Uncertainty sees workers calling for security
It is frequently said that for just a few extra dollars, most Hong Kong employees will happily hop from one job to the next. At certain professional levels, however, this concept of chasing the mighty dollar at all costs could be changing.
In Randstad’s recent Employer Branding survey, long-term job security topped a list of factors Hong Kong employees take into account when deciding to work for a company, with 65 per cent respondents including it in the five most important aspects they take into consideration.
Job security narrowly pipped salary (63 per cent) to the number-one spot, followed by a pleasant working environment (53 per cent), a good work-life balance (45 per cent) and career-progression opportunities (44 per cent).
The survey, which globally collects the views of more than 160,000 respondents in 18 countries, covered 4,000 Hong Kong respondents from 75 of the city’s largest employers.
The survey also revealed that Hong Kong was the only surveyed location in Asia where employees put long-term job security ahead of salary.
“While higher salary is a strong motivator for changing jobs, at a certain professional level – which usually involves a high level of responsibility – there tends to be greater commitment to long-term job security,” says Brien Keegan, director of Randstad in Hong Kong.
“Our survey has revealed some unique characteristics about the Hong Kong talent market that will potentially have a far-reaching impact on how employers build their brand to hire and retain talented individuals in the future.”
He says there are several reasons why Hong Kong employees are favouring job security ahead of other factors. “In the banking and finance industry, for example, professionals look for job security because there are still lingering uncertainties,” he says.
Employer hiring preferences also seem to be contributing to the concept of a long-term career outlook. “Even if employees are interested in changing jobs, we are seeing signs of reluctance among employers to take on people who are viewed as job-hoppers,” Keegan says, adding that this is particularly prevalent in banking and finance, luxury retail, fast-moving consumer goods, and manufacturing.
With long-term job security becoming the number-one concern for high-level employees, employers also have the opportunity to develop fresh retention and development opportunities. “With Hong Kong facing a predicted shortfall of 20,000 professional employees by 2018, savvy employers will see long-term job security as an opportunity to develop in-house talent,” Keegan says.
However, he cautions, a-one-size-fits-all approach to talent development is unlikely to be successful. “Building a sustainable workforce with home-grown talent requires comprehensive HR planning and communication across all divisions and channels,” he says, adding that it is imperative that management is fully committed and shows its support for career development.
Time and resources also need to be made available to ensure individual career goals and aspirations are met. Furthermore, employers need to work with career-focused employees to identify development targets and deliver on promotion timelines. “Companies need to identify early on the additional skills their employees need to grow their businesses and achieve their own personal goals,” Keegan says.
He also suggests employers could benefit from revising their recruitment criteria. “Too often employers are looking for round pegs who perfectly fit into round holes,” he says. “In many situations, employers would be better off looking at drive, motivation and how a candidate can grow into a role instead of how they tick a particular set of boxes.”