Hong Kong companies regard the quality of their staff as the key to success, according to a survey that indicates a shift in business sentiment. In a poll of 442 firms, 90.8 per cent said they were more concerned about the quality of employees than salary levels. 'This is an interesting finding,' said Michael Fung Ka-yiu, an associate professor at Chinese University who headed the survey. 'This shows that local businesses no longer focus only on minimising expenses, but also on other resources, like talent. In other words, the quality of industry structure has improved.' Chinese University and Lingnan University interviewed executives of companies including those in the trading, logistics, finance, service and manufacturing industries - with half of them being small and medium-sized enterprises - from June to August. Salaries ranked only fifth in their list of concerns. Reliability of communication technology surprisingly came second, ahead of the rule of law and electricity supplies, said Professor Fung, who described the survey as the first of its kind in Southeast Asia. 'We first thought, 'Why communication devices?' Then we realised how important they are to businesses nowadays, especially to logistics companies.' The survey also found that the cost of property rental was the greatest source of dissatisfaction among companies - at 30.3 per cent - followed by logistics expenses at 29.4 per cent. Salaries were fourth on this list at 16.6 per cent. More than half the companies said the cost of renting offices constituted more than 30 per cent of their expenses. Professor Fung suggested the government and private sector allocate more resources to training in order to maintain the competitiveness of local businesses.