Hong Kong has an unrelenting work ethic – a UBS report that surveyed 71 cities noted that HK works 38% longer hours than the global average, adding up to 50+ hours a week with many of us working weekends.
Coupled with a culturally ingrained presenteeism, it’s unsurprising that our mental health related illnesses are soaring with 60% of working professionals in Hong Kong reporting job-related stress and anxiety, according to a Mental Health Association survey.
Attitude and behaviourial changes can address these critical issues and the way we approach work. We know other economies that have adopted strategies such as flexible working are seeing benefits among companies and employees alike. Among them:
· Improved efficiency – the majority of employees note they are more productive at home
· Better teamwork – a FlexJob survey showed nearly 80% of professional noted they would be more loyal to their employers with flexible work options
· Higher retention levels and access to a wider talent pool who cannot commit to an 8-10 hour work day
We know there is appetite for more flexible work policies in Hong Kong. According to a Hays Asia Gender Diversity report earlier this year, 87% of Hong Kong respondents said flexibility is a top consideration when weighing up an offer from a potential new employer.
For women, flexible work is particularly important. The Women’s Commission noted that 30% of women in Hong Kong drop out of the workforce due to caring responsibilities. Flexible work options would go a long way towards providing these women with the ability to juggle multiple priorities. Companies like BHP are leading the way in offering flexible work. The CEO, who has pledged 50% women in their workforce by 2025, also sees embracing flexible working as part of achieving this goal by example noting: “overwork can not only diminish returns for a business, but also be a “scorpion’s tail” that can ultimately sting productivity.”
At TWF, we know that flexible working is only one measure companies can adopt to build an ecosystem that cultivates, encourages and retains a diverse workforce. To help, we have produced a suite of best practice guides that tackle a range of issues affecting the attraction, retention and promotion of women in the workplace; from building an effective Unconscious Gender Bias Strategy to Success Markers for building Return-to-Work Programmes for Women, Gender Inclusive Global Mobility Programmes and creating internal women’s networks and mentoring programmes that will help drive real change at an organisation.
The future of work is changing and we hope Hong Kong can keep pace with these changes and remain globally competitive. More importantly, we need to ensure that Hong Kong’s talent (i.e. its working men and women) are able to not just survive - but thrive - in their livelihoods and their ability to contribute back to society as a parent, a caregiver, a citizen and beyond.
Get in touch at Fiona.Nott@twfhk.org. Have a great week.