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New five-day work week opens up 85 vacancies

Published on Friday, 15 Feb 2013
Michael Kadoorie
Photo: Edward Wong

In June this year, The Peninsula Hong Kong will begin to roll out a five-day work week for all staff, making it one of the first luxury hotels to do so in Hong Kong.

Rainy Chan, the hotel’s general manager, first began to explore the idea of a five-day work week when she was assigned to The Peninsula’s properties in Chicago and New York. She realised then that getting more time off was the most important element in achieving a good work-life balance.

Upon returning to Hong Kong, Chan encountered a young generation that no longer wanted to join the hospitality industry because of long working hours, unpredictable shifts and lack of work-life balance.

“We can never change the basic concept of this industry,” she says. “But I believe that we need to commit ourselves to making changes so that this industry can continue to attract the best people. As leaders of the oldest luxury hotel in Hong Kong, we asked ourselves: is it possible to have a good work-life balance in this industry? Our answer was yes.”

When Chan brought up the idea five years ago, the hotel’s owners and management were immediately supportive. “We were encouraged to work on different scenarios. It took us four years to plan this and a year to study the schedule,” she says.

But there were also sceptics. “Some said it wouldn’t work and that we were crazy. However the owners and top management have allowed us to hire additional people and we’re now very happy to finally see this dream come true.”

Chan believes that The Peninsula will set an example which the rest of Hong Kong’s luxury hotels will eventually follow. “It’s a good thing for the industry as a whole. The industry image has to improve.”

Hotel employees were understandably ecstatic when they heard about the new policy.

“I am grateful that I’ll have more time to spend with my family,” says security officer Rosemary Lam. “I almost couldn’t believe my ears when it was announced that the five-day work week would neither affect our salary, nor reduce our number of vacation days, as has been the case with other organisations that have adopted a shorter work week.”

To ensure the success of the new work scheme, and to support the reopening of renovated guest rooms, the hotel will hire about 85 new staff in the coming weeks. Afterwards, the hotel will have a total workforce of 919.

“We will have a walk-in recruitment day. We’ll be inviting everyone to come and apply for a job. If you want to have a good work-life balance while working in a world-renowned hotel, then come and see us,” Chan says.

Chan expects the initial implementation of the five-day work week, and the first couple of months of staff scheduling, to be extremely challenging. “We’re going as far as making a three-month mock-up schedule for the new staff. That’s how far we’re going to make sure they’ll be ready,” she says.  

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