizes labor market conditions according to levels of volatility, with Level One as the lowest (reporting standard market conditions and market movement between 0–20%) and Level Six as the highest (where the country has reported labor market collapse, departure of most comparators from the market, and absence of reliable data on currency and inflation). In our most recent Market Monitor, Sri Lanka is now at Level Four, where labor market conditions reflect sudden, unexpected social or economic events, currency devaluation of 50% or more in six months or less, and there is disjointed and unclear comparator response. When the labor market becomes volatile, such as what we are seeing in Sri Lanka, organizations should place policies and procedures to keep pay programs functioning and to maintain business continuity.
To avoid losing skilled employees leading to brain drain, organizations in Sri Lanka must address the situation by establishing a Special Measures Policy. Through the Special Measures policy, employers can define the appropriate triggers within labor market conditions that warrant a change or update in salaries and benefits. These triggers, in turn, outline what organizations will do to help cushion the impact of hyperinflation on their people.
How can we help
We at Birches Group have extensive expertise in developing Special Measures Policies for organizations across different markets and sectors. Contact us today to find out how we can create one for you.
- 1 August Market Monitor Report