PwC: What Hong Kong’s workforce want from business leaders

If Hong Kong firms want to attract and retain top talent, they must offer flexibility and support in wellbeing, upskilling and personal growth, finds PwC

The world of work has changed, and so have the priorities, attitudes, concerns, and demands of workers.

Since the onset of the pandemic, and subsequent shift to hybrid working, people have re-evaluated their lives, re-prioritised, and reassessed how, when and where they want to work. And in a red-hot jobs market, as the tug-of-war for talent continues, giving them what they want, within reason, will ensure businesses attract and retain the best.

Hong Kong workers demand flexibility more than global counterparts

Among the demands workers worldwide are increasingly seeking is the opportunity to work remotely, or flexibly. And this is no different in Hong Kong. The majority (89%) of employees would prefer to work entirely or mostly remotely, one percentage point higher than the global average (88%), according to the PwC Hopes and Fears 2022 Survey, Hong Kong report, which reveals the feelings and perceptions of employees about work. Yet many employers are not matching expectations, with just 45% of Hong Kong workers offered hybrid working options, compared to 54% globally.

“The willingness to work remotely or in hybrid format is on an upward trajectory in Hong Kong,” says Michael Cheng, People & Organisation Advisory Digital Lead Partner of PwC Hong Kong.

He urges employers to uphold workplace flexibility and experiment with different modes of working. “Employers can continue to seek new ways of improving hybrid working experiences by providing employees with more digitalised tools and trainings and take a more holistic approach to addressing retention risk such as pay and career development for those who cannot work remotely or in a hybrid format.”

Hong Kong employers are certainly doing more on this than many countries. While Hong Kong shows slightly less of a skills shortage compared to other cities and countries globally, employers here are still doing more to address the issue, with increasing wages ranked as the most popular way to resolve skills shortages (57%, compared to 33% global average) followed by upskilling workers (48%, compared to 40% global average).

 Increased pay is another area in which Hong Kong employees are demanding, the report finds. Not surprising given the rising level of inflation and costs. Nine in 10 (90%) Hong Kong workers are expected to ask for promotions or salary increases over the next 12 months, compared to 73% globally.

The younger generations are significantly more likely to ask for a pay upgrade, though Hong Kong Gen Z and Millennial employees are less likely than their global counterparts, 38% compared to 41% globally.

Wellbeing, personal growth and upskilling

Flexibility, promotion, and pay aren’t the only workplace demands Hong Kong workers have. Hong Kongers recognise the need to digitally upskill, and while many employees are equipping themselves with advanced technological skillsets to keep pace with the constant development of new technology, increasingly they expect employers to facilitate this.

Yet just half of employees in Hong Kong say they have capacity to learn new technical or digital skills needed for their careers, with 45% finding no opportunity to work and learn from colleagues with digital skills and their companies do not provide relevant training opportunities.

Because the impacts of technological force are felt strongly by employees, Cheng urges business leaders “to utilise digital technologies to develop more integrated, flexible, and lower-cost tools, resources, and learning channels”.  

Investment in support for employee wellbeing and personal growth also rank high on the list of employee priorities.

And while companies in Hong Kong are increasing focusing on wellbeing, mental, and internal development, with 62% of employees optimistic about future career development and opportunities (compared to 52% global average), more can be done, says PwC.

Cheng points out that while Hong Kong and global companies currently focus on brand image and protecting customer data, they should also continue to invest in employee wellbeing and promote personal growth opportunities in the workplace.

This is especially a priority for employers given the battle for top talent both in Hong Kong and globally.

“Overall, employees are more likely to work for companies which emphasise wellbeing and diversity as priorities,” says Cheng. “As such, it will be imperative for organisations to develop a people-centric and ‘walk the talk’ culture on a daily basis.

“Employers are encouraged to be transparent about employees’ career opportunities within the organisation and create plans for personal development. They are also advised to promote broader transparency across valued topics including societal and environmental goals that are on course to become ever more important.”

PwC Hopes and Fears 2022 Survey, Hong Kong report

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