Shirley Fung, Head of Human Resources & Administration and John Siu, Managing Director, Hong Kong, Cushman & Wakefield

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Shirley Fung, Head of Human Resources & Administration, Hong Kong, Cushman & Wakefield, observes that recruitment has not been easy amid the pandemic. While some have faced the axe, others have decided to stay put because of the economic uncertainty.

She is joined by John Siu, Managing Director, in building a slew of initiatives to retain talent in the post-pandemic era.

Looking into the post-pandemic future, two leaders at Cushman & Wakefield cite talent management as one of the top challenges, and hence, that has become the real estate services firm’s HR priority.

Shirley Fung, Head of Human Resources and Administration, Cushman & Wakefield Hong Kong, observes that recruitment has not been easy amid the pandemic. While some have faced the axe across the local landscape, others have decided to stay put because of the economic uncertainty brought by the pandemic.

“When the pandemic winds down and the economy starts to pick up, talent will consider getting a new job. And for some businesses, they will start resuming their recruitment processes. The war for talent will be fierce,” says John Siu, Managing Director, Hong Kong, Cushman & Wakefield.

With this foresight, Cushman & Wakefield has looked into both monetary and non-monetary incentives to retain talent. Even though the business was hit hard by the pandemic last year, all employees were paid their full bonus. Additionally, Siu and his team successfully worked with the global team to provide salary increments for employees this year.

Even so, Siu and Fung recognise that employees are looking for more.

“We always emphasise that it is important to let colleagues feel at home, create a sense of belonging at work, cultivate a positive company culture, and reinforce a diverse and inclusive culture, apart from making sure that our salary and benefits package is competitive,” Siu says.

Effective communication and driving inner mobility are critical to the firm, which believes in maintaining a flat hierarchy and a tight-knit culture in place.

“As the MD of the Hong Kong office, I always tell new employees that they can talk to me directly anytime and without an appointment,” Siu says.

In fact, he organises a monthly gathering to introduce new employees, announce new assignments and achievements, and recognise specific teams. For those who can’t attend, he sends out a newsletter with the same content.

Whether it is young talent or the ones who have been with the company for decades, the firm makes sure there are different engagement plans catered to them.

For employees aged 30 and below, Cushman & Wakefield has in place its Youth Intelligence Committee (YIC) to facilitate more interactions amid the pandemic. The purpose of the YIC programme is to close the gap between generations, ranks and departments. YIC representatives are also invited to department heads’ regular meetings so they have a clearer picture of the business direction.

Under the revamped programme, YIC 2.0 participants have a clearer set of goals and benefits by understanding more about the future business direction and giving feedback to the management team.

More recently, YIC had dinner with the executive committee, marketing and HR departments to get to know each other better.

To understand talent profiles better in order to drive internal mobility, Siu and Fung regularly use a nine-square division (九宮格) to identify where the top talent stands between high performers and high potentials. Based on the analysis, they design a tailor-made plan to drive their future development.

Looking ahead, Fung comments on the changing role of HR by urging HR teams to leave behind their mindset of being a “backup support”, and to become more proactive.


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