Hong Kong Employees Prefer Salary Over Work-Life Balance

One of the world’s largest professional accounting bodies, CPA Australia, warns an increasing demand for pecuniary rewards from existing and potential employees may lead to rising labour cost for Hong Kong companies.

The warning follows the release of the results of CPA Australia’s 2015 Hong Kong Human Capital Survey which was conducted from 29 May to 15 June.

Over one-third of respondents (36.3 per cent) stated that salary is the most important consideration when looking for a new role, up from 27.2 per cent last year; followed by work-life balance (27 per cent) which was ranked first in the 2014 survey results.

When asked the most important factor contributing to employee retention, respondents ranked attractive salary and compensation (41.3 per cent) as the most important factor, well ahead of the second most selected factor, work-life balance (17.4 per cent).

Commenting on the results, Mr. Kenneth Chen, Divisional President – Greater China, CPA Australia said: “Not surprisingly, salary is more important than work-life balance in attracting and retaining the right staff in Hong Kong companies. I however, caution against employers focusing purely on higher salaries. It is good practice for employers to link increased salaries with improvements in productivity and to consider other financial and non-financial benefits for employees.”

Hong Kong’s jobs outlook over the next six months is promising with 43.6 per cent of respondents indicating that they believe their companies will increase their headcount in Hong Kong. This is the best employment outlook since this survey began in 2012 and is up 12.7 percentage points since 2014. The key drivers of that expected headcount increase are expected robust growth of the existing business (23.8 per cent) and supporting business growth in Mainland China (16.9 per cent).

Compared to the 2014 survey findings, the average staff turnover rate appears to have fallen, with 44.8 per cent of respondents forecasting their company’s average staff turnover rate over the past 12 months was between 1 to 9.9 per cent, an increase of 17.4 percentage points from the previous year.

In terms of working hours per week, 59.9 per cent of respondents currently work between 41 to 50 hours each week. This is up 9.3 percentage points from the 2014 survey. While the number of respondents working over 50 hours a week fell from 40 per cent last year to 31.4 per cent this year.

In the next five years, respondents expect the most in demand job / role in finance and accounting is compliance and risk management (49.4 per cent). The most in demand skill sets are expected to be risk management (30.2 per cent), strategic thinking (21.5 per cent) and e-commerce knowledge (18.6 per cent).

“One of the most significant findings of this survey is the level of challenge companies face finding suitable staff, and the future demand in the finance and accounting sectors. Companies may need to offer more attractive salaries and benefits to compete in the market for the same top candidates. To fill the skills gap, we believe accounting professionals will need to enhance their risk management and compliance skills in response to greater regulation of the financial services industry and increased demand for transparency from stakeholders.” commented Mr Chen.

When looking for employment, 35.5 per cent of respondents use social media to seek a job, with LinkedIn (88.5 per cent) being the most popular platform. Among those using social media for job seeking, 33.3 per cent believe social media gives them easier access to potential employers and also identifies more suitable jobs that match their experience and skill set (23.3 per cent).


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