Best employers make more profit
Exploring workplace issues with Ji-Ye Hwang
For the past eight months I have been leading a study to find the best employers in Hong Kong. Last month we announced a top-10 list.
What differentiates the best from the rest is that best employers treat their employees as their most valued assets and employees know it.
What makes a successful employer-employee relationship is how we express ourselves to each other. I have heard that love is not a feeling, it is a verb. If you love somebody you express this through your time, resources and actions. It is the same at an organisational level.
In Hewitt Associate's Best Employers in Hong Kong 2007 study, human resources personnel from about 85 per cent of participating companies said that their organisation treated their employees as their most valued assets. But less than half of all employees agreed. Many companies fell short in translating 'we value you' into action.
Best employers consider people issues as business issues, so human resources is more than just an administrative function. Human resources has a seat on the senior management team and plays a critical role in making the business strategy a reality by optimising conditions so the desired results can be achieved.
To employees, HR is a group of people to take care of their needs. Chief executives of companies who were best employers commonly cited employee engagement - the degree to which an organisation has captured the hearts and minds of employees - as the most critical issue that would make or break their businesses. So best employers know that what gets measured gets done.
My firm runs the Best Employers in Hong Kong study so we cannot participate as a candidate. However, I am proud that we practice what we preach. Every leader has a portion of their bonuses tied to an employee engagement score. We measure engagement every year and if the office engagement target is not met these leaders lose a portion of their bonus. So leaders in our office take staff engagement seriously.
Best employers trust their employees to do their jobs. So, if a customer needs to get a fee waived or an employee needs to go on an urgent trip without the time to follow the regular procedures, employees at best employers just do it. If you trust your employees they will do an even better job of protecting the interests of the organisation. We found in the study that on average the profit growth of best employers was 38 per cent per year compared with 17 per cent in other companies. The study showed that being financially successful and valuing your people were not divergent goals. When you treat people right they will do even more for your bottom line.
Ji-Ye Hwang is a senior consultant with Hewitt Associates, a global HR consulting and outsourcing company. She is Hewitt Hong Kong's lead consultant for employee engagement. Her views are not necessarily endorsed by Hewitt Associates