Hong Kong firms making progress in boosting work-life balance

Issue cited as top reason why employees are switching employers

Hong Kong firms making progress in boosting work-life balance

Organisations across Hong Kong are making strides in improving their employees' work-life balance, according to a new report, as it emerges as the top factor behind staff departure in the financial hub.

Randstad's 2023 Employer Brand Research report revealed that the gap between what employees expect and what employers can offer in terms of work-life balance has narrowed, closing from an eight-point to a five-point gap this year.

"Companies have taken steps to support their employees' work-life balance over the past year," the report said. "Employees are beginning to have a healthier work-life balance as a result of improved communications, better workload management and wellness initiatives."

It is "encouraging to witness," according to Benjamin Elms, managing director at Randstad Hong Kong.

"These efforts also inspire us to continue working closely with our clients to further enhance their attractiveness as employers and maximise their talent acquisition potential," Elms said in a media release published on AsiaOne.

Work-life balance fuelling resignations

The findings come as work-life balance is on top of the list of reasons why employees want to resign, according to the report, which surveyed 2,750 Hong Kong-based respondents.

Thirty-one per cent of the respondents said they plan to switch jobs this year, with Millennials leading the count at 40%. The 10 most-cited reasons for their plans include:

  • To improve work-life balance (42%)
  • Low compensation and rising cost of living (28%)
  • Lack of career growth opportunities (28%)
  • Received an offer they cannot refuse (24%)
  • Lack of interest in the job (23%)
  • Employer is not financially stable (21%)
  • Employer shows poor leadership (20%)
  • Poor relationship with the manager (18%)
  • Long commuting time (18%)
  • Lack of work flexibility (17%)

These reasons reflect the "new dimensions to work priorities and expectations" following changes to the economy and labour markets, according to Elms.

"These efforts also inspire us to continue working closely with our clients to further enhance their attractiveness as employers and maximise their talent acquisition potential," he said.

What do employees want?

In their search for their next employers, 69% of the respondents said non-monetary benefits will be crucial considerations. These benefits include:

  • Good relationship with colleagues (87%)
  • Good relationship with managers (87%)
  • Convenient location (85%)
  • Flexible work arrangement (85%)
  • More autonomy to perform my role (84%)

The findings show that while high salary is important in attracting talent, so is creating an environment that fosters meaningful relationships. 

"In the new social contract between employers and employees, employers must go beyond wages and provide more comprehensive and holistic support to their employees," Elms said.

Desire for flexibility

The strong desire for flexibility, a key aspect in achieving work-life balance, also comes as many employers begin inviting back their staff to workplaces. In Hong Kong, only 36% of the respondents said they can work remotely either partially or fully.

Employers are warned that eliminating flexible work arrangements could give them an image that is "rigid and unconcerned about employee wellbeing," according to Elms.

"Companies should calibrate flexible work arrangements proactively and update their HR policies to align with the evolving work environment to meet top talent attraction expectations," Elms said.

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