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Firms hankering for staff who can bring home the bacon

Published on Friday, 22 Mar 2013

In improving economic times, it is one thing for companies to frame budget plans around growth targets of, say, 10 per cent, supplemented by a few lines of vague commentary about  untapped markets, new initiatives and assumed competitive strengths. In the cold light of day, it is quite another to translate such plans into action and results.

Since few organisations enjoy the luxury of having business come to them, the first practical step in most cases is to boost the revenue-generating team. Depending on the sector and in-house structure, that can refer to anyone from frontline retail staff and sales directors to wealth managers, marketing specialists, and customer-service support. This explains the  concerted push seen so far this year to hire, train, retain and, if necessary, entice employees with proven experience or clear potential to win over clients and bring home the bacon.

“The majority of employers across a range of sectors are focused on building up their sales and account-management teams,” says Andy Bentote, senior managing director of PageGroup for Hong Kong and Southern China. “They are also looking to leverage the territory’s strengths [as a base for] Asian operations to expand their teams and add other revenue-generating roles.”

Findings in the latest Michael Page Hong Kong Employment Index, published this month, make this plain. A significant 71 per cent of the HR professionals and hiring managers surveyed  said their main focus for recruitment in the first half of the year was to fill positions with a direct impact on sales and income. Linked to that, 48 per cent indicated that their retention  strategies would look more to performance-based rewards. This implies that compensation for those who excel would not necessarily be limited by internal pay scales tied to seniority or by other arbitrary caps.

“While financial reward and remuneration continue to play an important role in any good attraction-and-retention strategy, offering employees career-development opportunities also remains essential,” Bentote says. “Retaining proven performers is a key business challenge for most employers, so they must consider not just base pay and incentives, but also training, corporate culture and work-life balance.”

For many companies, this year’s forecast growth may also provide the chance to expand their regional presence, or move towards more outsourcing of back-office operations to lower-cost areas. If so, they should be aware of the implications.

“Our survey showed 87 per cent of employers cite staff engagement as the key challenge of managing a remote team,” Bentote says. “But as Hong Kong grows as a business hub for Asia, this is becoming a more common responsibility. Employers must implement relevant talent-management strategies to engage staff working in different geographical locations more effectively.”

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