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Aon Best Employers Hong Kong 2016: Judges zoom in on consistency and positivity

Published on Friday, 15 Jul 2016
Best Employers - Hong Kong 2016 judges (from left) Tom Eves, Elizabeth George, Theresa Lai, Andrew Wan and Eric Yee had some tough choices to make. (Photo: Sky Lip)

During a day-long judging session that involved poring over reams of anonymous research, the five judges for this year’s Aon Hewitt Best Employers – Hong Kong 2016 awards discovered a number of critical factors that separated the best from the rest.

While the session – which took place at the Asia headquarters of Manchester United, a partner of Aon Hewitt – saw strong debate, everyone agreed that the final results reflected the efforts of outstanding candidates.

“Very positive responses from their employees characterised the best employers,” says Professor Elizabeth George, director of the Centre for Business Education at HKUST Business School. “When employees agree that their experiences at work are positive, the organisation must be doing something right.”

Theresa Lai, general manager of HR at Modern Terminals, explains that consistency in the messages that organisations were giving out was key.

“Employees, HR managers and CEOs must think alike regarding what is important in the company culture,” Lai says. “People-management actions are designed around this, and top management invests time to ensure a consistent message gets across to the whole organisation.”

Andrew Wan, CFO and senior director, corporate affairs, at the Securities and Futures Commission, says that the highest-scoring organisations made employees feel that their roles in the company are important and meaningful.

“Best Employers create a compelling picture of the future and engage employees in that future. The employees unify around such goals and demonstrate a commitment to excellence – that is, to producing quality products and delivering the highest standard of service.”

Eric Yee, head of North Asia, talent solutions, at LinkedIn, says the judges took a calculated approach when deliberating the winners.

“The employers who participated had unique, clever methods of implementing meaningful talent management,” he says. “We came to our decisions by evaluating companies against their peers via qualitative and quantitative data analysis.”

Tom Eves, editor of Classified Post, says one of the challenges in assessing the data was deciding on what constituted stand-out performance within an industry.

“For example, the hospitality industry is, on average, one of the most ‘engaged’ industries, so a balance had to be found between companies with good engagement scores in that sector and, say, a company in transportation, for which lower engagement scores are reported across the board.”

Suggesting developments they’d like to see in employers’ people management practices, the judges came up with a range of ideas. Wan says employers can address the fact that many Hongkongers work more than 51 hours per week.

“Going forward, I would hope that employers in Hong Kong would implement initiatives and policies to help employees achieve a better work-life balance,” he says.

George added that she would like to see “practices that recognise the fact that all employees are not the same and that individuals respond to jobs and incentives in different ways.”

For Yee, he’d like to see companies improve the staying power of entry-level hires, while Lai says employers should note continuing staff demands.

“How they are engaged requires employers to be innovative in their approach,” Lai explains. “I also think each leader has to see employee engagement as one of the most important things to spend time on.”


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