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One of the biggest news items in global job markets in the past few months was HSBC’s decision to freeze pay for staff across all rankings.

The announcement made a few days before the Chinese New Year leaving many staff angry and shocked.

Hang Seng Bank, a subsidiary of HSBC, which employs 8500 people in Hong Kong, was exceptionally offended by the arrangement. Staff were expecting a reward after a positive year, but were instead hit with a pay freeze.

To express their anger, staff started a work-to-rule action which meant leaving work at 5:55 pm. It was unknown how many Hang Seng staff participated in the movement, but definitely quite a drastic action as “leaving the office on time” is no longer a norm for HongKongers.

If stopping work on time is today construed as a ‘punishment’ of sorts for bosses, it’s easy to say that the concept of a work-life balance, clearly, does not exist anymore.

In a previous survey, local workers had complained a heavy workload is keeping them in the office, while bosses blamed the overtime work on employees idling during office hours.

The pressing issue here is not to find out who is telling the truth – but rather, the lack of communication between staff and management.

ALSO READ: HSBC will not be freezing salaries after all

HR, which acts as a bridge between the two, needs to look into the situation by collecting opinions from both sides to create policies which satisfy the needs of the two parties.

Research has shown time and again that keeping staff in the office for extended periods hurts productivity and thankfully, many informed bosses do understand this and want to prevent staff from working overtime.

The role of HR is to effectively communicate the bosses’ thinking to staff and inform bosses on staff’s opinion on overtime work.

With a constant two-way communication going on between the two parties, an ideal compromise will be made.

It is a known fact that in some organisations, there is a sub-culture of staff being considered less committed if they leave earlier than their boss.

Well, for these organisations, you need to be looking at how things should be done these days.

Image: Shutterstock

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Anthony Wong

Human Resources Magazine Hong Kong
Anthony Wong oversees the editorial content for Human Resources in Hong Kong for print, online and social media. He is responsible for reporting and analysing the most relevant HR trends in Hong Kong as well as growing Human Resources readership in Hong Kong through online and print product and industry events, conferences and award ceremonies. Prior to joining Lighthouse Independent Media in July 2015, Wong spent seven years as a senior reporter in South China Morning Post specialising in reports on the local job market and education industry.

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