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Why Gen Z, mental health, flexible working are the top priorities for HR executives in 2020


Over the past decade, whether the biggest issue boils down to digital disruption or global economic turmoil, talent attraction and retention have always been on front of mind for HR.

As revealed in our previous article "How much do you make?” goes mainstream, and 9 more talent trends to watch in 2020", 'career nomads' – high-performing, talented professionals who switch jobs, organisations and even careers at a faster rate than others – are becoming the norm in companies today. So reevaluating your talent strategy will be more important than ever.

Nancy Yip, area director for IWG Hong Kong, shares key talent trends HR executives should pay attention to in 2020:

Generation Z joins the workforce

This year also saw Generation Z, those who are born in the mid- to late-1990s, enter the workforce for the first time. They are known as the first fully digital generation, with studies showing that 60% of this generation prefer to learn through YouTube tutorials and videos. This presents a new challenge for HR, who will need to adapt existing training to incorporate more visual methods to engage with these social media natives. 

Generation Z have different outlooks and ideals to their predecessors. A recent Deloitte report stated that this generation also places more emphasis on diversity, and particularly LGBT identity and religion, than their elders. According to recruitment agency BGC Group, safe spaces, lifestyle benefits and personal space are some of the top considerations for Hong Kong’s Generation Z employees when choosing jobs. Businesses can no longer rely on a favourable reputation and social responsibility alone but need to demonstrate equality and care for their workforce to attract the top Gen Z talent. 

Minds matter

A recent Levell study found that 60% of workers experience performance drops as a result of chronic stress and burnout in the workplace, whilst Kronos research shows that 95% of HR leaders think that stress is “sabotaging workforce retention”. Workplace mental health and stress issues are commonplace in Hong Kong. According to the 2018 City Mental Health Alliance survey, 35% professional workers in Hong Kong admitted that they have faced mental health problems due to work, with symptoms such as feeling depressed and having difficulty sleeping.

So how do businesses tackle burnout and re-engage employees? One method that has gained attention is practising mindfulness at work, with firms like McKinsey, Nike, Google and Apple all implementing programmes ranging from meditation to courses of cognitive behavioural training. These techniques can refocus and relax employees, with neurological studies showing that meditation can increase the areas of the brain that can regulate emotion, improve attention span, increase job performance and productivity as well as improving job satisfaction at work. 

‘9-to-6 work week’ will be a relic of the past

According to the IWG 2019 Global Workspace Survey, an overwhelming 82% of APAC workers would turn down a job that didn’t offer flexible working over those that do. 62% of businesses worldwide and 52% in APAC now offering a flexible working policy.

Rapid technological advancements and the growing globalisation of the workplace have enabled this movement to expand. Flexible working embraces employees’ differences and allows them the freedom to work in a way that suits them, from starting earlier or later, to working from outside of the office. When firms allow their people more autonomy over their working day it increases employee satisfaction, workforce retention, loyalty and wellbeing. 

Flexible working policies benefit employers as well, with the IWG global workspace survey finding that most business leaders believe these policies improve workplace efficiency, with over two-thirds claiming they increase productivity by 20% or more both globally and in APAC. Not only this, but employees that take advantage of flexible working policies are shown to be absent less often, as they are able to adjust their work schedule in line with their life outside of work.  Giving employees the chance to work from flexible workspaces has been shown to increase productivity, with 54% of employees saying that remote working enables them to get more done. IWG’s survey also revealed that 63% of people in APAC believe that being able to tailor their work environment makes them more productive. A win-win opportunity for organisations in 2020. 

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