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What HR should prioritise in 2020

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Strong corporate culture is beneficial to companies in the era of high turnover, with 81% of employees ranking that as the 4th most important factor out of 28 when deciding whether to join or stay at a company. Meanwhile, Generation Z placed corporate culture on a par with salary.

However, Deacons’ inaugural Empowering the Workplace report 2020 — surveying more than 1000 working professionals and 100 senior in-house human resources and legal managers in Hong Kong — has revealed significant discrepancy with corporate culture standards between employers and employees.

A total of 66% of companies surveyed believe their corporate culture is ‘strong’ or ‘very strong’, while more than two-thirds of employees in Hong Kong do not have a favourable view of the corporate culture of their employer, with one-third describing it as ‘weak’ or ‘very weak’.

Both companies’ and employees’ perceptions were when ‘collaborative’ (53% vs 50%), ‘goals orientated’ (37% vs 32%) factors were measured. But there was a significant discrepancy on the perception of the corporate culture as ‘like an extended family’ (19% vs 32%).

The two other top five desirable factors on employees’ wish list for corporate culture were ‘supportive’ (39%) and ‘dynamic’.

Less than one-tenth of employees say company culture should be ‘hierarchical’ or ‘conservative/traditional’ — which are prevalent in employers’ narrative on current corporate culture the report stated.

When it comes to the responsibility of setting corporate culture, both employers and employees agree senior management should lead by example. Although companies rank HR in second place, employees put HR as the fifth, with close to 60% believing all staff should be involved in setting corporate culture.

As for HR themselves, even though they feel they hold an important role in setting corporate culture, only one in five believe they are responsible for protecting it.


Looking at what changes companies should prioritise in the next 12-24 months, employees highlighted improving health and safety (16%), introducing equal pay (16%), reducing working hours (12%), and improving insurance and wellness packages (9%).  Generation Z felt particularly strongly about introducing equal pay, with one in four ranking it the top priority.

On what initiatives could be implemented by Hong Kong’s Labour Department in the next three years, employees proposed standardising working hours (48%), increasing the minimum wage (41%) and introducing a statutory right to request flexible working (40%).

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