The threat of not being able to attract the right talent or worse, losing them to a competitor is a major concern for employers. As the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate between February and April in Hong Kong falls to 2.8 per cent, a 20-year record low, employers need a strong employer brand to ensure that they are attracting and retaining the right people in a talent-short market.

Randstad - one of the world’s largest recruitment agencies - today released the findings of the annual Employer Brand Research in Hong Kong. Commissioned by Randstad and conducted independently, the global study is the most representative employer brand research that measures the perception of the country’s largest commercial employers (by workforce size) and unlocks drivers of employee motivation.

Expectations for a better work-life balance have reached new heights for employees. According to the research, 59 per cent of Hongkongers said that ‘work-life balance’ is a must-have criteria for their ideal employer. It followed closely after ‘salary and benefits’, the number one consideration for job seekers and employees when they are seeking an ideal employer (60 per cent).

Natellie Sun, Managing Director at Randstad Hong Kong said, “Our research has confirmed the rising importance of enabling better work-life balance for employees and promoting these initiatives and policies to attract talent. With Hongkongers placing near equal value on ‘work-life balance’ as they do on ‘attractive salary and benefits’, it is critical that companies offer progressive work-life balance policies that strongly resonate with employees. Employers that understand how they can support their employees to achieve a better quality of life in a holistic manner will become more attractive companies to work for, with leading companies already offering flexi-work arrangements, family-friendly leave policies, childcare services and gym memberships, just to name a few examples.”

what are hongkongers looking for in an ideal employer?

employees still want better salary & benefits.

Employees’ expectations on ‘salary and benefits’ have increased by six per cent this year (to 60 per cent in 2018). This could be attributed to the positive market outlook, supported by robust trade activity from the global recovery and buoyant domestic demand.  

Hongkongers are also more likely to prioritise ‘salary and benefits’ over other attractiveness factors due to the high cost of living. According to World Atlas, Hong Kong is ranked as the second expensive housing market in the world, which could explain why having high earning potential is both important and appealing to young professionals.

In addition to ‘salary and benefits’, employers need to recognise that employees’ expectations around ‘work-life balance’ have increased steadily since 2016 to 59 per cent this year. This is just one per cent short of the expectations around ‘salary and benefits’, indicating that job seekers are looking for more than just financial remunerations when choosing a potential employer.

women find salary & benefits and work-life balance more important than men.

Across all ages, women in Hong Kong are seen to have higher expectations of their ideal employer when compared to men. Women are more likely to be attracted to employers who can offer better ‘salary and benefits’ and ‘work-life balance’ initiatives.

This upward trend may strongly indicate that women are stepping up in the workforce, demanding more from their employers and taking up more challenging roles to further narrow the gender gap in the workplace.

5 most important factors an organization should have

how to retain your talent?

money doesn’t make the world go round.

Even though ‘salary and benefits’ remains the number one criteria that Hongkongers look for in an ideal employer, it is not the definitive reason for choosing to stay with their current employer. Out of the 35 per cent of respondents who said that they plan to leave their current employers, 41 per cent cited ‘limited career path’ as the key reason for leaving, followed by ‘work-life balance issues’ (35 per cent).

top five reasons why employees leave:

  1. Limited career path (41 per cent)
  2. Work-life balance issues (35 per cent)
  3. Insufficient compensation (34 per cent)
  4. Insufficient challenges (33 per cent)
  5. Lack of recognition or award (28 per cent)

Uncertainty in career progression is influenced by several factors such as the lack of recognition, having insufficient challenges at the job and misalignment on career expectations. Our findings suggest that employers should look beyond providing a short-term fix and consider the respective employee value proposition drivers for the different demographics if they wish to retain their employees.

employees are taking proactive steps to stay competitive.

The research further suggests that Hongkongers understand that they need to stay competitive as companies continue to undergo digital transformation and business restructuring. ‘Being open and flexible to change’ is one of the proactive steps that Hongkongers take in order to stay employable (41 per cent), which may include embracing new technology and adapting to changes in their job scopes. This is followed by upskilling (37 per cent) and ‘working flexible hours’ (37 per cent).

how hongkongers stay employable.

  1. Being open and flexible to change (41 per cent)
  2. Keep my skills up-to-date through training and courses (37 per cent)
  3. Working flexible hours (37 per cent)
  4. Being sociable with colleagues, managers and professional network (29 per cent)
  5. Willing to switch career (27 per cent)

Technology in the workplace can impact both men and women differently, with the research revealing how much both genders are willing to adapt. The male population has shown a stronger desire to upskill (men - 40 per cent; women - 35 per cent) and adopt the latest techniques and technologies (men - 30 per cent; women - 21 per cent).

the energy sector ranked as most attractive sector.

Companies within the Energy sector performed the best out of 14 sectors in Hong Kong. The average attractiveness score of this sector increased by five per cent to 59 per cent this year. This is well above the country’s average of 37 per cent. Companies included in this sector are CLP Power Hong Kong, Towngas and HK Electric.

While Transportation is the second most popular and attractive sector to Hongkongers, the attractiveness score has decreased by six per cent to 45 per cent this year. The research also highlighted that the average attractiveness score of the Transportation sector has decreased from 2015 (63 per cent), indicating that employers within this industry need to step up in their employer branding efforts to reinstate the sector’s attractiveness and ensure that they can still continue to attract and retain good talent.

The Employer Brand Research captured the views of 4,295 Hongkongers between the ages of 18 and 65. It provides insights into employees' and job seekers' career motivations to inform employers of their talent attraction and retention strategies. The Employer Brand Research is completed by Kantar TNS, a global insights and consultancy agency. The surveys were conducted online between November and December 2017 with controlled samples to ensure a nationally representative survey sample of the online population in each country (age and gender).


about randstad.

Randstad is a global leader in the HR services industry and specialised in solutions in the field of flexible work and human resources services. We have a strong presence across Asia-Pacific and offices in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong SAR, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. We support people and organisations in realising their true potential, helping find the best permanent and contracting talent in accounting & finance, banking & financial services, construction, property & engineering, corporate & secretarial support, human resources, information technology, legal, life science, sales, marketing & communications, retail and supply chain & procurement.

Human connection is at the heart of our business. Our personal approach, supported by state-of-the-art technology, is what sets us apart in the world of work. We express this with a new brand promise: Human Forward.

Hear what our leaders have to say about #HumanForward or head over to our new website and learn more about our Human Forward brand promise.

Randstad N.V. is listed on the NYSE Euronext Amsterdam, where options for stocks in Randstad are also traded. For more information, see https://www.randstad.com.