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Aon Best Employers Hong Kong 2016: Awards programme honours companies that draw exceptional dedication from their people

Published on Friday, 15 Jul 2016
Aon Hewitt’s Tzeitel Fernandes (left), Mary Yu and Fritz Yeung explain that Best Employers achieve higher revenue growth. (Photo: Laurence Leung)

Being a great employer is more about a continuous journey than a destination, but it’s still nice to have the occasional milestone that acknowledges the hard work put into creating a dedicated and satisfied workforce.

Today the Renaissance Hong Kong Harbour View Hotel in Wanchai will host the Aon Best Employers – Hong Kong 2016 awards, where eight companies will be honoured with the prestigious “Best Employer” title for their outstanding people practices.

In addition, three companies will receive recognition in the awards programme’s three sub-categories consisting of Best Employer for Commitment to Engagement, Best Employer for Generation Y and Best Employer for Women.

The announcement of these honours is the culmination of the latest Aon Best Employers study, which is the largest of its kind in Asia-Pacific and this year included over 630 organisations and 800,000 employees.

The study produced a number of results that add weight to the belief that implementing the best employment practices boosts commercial effectiveness and profitability.

Aon Hewitt’s research found that Best Employers achieve 19 per cent higher growth in revenue compared to the market average and a 30 per cent lower rate of attrition, while filling 21 per cent more openings internally.

Tzeitel Fernandes, managing director of Aon Hewitt Hong Kong, points out that this year’s study highlighted the need to harness a digital mindset.

“Best Employers provide a consumer-grade experience across the employee life cycle, have unified talent management platforms, and adopt an analytics lifestyle,” she says.

Since the programme’s inception, there have been a number of upheavals and disruptions in both the local and the global economy, such as the Sars outbreak and the 2008 financial crisis. However, according to Mary Yu, head of talent solutions at Aon Hewitt Hong Kong, the right way to do things has included several consistent factors.

“During this time, we have observed that Best Employers continue to be those that have effective leadership teams which make good business decisions during periods of uncertainty and value their employees as their most important assets,” she says.

Through their investigations, Yu and her teammates have discovered that there are four key pillars that establish an organisation as a Best Employer: a high level of employee engagement, a compelling employer brand, effective leadership and a high-performance culture.

In terms of employee engagement, Yu explains that there are three key behaviours.

“The first is ‘say’ – that is, whether employees are willing to speak positively about their organisation. The second is ‘stay’ – their desire to stay with the organisation. The third is ‘strive’ – whether employees are willing to make an extra effort and go above and beyond normal requirements to achieve business goals.”

A compelling employer brand, she continues, relies on the good reputation of the organisation in the market, alignment between the experience of working in the organisation and the “promise” made to employees, and the pride employees feel being part of the organisation.

To measure high-performing cultures, Aon Hewitt looked at the degree to which employees are aware of their goals and how they contribute to the organisation’s overall performance. It also determined whether employees share in the overall success of the organisation and have career-development and learning opportunities available.

Fernandes points out that one factor driving all four pillars is the capacity to “actualise culture”. “Best Employers actualise their culture by linking their employer brand promises to their core values,” she explains. “This year’s study shows that more organisations are beginning to focus on this.”

Fritz Yeung, the Hong Kong project manager of the Best Employers programme, says that Best Employers have significantly more “engaged leaders” than other organisations. “These leaders are also typically ‘engaging leaders’, so it is no surprise that staff at Best Employers are 20 per cent more positive than the market average,” he points out.

However, the research has shown that Best Employers do not always have very different talent management practices to other organisations.

“Whatever they are committed to doing, they execute extremely effectively,” Yeung says. “We observe that Best Employers deliver and implement people programmes more effectively through their people managers, who have a direct impact on the success of the initiatives.”

The Aon Hewitt study also records the biggest challenges for Hong Kong organisations and the most significant issues that affect an organisation’s ability to succeed.

According to Fernandes, the study found that 69 per cent of CEOs identified market factors as their biggest challenge, while 46 per cent singled out people issues.

“Looking at the key people risks, 62 per cent of CEOs identified a critical skills shortage while 62 per cent also picked out the poor availability and selection of talent in the external labour market,” she explains. “After that, 54 per cent named an inadequate leadership pipeline.”

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