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Alan Wong, country head, Kelly Services shares three cases on how to tap into the hidden talent pool through flexible working arrangement.
Facing an ageing labour force, the Hong Kong government has estimated the city could face a shortage of 117,900 workers in different sectors by 2022.
Given work-life balance is the talents’ second most important factor (75%), after salary and remuneration (86%), in choosing one job over another according to the latest Kelly Global Workforce Index, employers can consider to maximize their hiring pool by widening their choice of talent to the free agent workforce – individuals who consult; perform temporary, freelance or independent contract work; or have their own business.
Unlike other company programs, work-life design cannot be implemented with a top-down company-wide approach. It is highly individualized and it evolves – whatever works with one staff may not work with another staff, and a staff’s work-life needs change across time.
Here are cases of how Kelly Services, by answering to talents’ work-life design, enable the company to tap into the free agent workforce and drive staff motivation.
Case one: Flexible working arrangements for back-to-work parents
Genevieve Chan, our marketing director, has more than 20 years of marketing and communication experience. She has a young son to care for and wants to slow down her career.
We are happy to accommodate her needs with a part-time contract and flexible working hours to help her balance between career and family.
“Like most local marketers, I used to work long hours and travel often, but I can no longer do this because of my son. I hope more employers can be more open-minded to offer flexible working arrangements. They are missing out on high quality talent if they don’t. I know many highly qualified individuals who had to give up their career after their children were born because no boss is willing to allow them to work part-time,” Chan said.
Hiring only full-time workers won’t meet the talent demands in the near future. Employers should no longer think that getting staff to stay in the office during office hours means they are being productivity.
For professionals, it is meaningless to provide them with standard working hours. If you are able to give them room for growth, and working arrangements that fit their needs, they will be willing to go the extra mile for you.
Case two: Unleashing the full potential of our talent
Supporting employees to fulfil their career goals is something that employers have to do in order to retain talent. One of our senior talent consultants Stephanie Lam decided to make a career change in becoming a life coach.
As an employer, we tried to accommodate her decision to make her next career move. To begin with, we offered her a part-time working arrangement so she could spend time on obtaining her life coach certification without having to take a career break.
Understanding her need to conduct “life coach” consultations, as part of the process of earning the qualification, we expanded her work scope from Kelly Recruitment into Kelly Consultation where she could use her life coach skills in an outplacement project.
Since life coach is not a consultation service of Kelly, we didn’t charge the client for it. Yet the staff’s “life coach” knowledge was an added-value service, and was well-appreciated by the client.
By supporting her goal of becoming a life coach, we were able to strike a triple-win scenario – enhanced staff motivation, improved the company’s service quality and a more satisfied client.
Another example of allowing an employee to play to their strength was Sara Wong, director of RPO Solution, who is a regular speaker on radio career talk shows.
Her former boss considered her appearing on shows a waste of time, but we are happy to see her talent being recognised. We encourage her to appear on radio shows and she is now a frequent speaker for Kelly in job fairs and universities.
Case three: Staff’s work passion increases when they feel respected and cared for
Most local HR departments still see contract workers as a liability more than an asset. This concept has to be changed because contract workers are going to play a bigger role in the future workforce as individuals look for more flexible environments to work in.
Soon after Emily Yum, a contract employee officer, joined us, she was pregnant. We did our utmost to assist her, including offering her paid maternity leave even though she was not yet entitled to it, and we also provided her with flexible working arrangements and hired temporary staff to alleviate her workload.
The fair treatment from Kelly Services inspired her to approach the management of the client company where she is serving to negotiate fair benefits for her contract employees.
Her effort was inspiring for the client’s management, who realised that when offering more benefits and respect, it inspired them to work harder.
“For the last two years, we have flexibly allowed work-life design elements to improve company performance. Our revenue increased by over 120% during 2014-15 with voluntary staff turnover decreasing by over 30% during the same period. As an HR practitioner, I’d highly encourage more companies in Hong Kong to includework-life balance as a means to attract, motivate or even retain talents,” said Alan Wong, Managing Director, Kelly Services Hong Kong.
The June 2016 issue of Human Resources magazine is a special edition, bringing you interviews with 32 HR leaders, with their predictions on the future of HR.