Hong Kong-based companies must try and stand out from their local counterparts through what they offer to employees – going beyond just the salary they pay. Indeed, a greater focus is needed on developing a loyal breed of workers if organisations are keen to rein in the city’s worrying labour turnover, an expert has argued.

The call came after a survey by the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management (HKIHRM) found that average staff turnover for the first half of 2017 rose to 12.3 per cent. This is an increase of 1.8 per cent on the second half of 2016, according to data published earlier this month. The survey, conducted in July and August 2017, polled 80 companies covering 97,935 full-time employees.

To reverse this trend, employers need to look beyond pay, Stuart Elliott, the CEO and owner of recruitment company Elliott Scott HR said. “The more you can grow and develop your employees, the more you are likely to be able to retain them. This kind of development breeds loyalty and means that they work for more than just money,” he said.

He cited several factors in Hong Kong’s growing labour turnover. In recruitment terms, the city is currently seeing “a candidate-driven market” where jobseekers have many options to choose from. In the third quarter of 2017, HK unemployment was a mere 3.1 per cent. This is a change on the past 10 years, where the Hong Kong labour market has been similar to the global economy, with little growth in hiring following the financial crisis, Elliot said.

But things are changing now. “What we have seen in 2017 is a pick-up in business growth,” he said, adding: “This has led to a greater demand for talent, and candidates having multiple opportunities to choose from.”

Obviously, “this isn’t going to be easy” for firms, Elliot warned, citing the growing number of candidates who will “move regardless of what it means to their CV”. And these new workers have a millennial approach to their goals: employees are more concerned about the impact of their work on their life and overall personal experiences rather than having a stable, secure job, he said.

A study by Randstad Human Resources HR, released this July, also suggested that Hong Kong workers are unfazed about quitting jobs. Randstad’s employer brand research findings for 2017 said the number of employees planning to move jobs within the next six to 12 months has shot up dramatically since last year. In 2016, 28 per cent of employees were looking for a new job and in 2017, 39 per cent are on the lookout.

And on a positive note for Hong Kong workers keen to move jobs, hiring will remain stable in the second half of 2017, according to the HKIHRM survey. “Some 68.8 per cent of the surveyed employers said they would remain hiring at the same level as in the first half of 2017, followed by 12.5 per cent who would freeze hiring, and 5 per cent who would reduce it,” it noted.

Media Centre

If you’re a journalist or member of the press looking for more information or to speak to one of our experts, please contact our press team. 

Callout Image

Championing better work and working lives

About the CIPD

At the CIPD, we champion better work and working lives. We help organisations to thrive by focusing on their people, supporting economies and society for the future. We lead debate as the voice for everyone wanting a better world of work.