Career Advice Job Market Report

Using incentives and wellness to increase motivation and employee engagement is the focus of today’s Classified Post HR Conference

As organisations seek new ways to attract, retain and engage with their employees, participants attending today’s Classified Post HR Conference, on the theme of “Rewards and Wellness: Better Ways for Motivation and Engagement”, will hear first-hand how employee-oriented, future-focused rewards and well-being programmes can provide a platform for a healthy, productive and engaged workforce, while achieving desired business outcomes.

Taking place at the Hyatt Regency Hong Kong Hotel, Tsim Sha Tsui, the full-day conference will feature distinguished keynote speakers, case studies, networking opportunities and panel discussions on key trends, developments and strategies designed to stimulate opinion-sharing and next-step thinking to help HR practitioners structure and implement rewards and well-being programmes.

Often referred to in the HR lexicon as “total rewards” programmes, their core components are usually identified as a mix of compensation, employee benefits, work-life balance initiatives, personal recognition and career development, with workplace wellness and well-being increasingly playing a bigger part in the combination.

With numerous studies indicating that, in addition to salary, non-monetary rewards are effective engagement and motivation tools, Alex Ho, general manager, recruitment, circulation, syndication business at South China Morning Post Publishers believes it is important that HR professionals and the organisations they work for keep up to date with the latest workplace rewards and wellness trends. “Classified Post is pleased to organise the HR Rewards and Wellness conference, which will help participants uncover fresh perspectives and best practices they can adapt and apply within their own organisations,” says Ho, who notes that today’s multi-generational workforce, increasingly populated by millennial talent, tends to view salary and benefits differently than previous generations, which means that one-size-fits-all benefits packages are no longer applicable. In addition, Ho notes that, in a talent-squeezed market underlined by Hong Kong’s 20-year record low unemployment level, rewards and wellness incentives can play an important part in maintaining a sustainable workforce.

As the nature and meaning of work continues to be reshaped, Royston Tan, head of health and benefits at Willis Towers Watson (WTW), Hong Kong believes that total rewards programmes have become more important than ever. “I don’t think there can be any conversations about the ‘future of work’ without including the topic of total rewards,” says Tan, whose keynote presentation, “Roadmap for modernising benefits”, will highlight different ways that employers can improve communication and employee awareness about the range of benefits they are offered.

Because organisations often focus on compensation as a competitive employee proposition, Tan stresses there are opportunities for employers to leverage other incentives to boost employee engagement. For example, citing a recent WTW benefits survey, Tan says 57 per cent of employee respondents consider health a priority and look to their employers to help them to live healthier lives. “This is a great opportunity for employers to engage with their talent,” notes Tan, who adds that well-being goes beyond physical health to include financial, emotional and social well-being.

With employees within most organisations spanning several generations, Hayly Leung, general manager, HR Services, Group HR, Jardine Matheson Limited, delivering the first case study of the morning, will focus on why a one-size-fits-all rewards and benefits strategy is no longer a workable proposition from an employer cost or employee-needs perspective. “Knowing what employees are looking for is key,” explains Leung, whose case study will focus on “modernising rewards to attract, motivate and retain a multigenerational workforce”. Leung says the traditional reward packages based on competitive pay, bonuses and healthcare are no longer enough to meet the diverse needs of a multi-generational talent sector. To take account of the talent demographics, Leung advises that employers take a holistic view of their rewards offerings to include not only traditional benefits and rewards, but also career development programmes, mentoring programmes, opportunities for talent mobility, well-being programmes and flexible working arrangements.

Presenting the second case study of the morning, Sum Wong, CEO and co-founder of start-up firm EventXtra, a one-stop corporate event registration platform, will outline some of the ways that talent attraction and benefits are offered from the perspective of a young and agile enterprise. “We handle our recruitment and talent rewards a little bit differently from the traditional way,” Wong says.

Rather than structured benefits, EventXtra employees are provided with a growth fund which can be used for skills enhancement training or attending seminars and conferences. To keep employees engaged, staff are invited to regularly move between job functions. When it comes to recruitment, EventXtra uses technologies that scan professional networks such as LinkeIn to identify fresh talent from a wide pool of candidates, before human-to-human interviews are conducted.

During the conference’s lunch break, Elaine Lau, chief corporate solutions officer at AIA Hong Kong and Macau, will keep the learning and sharing experience active with a presentation focusing on “Engaging and Energising Your Workforce with a Total Corporate Solutions”.

Keen that his presentation will spark excitement and help the audience think differently about the way employees rewards and recognition is offered, Jeff Williford, senior facilitator at Disney Institute notes that while many organisations focus on monetary rewards to recognise and engage with employees, there are other ways employers can strengthen employee engagement. For example, by reviewing and amending workplace processes and procedures that may make sense for the business, but may present challenges for employees, can help to make work more engaging and rewarding. “Businesses need to evaluate the different ways they can optimise their efforts,” suggests Williford.

During his presentation on Disney’s approach to employee engagement, Williford will highlight the various ways that Disney rewards and engages with its employees, while pointing out that meaningful recognition tends to mean different things to different people. In addition to rewards, for example, recognition can be as simple as thanking employees, sharing positive employee or customer stories and letting staff know how they contribute to the overall success of the business.

Listening to employees when they offer ideas is another way of showing them their opinions are valued and welcomed. “It’s a matter of personalising or tailoring, your company sponsored recognition programme, as it drives the perception that the organisation cares about the individual as an employee,” explains Williford, who adds that a demonstration of care should be viewed not as a cost, but an investment.

While salary and traditional benefits form integral pillars of a compensation and benefits package, Sunny Cheung, CEO at Octopus Cards believes a total rewards package should also satisfy employees’ growing appetite for “meaningful” work. “Employees want to be involved and to be able to see how their contributions make a difference,” says Cheung, who notes this is particularly evident with employees from the so-called generation-Y and generation-Z demographics. “Younger talent want more than just money,” explains Cheung. He will be providing examples of how this can be achieved during his “Using Total Rewards to Step up the Ride” presentation. Cheung will also cite examples of the various ways that Octopus Cards has engaged with employees to redefine the company’s total rewards strategy based on staff engagement, well-being, people development and performance management.

As established companies compete more with start-ups and technology brings change to nearly every facet of life, Dr Tim Carey, professional consultant at Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), says there are increasing challenges to recruiting and retaining talent. Adding additional challenges, Carey says the younger generations of employees value less traditional benefits in preference for flexitime and unpaid leave.

“There is a very interesting confluence of variables that is changing the business landscape,” notes Carey, who will focus on “Compensating and Benefitting Millennials – what works” during the final afternoon keynote presentation.

 Carey says that, to keep star employees for even two years, HR and senior management need to rethink what they offer employees, based on what employees value. “While some employees will always simply value ‘more money’, others are much more focused on lifestyle and being more comfortable at work.” Carey says that, for those employees, simply throwing more money at the issue – or person – will not work.



Conference Rundown


Opening Remarks


Secretary for Labour and Welfare


Morning Keynote

Roadmap for Modernising Benefits


Head of Health and Benefits, Hong Kong

Willis Towers Watson


Case Study 1

Modernising Rewards to Attract, Motivate and Retain a Multigenerational Workforce


General Manager, HR Services, Group Human Resources, Jardine Matheson

Human Resources Director, Jardine Pacific



Case Study 2

Startup’s Innovative Rewards to Attract and Retain


CEO and Co-Founder,



Panel Discussion

Beyond Compensation: Challenges and Steps to a Better Reward System


Luncheon Conference

Engaging and Energising Your Workforce with a Total Corporate Solutions


Chief Corporate Solutions Officer, AIA Hong Kong and Macau


D’Think Employee Engagement


Senior Facilitator

Disney Institute


Case Study 3

Using Total Rewards to Step Up the Ride


CEO, Octopus Cards


Afternoon Keynote

Compensating and Benefitting Millennials – What Works?


Professional Consultant, Chinese University of Hong Kong