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Aon Hewitt Best Employers – Hong Kong 2015 Awards winners show commitment to engagement

Published on Tuesday, 10 Feb 2015
Sushant Upadhyay, MD of Aon Hewitt Consulting Hong Kong and Taiwan, says he has seen big improvements in HR systems and processes across the region.
Photo: Gary Mak

A dedication to implementing and following-up HR initiatives separates the best from the rest

Since 2001, global human resources outsourcing and consulting firm Aon Hewitt has been studying and celebrating the way Hong Kong's organisations work with their employees to achieve success.

Today, the standout companies in the Aon Hewitt Best Employers - Hong Kong 2015 awards will be conferred at an awards ceremony and learning conference at the Hong Kong Football Club in Happy Valley.

The awardees were selected by a panel of judges based on data gathered by the Aon Hewitt Best Employers study process.

Sushant Upadhyay, managing director of Aon Hewitt Consulting Hong Kong and Taiwan, says the data highlighted the areas in which organisations have made the most progress, and those in which there is still work to be done.

"We have seen significant improvements in a lot of organisations across the region, both in hygiene factors, such as their HR systems and processes, as well as in things like performance management, which covers, among other factors, how well goals are decided and cascaded," Upadhyay says. "[However], even the best organisations have struggled to improve significantly in areas such as career opportunities - the ability to give their employees sight of their future career opportunities.

"Two other areas that have plenty of scope for improvement - and that we are seeing a lot of focus on - are meeting the promises that you make to your colleagues and responding to feedback with appropriate action."

Upadhyay says there are three components an organisation needs to become a 'Best Employer': systems, skills and spirit. "'Systems' are the policies and frameworks you have in place. 'Skills' covers the training your managers and leaders have had to be able to bring these systems to life for their colleagues. 'Spirit' is the attitude that managers and leaders have towards this process."

Fritz Yeung, Best Employers Hong Kong 2015 project manager for Aon Hewitt, says data was collected from the participants based on three primary sources. "The employee opinion survey gives us the employees' view of their employers. The second source is the people practice index, which is completed by the HR practitioners within the organisation. Third is the CEO questionnaire, which gives us the business perspective."

Yeung says the judges were looking for employers that consistently had a high level of employee engagement, a compelling employer brand, a high-performance culture and which displayed effective leadership.

Kelvin Lam, practice leader of performance and talent at Aon Hewitt Consulting Hong Kong and Taiwan, says there are three points that separate the best from the rest. First is that the leadership team themselves have to be engaged. Second is the execution of the HR programmes and initiatives that have an impact on the employees.

"We noticed that there is little difference between the HR programmes and initiatives of the best organisations and the others," he says. "What separates them are the details of the execution, the effectiveness of the execution and the follow through on those HR initiatives."

The last point is what is called "trust in action". "This is the commitment from the organisation to follow through on the promises or commitments they made to the employees," Lam says. "We noticed that the trust in action with the Best Employers tends to be much higher than with the rest."

And getting this sort of strategy and execution right pays dividends on the bottom line, and in terms of staff retention and performance.

According to Aon Hewitt's figures, compared to the market average, the Best Employers in Hong Kong achieved 37 per cent greater profit growth, suffered an 8 per cent lower rate of attrition, and achieved a 26 per cent higher engagement score.

Four companies will be awarded "Best Employer in Hong Kong" status today, together with awards bestowed for "Commitment to Engagement", "Best Employer for Generation Y" and "Best Employer for Women" (see results box below for details). Of the four companies which scooped the main award, one - The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong - can be especially pleased with being awarded the "Best of the Best" title.

"We are indeed very excited that we have been named 'Best of the Best', and also 'Best Employer for Generation Y' for the second time in a row," says Pierre Perusset, general manager of The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong. "We remain humble in receiving these awards, as it is getting very competitive in the hospitality industry nowadays - organisations are more cognizant of the way that they take care of their employees."

Perusset believes that The Ritz-Carlton's distinctive company culture and set of values helped it to stand out in the judging process. Empowerment, he says, is also something the company is known for. "[This] enables us to provide the finest personal service for our guests," he says.

Leadership commitment and employee promise also play a big part. "We execute our promise by providing a positive work environment through trust, honesty, respect, integrity and commitment. Excellent learning and promotion opportunities within the company were also among the things they looked into."

While the needs of the hotel's Generation Y workforce are no different from those in any other company, Perusset explains that the company empowers its younger employees and ensures they feel valued.

"We treat them equally with respect. There is no hierarchy and we involve them in the planning of the work that affects them."

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