For the first time in 10 years of research excellence in Hong Kong SAR, “work-life balance” is voted the most important employee value proposition (EVP) local respondents look for in an ideal employer. “Attractive salary and benefits” dipped 2% from 2021 to 60.2%, while ‘work-life balance’ is important to 60.4% of respondents.

Commissioned by Randstad and independently conducted by Kantar TNS, the Randstad Employer Brand Research explores the top EVP factors that influence employees and job seekers in their search for a new career.

top 5 employee value propositions in 2022

Commenting on the survey results, Regional Director at Randstad Hong Kong, Benjamin Elms said, “After two years of COVID, Hongkongers are starting to feel the ‘lock-in’ syndrome, in which they go through the motions without anything like a vacation or meaningful break to look forward to. Many have devoted their free time to work to fill the void, and some employers may erroneously mistake their overworking with productivity and pile more work on them as they sit at their desk all day. This not only results in increased stress levels, but it negatively affects their physical health.”

“Organisations that prioritise their employees’ well-being are very attractive to job seekers who are looking for an escape from burnout or have a strong motivation to have a better work-life balance.”

top 5 employee value propositions in 2022

Work-life balance 60%
Attractive salary and benefits 60%
Financially healthy 49%
Job security 48%
Pleasant work atmosphere 44%

women in hong kong have higher expectations from their employers than men

In the survey, 65% of women voted “work-life balance” as the top employee value proposition factor they look for in an ideal employer. However, only 55% of men shared the same sentiment.

Elms said, “Gender inequality is the key reason why female workers have higher expectations from their employers. With unresolved issues such as maternity penalty, gender pay gap and glass ceilings, women professionals seek support from their employers to create an environment that is safe and inclusive for them to work in so that they can get equal access to career growth opportunities. Companies that offer flexible work arrangements and childcare benefits as well as job sharing and contract work would appeal to female workers, who comprise an untapped talent pool.”

85% of hongkongers have taken actions on their own to attain better work-life balance

With “work-life balance” being the most important benefit to respondents in Hong Kong SAR, it should come with no surprise that at least eight in 10 have taken actions to improve their own situation.

1 in 3 respondents (32%) said that they worked fewer overtime hours and 29% decided to work flexible hours.

Elms shared, “Time is very important to employees, especially Gen-Zers and Millennials. These younger generations of workers don’t want to live in the shadow of their work. They want to have enough time to do the activities that they enjoy, such as exercising, going on a date or having a meal with their friends to keep their minds off work. Companies that want to appeal to fresh talent should make sure to hire more people to share the workload rather than expect their employees to work overtime regularly.”

only 32% of hong kong employees worked remotely in 2022, half from the previous year

In January 2021, 62% of respondents worked either fully or partially from home. In 2022, the number dropped to 32%. 41% of respondents said that they work only on the employer’s premise, an increase of 21% from the previous year.

Of those who were working remotely, 80% said that they expect to work in a hybrid model after the pandemic, where they will be working between home and on-site.

“Most Hongkongers live in small apartments that don’t have enough space for a proper desk set-up or are conducive for them to focus when working from home. However, that doesn’t mean that they want to be in the office all the time either. Most employees would still prefer the option to work remotely from a cafe or restaurant near their homes for a breath of fresh air, to avoid peak hour crowds, or just to be away from the hustle and bustle in the office or at home. When employees work remotely, they get to observe how other people live their lives and connect with people whom they usually don’t have the opportunity to when they are in an office environment,” Elms on how and why employers and employees should have a different take on remote work in Hong Kong SAR. 

“Exposing employees to different environments helps them gain different perspectives to think critically and creatively, which will change the way they approach work in a more positive and meaningful way. Most importantly, giving employees the autonomy to decide when and where they want to work helps improve their time management skills and builds their loyalty to employers. Hence, business leaders should be more flexible to accommodate what works for their employees.” Elms added.

41% of local respondents said that fair compensation improves work-life balance

Despite our earlier analysis about flexible working, the top benefit that would help Hongkongers maintain a good work-life balance is fair compensation (41%). This is followed by healthcare benefits at 37%.

“While this data may stand out from our earlier analysis about the importance of flexible work, it goes to show that Hongkongers want to have a positive and more holistic employee experience with the companies they work at.”

fair compensation improves work-life balance
fair compensation improves work-life balance

Elms shared his observations, “Salary is always going to be at the back of our minds. As a hygiene factor, higher salaries may not necessarily drive higher motivation. However, salaries that are perceived to be lower than the market average will definitely result in greater job dissatisfaction. Nobody likes to know that they are being paid less or feel that their salaries do not reflect their evolving work responsibilities. When workers feel like they are underpaid, they will start to develop negative thoughts and feelings towards their employers, which would encourage them to seek another company that offers greater pay transparency.”

“Healthcare benefits are also gaining popularity amongst the workforce in Hong Kong SAR, mainly attributed to COVID-19 and the rising cost of healthcare. Many people are seeking preventive care as well as cost sharing with their employers to help alleviate their stress and to attain better overall physical and mental health. When reviewing their employment options, job seekers will pay more attention to paid sick days, outpatient allowances, and the coverage of corporate healthcare insurance to cover chronic illnesses and mental healthcare,” said Elms.

“If companies or businesses want to stay attractive to job seekers and employees, they should pay attention not only to their workers’ base salaries and benefits, but their physical and mental wellbeing. This is important to ensure that they’re actively working to support their workers both at work and outside of work.”

58% of employees in hong kong placed importance on their personal career growth and progression

Nearly 3 in 5 respondents (58%) said that they place considerable importance on their personal career growth and progression. This is 18% lower than the Asia Pacific average (78%).

The importance of having adequate learning and development opportunities also diminishes when an employee gets older. More than three in four (78%) respondents aged between 18 and 34 years old said that it is important that their employers offer them upskilling and re-skilling opportunities, whereas only 29% of respondents aged 55 years old and above shared the same sentiments.

Although professional development may not be top of mind for 42% of Hongkongers, Elms urges companies to prioritise it. “If the workforce does not continue to upskill, companies could find themselves managing a workforce that may not have the adequate skills to do the job that is expected of them. In the long run, the widening skills gap will create troubling challenges to the city’s ability to attract global businesses and talent, as well as drive workforce productivity.”

According to Elms, “Hongkongers want to work for attractive companies and a reliable employer that can offer what they want. Without factors like career growth and progression, employees will feel stagnant and dissatisfied about their jobs. Employers should aim to boost their employees’ fulfillment at work to retain their best talent, especially in today's candidate-short market.”

2022 hong kong employer brand research
2022 hong kong employer brand research

the 2022 randstad hong kong employer brand research report is now available! download your free copy!

The 2022 Randstad Employer Brand Research provides employers with a unique opportunity to uncover new insights and validate their assumptions of employees and job seekers. This independent research is the most representative employer brand study in the world, reaching out to more than 163,000 respondents across 31 markets, including 3,027 who are based in Hong Kong SAR in January.

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