Leisure and educational activities help employees strike the right balance

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 April, 2007, 12:00am

Central to the human resources strategy of Sun Hung Kai Properties is a dedication to helping staff strike the right balance between work, personal development, family life and social responsibility.

May Lau Mei-mui, the company's head of corporate communications, said this was the key to staff morale and to the consequent success of the business.

'We believe that happy staff bring in happy customers, and that leads to referrals and repeat business,' said Ms Lau.

'It is a situation in which the customer, employees and the company all win.'

She said the importance of work-life balance was stressed at every opportunity in the workplace. Posters displayed in the office remind staff about the issue, with the message reinforced in internal publications and via an intranet system.

To help employees deal with stress and acquire new interest, the company, which was runner-up in Hewitt Associates' Best Employer in Hong Kong 2007, organises a wide range of leisure activities. These include movie nights, outings, and lunch-time classes in activities ranging from tai chi, yoga and aromatherapy to cookery, chess and stress management, some of which family members are welcome to join. All staff are encouraged to take a proper lunch break, which they can use to get better acquainted with other employees who are part of the company's total regional workforce of 27,000.

Sun Hung Kai Properties recently set up a 'hearty hotline', giving staff and their families the chance to discuss personal issues with professional social workers, psychologists and counsellors.

'If staff stay mentally fit, they can handle pressure,' said Ms Lau.

Physical well-being is also attended to, with gyms, free flu vaccinations and constant monitoring of office air quality.

Realising that personal development also plays a big part in finding the right balance in life, the company lays on many opportunities in this area. There were more than 300 courses, seminars and workshops last year on diverse topics, and these involved more than 10,000 participants. Also available are a library, online courses, and financial support for employees taking outside courses under a continuing education programme.

Senior employees are often sent overseas to complete further studies at institutions, such as Harvard University, where they can develop a more global perspective.

'These initiatives help create an environment of integrity, trust and respect, where everyone is treated fairly,' said Ms Lau. 'People who work for a company that considers their needs can be flexible, and that offers good colleagues who will want to continue working for that company.'