HK workers put wages above loyalty to boss

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 November, 2011, 12:00am

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Workers in Hong Kong are more concerned about their salaries than others around the world. And almost four in 10 workers here are so unhappy about their current job that they are 'seriously considering leaving', according to a poll of about 30,000 employees worldwide.

The survey, conducted this year by recruitment consultancy Mercer, also indicated a high level of discontent among Hong Kong employees with their bosses.

Of the 1,000 local workers polled, only 39 per cent rated their benefits package as good. Only 47 per cent said their bosses showed concern for employees' well-being. However, 50 per cent also said their bosses knew how to set clear work objectives.

Mercer's study, released yesterday, covered Hong Kong and 16 countries in the Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific region.

With 100 as a base score, Hong Kong employees gave 'base pay' a score of 121, higher than the global average of 106. But unlike workers in other parts of the world who rated 'being treated with respect' and 'work-life balance' as the two most important factors in their work, local workers only gave respective scores of 109 and 104 to the two factors. That compares with the global respective averages of 119 and 111.

Among the factors local workers cared least about was 'having flexible working arrangements', with a score of 86. Despite the figures, Hong Kong workers were not the least loyal.

The study found that 56 per cent of workers in Brazil and Mexico wanted to resign, while that in India was 54 per cent.

The Netherlands seemed to have the most loyal workers. Only 28 per cent of Dutch workers planned to quit. In the United States, the percentage was 32 per cent, despite an unemployment rate of 9.1 per cent nationwide.

'Our research shows that, despite some ongoing economic uncertainty, more employees would consider leaving today for a better opportunity,' said Brenda Wilson, Mercer's Asia Pacific leader for talent management, 'Employee engagement reflects the total work experience and a big part of it is how you are treated, what kind of work you do, and how you feel about your co-workers, bosses, and the general work environment.'

Dr Billy Mak Sui-choi, associate professor at Baptist University's school of business, said: 'The work culture in Hong Kong is that people work very hard and long hours, with many having no overtime pay. So, very often, once they can find another job with slightly better conditions, they will quit the present one.'

Mung Siu-tat, chief executive of the Confederation of Trade Unions, said good communication was key to retaining staff.

'Our experience is that in companies where workers are represented by a union, the communication between the bosses and workers is better, and thus staff morale and job satisfaction are also higher.'

Hong Kong's jobless rate is at a 13-year low of 3.2 per cent. Earlier this week, a poll found local bosses were budgeting for 5 per cent pay increases next year.