A business is only as strong as its people and in Asia’s candidate-driven market, companies across the region need to prepare for several emerging employment trends. It means adapting recruitment strategies to attract top talent – and keep them on the payroll.

Perhaps the most critical employment trend is rising candidate confidence. Research undertaken as part of the Robert Half 2016 Salary Guide found quality professionals are moving on from their current positions if it means earning a higher salary, having better prospects for advancement or better non-salary benefits elsewhere.

This is just one of the shifts re-shaping the hiring environment this year. Here are four more employment trends hiring managers need to be aware of.

1. Growing demand for specialised skills

A complex business environment is fuelling demand for professionals with specific skills and expertise.

In previous years, Robert Half found business leaders typically point to a supply/demand imbalance as the chief factor making it difficult to find professional talent. This year is different.

In our conversations with business leaders, a shortage of candidates with specialised or niche skills was a clear employment trend for 2016. Demand is especially strong demand for professionals with technical skills in the areas of compliance, security and risk management. Reflecting the global marketplace, firms across Asia are also placing strong emphasis on a candidate’s ability to communicate across a variety of stakeholders.

This skills shortage looks set to intensify, and companies must prepare for this challenge by investing in the skill sets of their current team members. Investing in training programs is an additional cost burden though the payoff is a more productive workforce, improved retention rates, and less need to recruit from outside the business to fill skills gaps.

2. Candidates know their value

Across Asia’s tight labour markets, quality candidates typically have a clear idea of their market value. This employment trend is seeing the top professionals drive discussions on remuneration.

Without a doubt, remuneration is a key driver for candidates when it comes to selecting a role - and staying on the payroll. Businesses cannot afford to disregard current market benchmarks if they are paying competitive salaries and bonuses. This explains why the Robert Half 2016 Salary Guide is highly respected as a powerful recruitment tool, allowing companies to see, at a glance, appropriate salary levels.

3. The quest for work/life balance

In Asia, as in many parts of the developed world, the workplace is evolving and flexible work options are one of the more prevalent employment trends shaping the way companies operate.

Technology has made flexible work practices possible, and where a firm’s IT structure and nature of work allow it, providing options to telecommute or permitting flexible work hours can go a long way to attracting top talent and gaining their loyalty. This especially applies to younger candidates, who are the main drivers behind the need to balance career demands with life outside work.

4. Firms across Asia are expanding their headcount

Across Asia we see significant plans to recruit additional talent in 2016, with around one in two firms planning to grow their team.

This is creating a war for talent that is forcing companies to re-evaluate their recruitment strategies. As many as nine out of ten of Asia’s business leaders say it is challenging finding top talent, and the situation is likely to intensify amid a growing skills shortage.

Together, these employment trends will shape the hiring environment across Asia in the coming year and beyond. Firms that are flexible and fast-moving, and bring a compelling offer to the table are likely to be among the front-runners to land the candidates of choice.

Stay ahead of employment trends, download the Robert Half 2016 Salary Guide today.