Total Rewards Asia Summit 2024 Singapore
Going beyond the annual party: Engagement, rewards and recognition initiatives by employers in Hong Kong

Going beyond the annual party: Engagement, rewards and recognition initiatives by employers in Hong Kong


HR leaders from Simmons and Simmons, The Langham Hong Kong, Tam Jai International, and Lenovo share with HRO’s Tracy Chan their strategies and initiatives.

According to research by Quantum Workplace, when employees believe they will be recognised, they are 2.7 more likely to be highly engaged. Also indicated in another report from the Achievers Workforce Institute (AWI) is that social (non-monetary) recognition is just as impactful as monetary recognition for driving productivity, engagement, and job commitment.

Evidently, rewards and recognition play a critical role in employee engagement.

One effective non-monetary way to reward and recognise employees is to treat them. In Hong Kong, companies usually have their annual dinner around the Christmas season, or before or after Chinese New Year, to appreciate and celebrate the contributions and efforts made by their employees over the past year. The resumption of such an event is especially essential after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic when face-to-face engagement was then highly restricted.

With a sumptuous meal, interesting games, and attractive gifts, there is no doubt that employees felt boosted and participated strongly during the event. But after a night of excitement, what more can be done to prolong the impact and engage employees for the long term?

In this feature, HRO’s Tracy Chan talks to HR leaders from Simmons and Simmons, The Langham, Hong Kong, Tam Jai International, and Lenovo, to delve deeper into their strategies and initiatives to engage, reward, and recognise employees beyond an annual party.

Simmons and Simmons

As a cherished tradition to celebrate collective achievements and thank all employees for their hard work and dedication throughout the year, the international law firm held its Hong Kong Spring dinner this year on 23 February, joined by partners from its Singapore, Beijing, and Shanghai offices, as well as visitors from the UK.

Providing an opportunity for everyone to unwind, celebrate, and look forward to the year ahead together, the event aims to foster a sense of community and belonging, reinforce the firm’s values, and provide an informal setting for employees across different departments and levels to interact and build relationships, including its trainees.

“The event is organised by our trainees and facilities team, which is a deliberate choice to help our trainees feel more engaged with the firm,” shared Anissa Yu, Head of HR, Asia, Simmons and Simmons. “It provides them with a valuable opportunity to familiarise themselves with the whole team and to take an active role in a major firm event, which is instrumental to their development and integration into our culture.”

For Simmons and Simmons, employee rewards and recognition are vital components of its engagement strategy to motivate employees, enhance job satisfaction, and foster a positive work environment, indicated Yu.

“By acknowledging the hard work and achievements of our employees, we reinforce the behaviours and values that contribute to the success of our firm. Recognition also serves as a feedback mechanism, letting employees know that their efforts are noticed and valued,” she said.

Beyond rewards and recognition, Simmons and Simmons is also committed to creating a supportive and engaging work environment to attract and retain talents, especially in today’s world of work where different generations work together.

The firm believes that fair and competitive compensation, comprehensive benefits, good work-life balance, as well as clear career paths and opportunities for growth and development, are all crucial factors. In addition, employees, especially younger generations, are looking for meaningful work that aligns with their values.

In that sense, Simmons and Simmons has a range of strategies and initiatives in place. “We offer flexible working models, including hybrid work arrangements, allowing employees to balance their personal and professional lives effectively,” said Yu.

“We provide comprehensive benefits and support for our employees' health and wellbeing, even when working remotely, and we provide resources to maintain our employees' health and safety. We also invest in continuous learning and development opportunities, including international secondments, to enhance our employees' skills and experiences.”

The firm has also been taking steps against discrimination and harassment, striving to create an inclusive workplace where all employees feel valued and respected. “A workplace that values diversity and fosters inclusion can attract a broader talent pool and create a more innovative and collaborative culture,” affirmed Yu.

The Langham, Hong Kong

Echoing its core culture to “Celebrate Success”, and appreciate colleagues’ contributions in the past year, the luxury hotel has recently organised its very first company annual party in the hotel after the epidemic. Themed "Classic Movies Night", all colleagues dressed up as various movie characters to enjoy the Chinese banquet menu from the hotel’s Michelin Three-Star restaurant T’ang Court, fun competitions, exciting lucky draws, and amazing departmental performance shows.

“We were pleased to see everyone's enthusiastic participation that contributed to making it a remarkable and unforgettable event with joy, laughter and great memories,” said Mike Fong, Director of Human Resources, The Langham, Hong Kong.

“The vision of the company is ‘Building Great Memory’, which has also become human resources’ commitment in applying to our staff activities and events. We look forward to celebrating more together as a 'TEAM' and for the 'TEAM' at The Langham, Hong Kong in the future – building great memories!”

The annual event, however, is not the only initiative the hotel has put in place to engage its colleagues. Seeing them as the most valuable asset, The Langham, Hong Kong believes rewards and recognition are both foundational in keeping its colleagues engaged and positive vibe enhanced in providing excellent hospitality services.

“The organisational culture takes colleagues' satisfaction very seriously because all colleagues are our brand ambassadors whose personalities must be friendly, kind, eager to learn, and have a desire to help others,” emphasised Fong.

Therefore, to enhance its colleagues’ pride as its brand ambassadors, the hotel has implemented the ‘Langham Ambassador Programme’ to recognise the success stories of compliments from hotel guests to colleagues. At the same time, the ‘Langham Miles Programme’ is offering a reward scheme with gifts and trophies for the monthly top earners.

“By implementing continuous recognition programmes, we believe colleagues are motivated to offer personalised services with pride to make the hotel brand stand out in the minds of the guests,” said Fong.

In addition, aligned with its conviction of personal growth and career development coaching, the hotel has implemented the ‘Langham Mentorship Programme’ from the year 2023 onwards to offer career mentoring services by senior executives, targeting to groom development as well as engage, reward and recognise outstanding colleagues.

On wellbeing aspect, ‘The Langham Social Clubs’ consists of various leisure groups for colleagues with specific interests, such as jogging, basketball, and bowling, allowing them to gather weekly or bi-weekly to have fun and joy together.

When asked about how to attract and retain diverse talent in today’s world of work, Fong said diversified initiatives and an enriching workplace with respect and recognition are certainly key success factors.

“In every engagement initiative, we certainly consider making a difference for catering to generational preferences,” he said. “For example, prize choices are different to cater to the younger generation with advanced gadgets or traditional dry seafood gift set for the elder workforce even in a single event. In 2023, team-building events were held twice in different spots, including an outlying island and a theme park. Generational preferences were also taken into account for the choices of spots to enhance colleagues’ cohesiveness.”

In terms of talent acquisition, besides traditional job posting platforms, the hotel has also tapped into mobile apps for penetrating candidates of new generations.

“In summary, organisations need to diversify talent attraction and retention initiatives to enhance engagement by tapping into different needs,” reiterated Fong.

Tam Jai International (TJI)

More than an event with glitz and glam, the Hong Kong-based restaurant group, which embodies two local hero brands TamJai Yunnan Mixian and TamJai SamGor Mixian, sees its annual dinner as a remarkable occasion to appreciate and recognise staff, celebrate achievements, and enhance team cohesiveness.

Featuring a meaningful opening ceremony, a 'Long Service Award' ceremony honouring staff who have dedicated decades to the company, entertaining table games, an eagerly anticipated lucky draw, and a spectacular talent show, the annual dinner was a great team-building event and a platform for networking to bring different teams closer together.

“Our annual dinner highlighted the continuity of the Tam Jai spirit and celebrated the achievement of ‘Bringing Tam Jai Taste to the world’. The evening ingeniously showcased the brand-new vision, mission, and values,” said Derek Wu, Chief People Officer, Tam Jai International Co. Ltd.

“The night was filled with energy and laughter, leaving employees with not only gifts, but also cherished memories. The seamless collaboration between the working team also demonstrated the true spirit of teamwork.”

In today's professional landscape, individuals from every generation seek work that is meaningful and aligns with their personal goals and values. To attract and retain talent, TJI strives to promote the group’s vision, mission, and values (VMV) by crafting a compelling employee value proposition (EVP) to showcase the unique benefits and opportunities that align with different generations of employees, and create a supportive work environment that encourages collaboration and development.

Apart from building a sense of pride among its employees by offering them a wealth of prospects to explore thanks to its rapid business expansion beyond Hong Kong, the group is also committed to providing clear career paths and growth opportunities for employees at all levels. Meanwhile, TJI also ensures an inclusive and diverse workplace culture by fostering an environment that celebrates and welcomes individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences.

Recognising people’s need to feel accomplishment, achievement, and mastery, as well as to feel respect from each other, employee rewards and recognition are part of employee experience in TJI that play a crucial role in motivating and retaining its workforce.

“In our organisation, we firmly believe that rewards and recognition are the vitamins of a great team,” affirmed Wu. “By implementing rewards and recognition initiatives across the entire company, this creates a positive employee experience cycle to fully engage all employees.”

As such, the group has established the highly-recognised ‘The TJI Education Support Scheme for Employees’ Children’, which not only assists employees in need, but also promotes fair education and family communication.

In addition, the ‘Employee Share Scheme’ has also been set up for eligible employees to become TJI’s shareholders and actively participate in the group’s collective accomplishment. “The Scheme is designed to recognise and reward our employees’ outstanding contributions while fostering a sense of mutual ownership and alignment with our organisational objectives.,” elaborated Wu. “By becoming our shareholders, our employees will have a strengthened stake in the Group’s future, further solidifying our shared commitment to success.”

And all these are built upon its 'TEAM+' model (Trust, Energy, Adversity and Moment).

“We have developed this TEAM+ model based on the strong conviction that high levels of 'Trust' can establish psychological safety and foster collaboration among employees,” explained Wu.

“When there is trust, it generates a positive 'Energy' that enables individuals to go the extra mile and unleash their creativity. This energy can also develop a resilient capacity within individuals to face unexpected obstacles and maintain a high 'Adversity' quotient. In the 'Moment' of connection and through favourable memories, employees will be reenergised and find inspiration to overcome new challenges.”

Lenovo Hong Kong

Having employees from Lenovo Hong Kong and Lenovo PCCW Solutions (LPS) join together for the first time, the global technology company organised its annual party in Hong Kong this February. Hosted at one of the city’s most iconic places, M+, it was a vibrant cocktail-style affair filled with busking performances, photo booths for capturing memories, lively dancing, and even a celebrity performance.

“That was an incredible party where creativity, success, and the unique bond with the Hong Kong market were celebrated in style,” shared Bella Chan, HR Director, Greater Asia Pacific, Lenovo.

“A huge thank you to our organising committee for making this event a night to remember. From conceptual ideas to a good show, it truly showcased the power of teamwork. It demonstrated what we can accomplish when we come together with a shared vision and a collaborative spirit, enabling us to ‘Win as One’ which is the theme of the event. The dedication and creativity of the people have truly shone through, reflecting the innovative spirit of Lenovo Hong Kong.”

Beyond an annual party, the company has also put many different strategies and initiatives in place to cultivate a great employee experience, foster a positive work culture, boost employee satisfaction, and drive performance.

For example, as Lenovo firmly believes in investing in employees’ professional and personal growth, there are learning initiatives to enhance employees’ skills and knowledge to support their long-term success. The company also prioritises a healthy work-life balance for its people by implementing various initiatives, including hybrid work arrangements, wellness talks, mediation sessions, private workout classes, Saturday running classes, basketball teams, soccer teams, etc., to promote employees’ physical and mental wellbeing. In addition, an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) offers confidential counselling services and resources for supporting employees facing personal challenges.

Among these strategies and initiatives, employee rewards and recognition play a pivotal role in engaging employees and fostering a positive work environment.

In Lenovo, there are performance-based incentive programmes for sales and non-sales employees, who are rewarded in monetary and non-monetary forms for their exceptional contributions and achievements, aligning their efforts with the company’s mission. The company has also established peer-to-peer and cross-team appreciation programmes to foster a culture of appreciation and express gratitude and appreciation for employees’ hard work and dedication.

“When employees feel their efforts and contributions are valued and acknowledged, it boosts their morale and enhances their motivation to perform at their best. This also cultivates a strong sense of accomplishment and satisfaction which fuels their drive to excel,” explained Chan.

“The rewards and recognition programme also contributes to the successful talent retention strategy. It creates a positive emotional connection between employees and their work, fostering loyalty and improving attrition. It also reinforces the culture and the desired competencies of the company, where the cultural values are used for the reward criteria. This encourages employees to consistently exhibit those cultural values, which leads to improved performance and alignment with organisational goals.”

To effectively attract and retain talent, especially in today's diverse workforce across different generations, Chan believes it is vital to understand and address the unique needs and expectations of each generation.

“Firstly, fostering an inclusive and diverse workplace is a priority in attracting and retaining talent from diverse generations,” she said. “It is crucial to emphasise the significance of diversity, equity, and inclusion, integrating these values into our policies and programmes. This approach will create a sense of belonging for employees across all generations, ensuring that their perspectives and contributions are valued and respected.”

Furthermore, in the AI era, Chan highlighted that organisations must wholeheartedly embrace technology and innovation as younger generations anticipate a tech-savvy work environment that allows them to effectively leverage their digital skills.

“Demonstrating our commitment to staying at the forefront of technological advancements and providing the necessary tools and resources will help us appeal to this tech-savvy generation,” elaborated Chan.

“Our digital and intelligent transformation strategy has long been a key focus in Lenovo. We have a strong ecosystem and partnerships, capturing the exponential growth from AI, and have the plan to invest a further US$1bn over the next three years in AI-driven innovation. By showcasing how the organisation is utilising AI to drive innovation, enhance productivity, and solve complex challenges, we can attract individuals who are eager to be part of cutting-edge advancements and contribute to the transformative power of AI.”

ALSO READ: How companies in Hong Kong celebrate Chinese New Year

All photos / Provided

Follow us on Telegram and on Instagram @humanresourcesonline for all the latest HR and manpower news from around the region!

Free newsletter

Get the daily lowdown on Asia's top Human Resources stories.

We break down the big and messy topics of the day so you're updated on the most important developments in Asia's Human Resources development – for free.

subscribe now open in new window