Career Advice HR Focus

People power

HKIHRM HR Excellence Awards honour the best HR practices

In the 1960s and ’70s, the work of human resources (HR) personnel was generally confined to overseeing employee compensation and benefits, hiring and firing staff, and adhering to the labour ordinance. Nowadays, HR professionals are not only required to have the basic HR skills but also the ability to think about the bigger company picture. This picture should involve sustainability, cost effectiveness, staff-retention programmes, corporate culture and corporate social responsibility – all of which should have a direct impact on business performance.

The Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management (HKIHRM) was established 36 years ago to provide professional advice and strategic know-how to HR professionals. These professionals can in turn adopt best people-management practices and become strategically involved in their company’s operations, rather than just play an execution role.

“The institute was formed by a group of senior HR executives who had mainly spent many years working at large or international corporations in various industries and had a profound knowledge of effective HR management skills,” says David Li, HKIHRM vice-president. “Through the sharing and training we provide for our members, we see HR executives continuing to demonstrate greater competence in their work and starting to play a bigger role in their companies.

“For management-level HR executives, we periodically offer consultancy master classes and global training through which they can further sharpen their skills and network with counterparts. The objective is to see everyone truly become a global HR professional.”

In 2010 the institute launched the HKIHRM HR Professional Standards Model to provide a framework to help HR professionals better plan their career paths and map their development needs. Two years later it followed up with the launch of the HR Excellence Awards to recognise organisations and individuals operating in Hong Kong, Mainland China and Asia-Pacific who have implemented effective HR management practices which have made a significant contribution to the success of their companies. The institute is now seeking entries for its HR Excellence Awards 2013.

“We have set up a number of judging criteria for the organisational and individual awards and the Grand Award of the year. We have also invited leaders from various sectors to be on the judging panel, including our judging panel chairman, Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, the secretary for labour and welfare,” Li, who is also committee chairman of the awards, says.

There are different categories under the umbrella of the organisational and individual awards, and the Grand Award. Strategic HR, HR practices, HR services provider and SME all come under the organisational awards, while excellent HR leader, excellent HR professional and rising star are grouped under the individual awards. The winner of the Grand Award will be chosen from awardees in the strategic HR and HR practices categories. Selection is subject to the discretion of the judging panel and 16 awards will be presented.

“Because participants have to fully meet all the criteria based on the Professional Standards Model in order to win, there’s a chance that some of these awards may not find winners,” Li says.

The judging criteria for these awards are based on four major considerations: methodology of the initiative or project, execution, achievement and outcome, and creativity and innovation.

The methodology involves a core concept, which includes areas such as business partners, cultural change or talent management. Participants are expected to clearly define their goals and objectives as well as how they can help drive the success of their organisations and align organisational objectives with the needs of stakeholders. The execution should be in line with the suitability and effectiveness of the approach and be supported by stakeholders. The outcome should have benefits created for stakeholders, staff, clients and the management of clients. Lastly, creativity and innovation in fostering clients’ flexibility and competitive advantages will also be evaluated.

“We are excited about organising the HR Excellence Awards 2013,” Li says. “Last year’s response was so positive and the number of sponsors and supporting organisations involved shows how well the event was supported. We know that through this we can find more companies, large and small, who are truly practising professional HR management.”

Interested organisations and individuals must complete an application form together with a brief report of no more than 1,000 words by 16 May. The HK$3,500 application fee will be waived during the early-bird period (see below for full details).


How to apply

1. Download application form from

2. Complete and submit application form to by 6pm on 16 May 2013


An application fee of HK$3,500 will be waived during the early-bird period. Early-bird period closes on 10 May 2013. Application fees for Excellent SME Award and all individual awards are waived throughout the whole application period.

Key dates

10 May: Early-bird deadline closes

16 May (6pm): Application period closes

2, 4, 15, 16, 17 and 18 July: First interviews

28 August: Final judging interviews

8 October: Awards presentation ceremony


Excellent benefits

It is a common belief that large corporations can offer staff comprehensive fringe benefits simply because of their solid financial backgrounds. Small and medium-sized companies, on the other hand, are assumed to be less generous and more focused on profit-making than being empathetic about employee welfare. This belief has been challenged by Richform Holdings, which picked up the HKIHRM’s Excellent SME Award in 2012.

“Running a mid-sized drinking-water company of 30 people, I know it’s hard to compete with large conglomerates in terms of staff benefits,” says Richform CEO Jimmy Lau. “So I tried to think from an employee’s perspective and see what could help create a strong sense of belonging among our staff.”

Lau fully understands that excellent customer service is paramount to the company’s success, but also that it is futile without full co-operation from his staff. He therefore stresses building a corporate culture that is warm and family-orientated. He also tries to create a harmonious working environment in which his staff can feel at home, and provides a range of attractive and
innovative staff benefits.

Whether an employee works as a front-line sales representative or in the back office, the company does not hesitate to sponsor them for outside training should a relevant opportunity present itself.

“I am not afraid if one day one of my employees decides to leave. I am only concerned that they don’t have enough work experience and knowledge,” Lau says. “Paying for staff training is an investment and I really care about their development.”

Lau extends staff benefits to next of kin and individual health care. A small sum in parent-gratitude allowance is offered to each employee’s parents monthly. Professional masseurs also visit the office every three months to alleviate work stress for staff.

“I want to create a family-friendly corporate culture that is warm and caring, so I came up with perks such as paternity leave, non-overtime work patterns, free fruit for better health, sleeping for half an hour as an extension of lunchtime, and Chinese herbal and diet therapy,” Lau says. “As a result, I now have a turnover rate of less than 5 per cent and business turnover has increased by 20 per cent on average over the last three years. That tells me I must be doing the right thing.”