BRITAIN IN HONG KONG BRITISH CHAMBER MAGAZINE
EMPLOYEE WELLNESS NOV-DEC 2021 • ISSUE 75
C O N T E N T S 03 CHAIRMAN'S MESSAGE a letter from the Chamber Chairman to share updates on the Chamber's activities over the past two months
05 MENTAL WELLNESS AND THE WORKPLACE – WHAT CAN AND SHOULD EMPLOYERS BE DOING? Matthew Durham - Registered Foreign Lawyer, Gall Kritika Sethia - Associate, Gall
13 A DELICATE WORK-LIFE BALANCING ACT CLP Innofinity
16 ENGAGING NEXT-GEN EMPLOYEES OVER VIRTUAL SPACE
Jack Cheung, Cofounder & Director of App Bar
RESPONDING POSITIVELY TO INCREASING DEMANDS FOR SUSTAINABLE INVESTMENT Maria McDermott, Business Development – Asia, Jersey Finance
21 DESIGNING BETTER ONLINE PLATFORMS FOR THE GIG ECONOMY By China Business Knowledge@CUHK
23 SHAPING THE HYBRID WORKPLACE OF TOMORROW, TODAY Dr. Nicola J. Millard, Principal Innovation Partner, BT
25 SPARK: CREATING CONNECTIONS ACROSS CULTURES
28 THE GREAT RESIGNATION IS COMING: WILL WELLBEING SAVE YOUR BUSINESS? Victoria Coplans Hope, CEO Hope Communications
Jeff Streeter, Director, British Council in Hong Kong.
CHAIRMAN'S MESSAGE Dear Members By the time we publish this month’s BritCham magazine world leaders will be gathered in Glasgow for the 26th Conference of Parties to negotiate the critical actions needed in the fight against climate change. The decisions made in Glasgow could not be more serious for our planet. At BritCham we have made our small contribution, together with the British Consulate and the DIT, by running a series of climate change events throughout the year under the banner of the importance of the forthcoming COP26. The series culminated in a half-day event on Green Finance on 27th October where we had some formidable contributions. This was not just another Hong Kong green finance event. Mark Carney, former Governor of the Bank of England and now UN Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance, recorded a special broadcast for the Chamber. This was not a generic contribution but had been crafted specifically for the Hong Kong audience. It evidenced for me the role that is expected of Hong Kong as an International Finance Centre in the promotion and execution of green finance. I urge all of you to watch this ten-minute broadcast which is accessible through this link https://bit.ly/3GMmVIP. The Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman William Russell, also made a contribution focussing on the links between Hong Kong and London and how we might better connect these two great financial centres to broaden and develop green finance. Chris Hui, Secretary for Financial Services & the Treasury Bureau conducted a fireside chat with our Executive Director, David Graham, and we concluded with an excellent panel of green finance experts in both Hong Kong and London. The high-profile nature of all these contributors shows the value of the Chamber. It also demonstrates the expectation that we should be part of the dialogue on these matters. If the actions on climate change sometimes feel like holding up a “Stop/Go” sign in the face of a herd of
rampaging buffaloes now is the time for us all to make our contribution. I would encourage you all to join in as we develop our programme of events and advocacy post COP26. If ever we had the proof closer to home of the significance of the Glasgow decisions it was the advent of not one but two “Typhoon Eights” in the space of five days at the beginning of October. October is supposed to be the month when the weather in Hong Kong turns more benign and we can plan junk trips and hiking days. Instead, we were forced to tape up the windows, work from home and binge watch Squid Game. The Chief Executive’s Policy Address was also delivered in early October, just about avoiding the first typhoon, and made frequent reference to Hong Kong’s climate change commitments. Two days later an equally important document was produced by the Environment Secretary setting out how Hong Kong would achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Entitled the “Carbon Action Plan”, this document focuses on four major decarbonisation strategies: -Net-zero electricity generation; -Energy saving and green buildings; -Green transport; and -Waste reduction. The Policy Address itself was a substantial document and felt to me to be a real turning point in Hong Kong policymaking. The title this year is “Building a Bright Future Together” which echoes the title of the BritCham submission “Building Back Better”. The theme of “building” is both literal and metaphorical. The number of initiatives for Hong Kong’s infrastructure and construction are very real and there will be many opportunities for our members to develop their own businesses and make a substantial contribution to this programme. The Northern Metropolis proposal represents the first new town initiative for some years and will go some way to address the housing issues in the SAR with over 300 sq km of land dedicated to the project. And the expansion of Hong Kong’s Innovation & Technology capabilities to link up with expertise across the border in Shenzhen is a bold vision. Some of this vision was also laid out in a breakfast presentation from Albert Wong - the CEO of the Hong Kong Science & Technology Park - who explained how the Lok Ma Chau loop at the border with Shenzhen is intended Britain in Hong Kong
to create a more seamless integration for the ShenzhenHong Kong IT Co-operation zone across 540 hectares. As they do every year, the BritCham Executive Team has carefully compared the initiatives of the Policy Address with our own submission and you can find a copy of this piece of work through the following link https://bit.ly/2ZLY2vM. Whilst we had not proposed the Northern Metropolis vision we had covered the salient points of the Address and shows to me that we were “on the button”. I was also invited to join Jim Gould as co-host on the Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) special policy address session where we interviewed the Chief Executive. You can listen to the recording here: https://lnkd.in/g9prGQ4G.
It is clear to me, from both these meetings, that British businesses and BritCham itself are highly valued in the community and that we are seen as making a positive contribution for good. There is lots to look forward to in the coming months and years. Of course, we need to see the COVID restrictions ease both for mainland and international travel. And I know how frustrating these are for many of us – both personally and professionally. But Hong Kong has reported YoY GDP growth of 5.4% and YoY merchandise export growth of 16.5% for the third quarter. Unemployment now stands at 4.5%. Imagine the potential that will be unleashed when we have fully functioning and open borders. Carpe Diem !
Since my last Message to Members, in the September Magazine, the Chamber has also held its AGM. Our new General Committee is a powerful group of BritCham members and combined with the Chairs of the SubCommittees I am very excited for the future of the Chamber. I was pleased also to welcome James Turner from Prudential as an additional Vice Chair, alongside Anne Kerr of Mott Macdonald and Jeremy Sheldon of JLL. Together with Paul McSheaffrey as Treasurer and myself as Chairman these are the officers of the Chamber until our next AGM. If you would like to read my AGM address you can find this in the following link https://bit.ly/3nXKEwR.
Peter Burnett Chairman, The British Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong
The new British Consul General, Brian Davidson CMG, is now fully installed in Hong Kong and we were honoured to host an event with him in October. Brian has made it very clear that he wants to work closely with the Chamber to further our mutual business interests and sees the relationship between the BCG and the BCC as an active and mutually supportive one. I look forward to working with Brian and his team at the Consulate and I hope we can host more events with him and the team in the future. In mid-October, the Executive Director and I were invited to a lunch with the new Commissioner, Liu Guangyuan, at the mainland Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We were joined by representatives from about five additional Chambers. This was a clear and deliberate outreach to the international business community to acknowledge the contribution that we make in Hong Kong and encourage us to think expansively in Hong Kong and in the mainland, specifically the GBA. BritCham was also asked to make a speech at this lunch. Later that week we received a request from the China Liaison Office to meet and to discuss the landscape for business in Hong Kong. 04
MENTAL WELLNESS AND THE WORKPLACE – WHAT CAN AND SHOULD EMPLOYERS BE DOING?
AUTHORS Matthew Durham - Registered Foreign Lawyer, Gall Kritika Sethia - Associate, Gall
Britain in Hong Kong
Setting the scene The World Health Organisation (“WHO”) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of infirmity”. However, in Hong Kong and globally, mental health and wellbeing remains significantly misunderstood and not properly equated, either in prevention or treatment, to physical illness. Mental health issues can arise from a wide variety of individual and combined factors, including workplace stress and an unhealthy working culture.
The mental health charity MindHK reports that anxiety and depressive disorders are prevalent with 1 in 7 people in Hong Kong experiencing a common mental disorder at any given time, yet 75% of mental health sufferers do not seek any form of professional help. Workplace stress, conflict, low job security and lack of physical and mental space are all cited as work-related factors that contribute to poor mental health. Hong Kong is thought to be possibly the most overworked city in the world with the largest number of full-time employees who work more than 48 hours per week and was ranked 45th out of 50 countries in a survey of work-life balance. Mental health conditions have a significant impact on employee productivity and absences.
A recent WHO-led study estimates that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion each year in lost productivity.
Mental health concerns have been further exacerbated by the uncertainty thrown up by the COVID-19 pandemic. Aside from the fear of contracting the virus, anxiety and stress have been heightened by loss of business, risk of unemployment, shifting work patterns, work-from-home, isolation from family, friends, and colleagues, lack of physical exercise and travel, and the pressures of homeschooling children. A 2020 survey by the City Mental Health Alliance Hong Kong suggests that 1 in 4 employees in the Asia-Pacific region reported experiencing mental health problems within the past 12 months. One possible silver lining from the pandemic is an increasing willingness of individuals to talk about mental wellbeing and of businesses to acknowledge and seek to dd
address these issues in the work environment. Against this background, this article discusses what employers must, can and should do with regard to mental health issues.
The legal framework in Hong Kong Despite the culture of long working hours and an undercurrent of concerns, Hong Kong lacks a comprehensive or holistic legal framework to address mental health issues in the workplace. At present, employers have few express obligations with regard to the mental health of their employees and the relevant legislation is quite disparate. Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance Employers in Hong Kong are under a statutory duty pursuant to section 6 of the Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance (Cap. 509) (“OSHO”) to ensure the safety and health of all employees as far as reasonably practicable. Employees also have a corresponding statutory duty to co-operate with the employer in this regard. However, the OSHO does not provide for a specific obligation in relation to the mental health of employees which often leaves mental health on the fringes when workplace health and safety are considered. Common law duty to take reasonable care Under common law, employers have a duty to take reasonable care and may be held liable for negligence if they fail to do so. Although we are yet to see a case in Hong Kong where an employee successfully claims compensation for psychiatric injury caused by work related conditions, developments in other jurisdictions are significant in this regard, especially now that mental wellbeing is more on the radar.
In Barber v Somerset County Council,  UKHL 13, an employee was awarded damages after suffering a work-related stress breakdown. In holding the school liable for the breach of the duty of care, the House of Lords noted that “the senior management team should have made enquiries about his problems and seen what they could do to ease them” given that the reason for the employee’s absence as certified by the doctor was stress and depression. The House of Lords did not accept that termination or resignation were the only options. Rather, the senior management could have taken steps to make sympathetic enquires and reduction of the employee’s workload. In Olulana v Southwark LBC,  EWHC 2707 (QB), the Court opined that a reasonable employer is expected to act in light of what they knew or ought to have known about the employee’s conditions. This is significant although in this case the employee was unsuccessful in proving that work related stress was a causative factor for her neurobiological condition or that the employer was, or should have been, aware of the condition. In Australia, in order to be eligible for compensation for psychiatric injury, the work-related factors are required to be the most significant causative factor. This means that that an employer will not be liable and an employee will not obtain damages in connection with a mental health condition, unless the employee can clearly show that work-related stress is a causative factor in psychiatric illness suffered by the employee and that the situation was brought to the attention of the employer or was foreseeable in the circumstances. The risk to employers of such claims is therefore low, which in itself does not provide a driver to address mental health conditions, even if there are multiple other reasons for doing so (as discussed below). Nevertheless, employers in Hong Kong should consider whether a pattern of taking sick leave, for example, suggests a mental health issue, as well as the reputational risk of associated with such claims and their handling.
Employees’ Compensation Ordinance There is also little or no recourse for employees under the statutory framework for work related injury, which is governed by the Employees' Compensation Ordinance (Cap. 282) (“ECO”). In order to claim compensation under the no-fault mechanism of the ECO, an employee is required to have suffered “injury by accident” arising out of employment and in the course of employment. The “accident” must be an identifiable event or events. A continuous process does not qualify as an accident. Crucially, the list of illnesses which are deemed to be accidents does not include mental illnesses. Under the ECO, the burden of proof lies with the claimant. Accordingly, unless the claimant successfully proves that the mental illness is a consequence of an accident, it will not be possible to obtain compensation under the ECO. Sick leave and sickness allowance Statutory sick leave allowance and prohibition of termination when an employee is on sick leave provide some limited and temporary protection to employees facing mental health issues. Under the Employment Ordinance (Cap. 57) (“EO”), individuals under a continuous contract of employment are entitled to sickness allowance provided they have accumulated sick leave days (i.e., 2 days per month for the first 12 months and 4 days per month thereafter up to a maximum of 120 days), and they take sick leave for four or more consecutive days supported by a medical certificate in the required form. During the time an employee is on statutory sick leave, it will amount to a criminal offence if any employer terminates the employment contract (except for summary dismissal) on a paid sickness day. This protection extends to circumstances when an employee is on sick leave due to psychiatric illness (such as depression and anxiety). In addition, employers may also have additional contractual benefits and entitlements over and above the statutory protection. The number of sick days taken due to stress and anxiety and the corresponding loss of productivity ultimately is a huge cost for companies and a key reason for trying to address mental health concerns within the workforce.
Anti-discrimination laws It is also worth noting anti-discrimination laws which seek to prohibit less favourable treatment to persons (including employees) with protected characteristics. The definition of disability under the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 487) (“DDO”) wide enough to include mental illnesses. The DDO renders the following unlawful: discrimination; harassment; vilification; and victimisation on the ground of disability. It is also unlawful for an employer to dismiss an employee on the ground of mental illness. Under the DDO, so long as an employee can perform the inherent requirements of a job, the employer is prohibited from terminating the employment on the ground of the disability. An employer may also be held vicariously liable for the acts of its employees unless the employer can demonstrate that reasonably practicable measures were taken to prevent such acts. Discrimination laws are another reason for employers to be aware of and to educate their emplyees in relation to mental illness. Recent legal amendments The recent amendments in relation to maternity leave and breastfeeding discrimination are seen as being a positive development in the context of employee wellness and inclusion.
The EO was amended with effect from 11 December 2020 (the “Amendment Date”) to increase statutory maternity leave from 10 weeks to 14 weeks for female employees. The period in which a male employee is able to take paternity leave has also increased from a 10-week period to a 14-week period. Given that time off work and flexibility are frequently cited as important factors in a balanced working environment, these changes seem to be a step in the right direction. Similarly, the amendment to the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 480) prohibits discrimination and harassment against women who are breastfeeding. While this falls short of expressly requiring employers to provide a specific facility or separate space to relevant employees, it shows recognition of a sensitive issue which can cause anxiety and influence new mothers as to their return to work. Overall, there are very few legal obligations on employers with regard to mental wellness and correspondingly few avenues for employees to seek redress for mental DDDDD
conditions caused or exacerbated by working conditions. However, awareness of the importance of mental wellbeing is growing and there is an increasing willingness to speak about this, driven at least in in part by the public revelations of well-known sports personalities regarding their challenges.
Practical steps and initiatives for employers to promote mental wellness A Cigna 360 Well-Being Survey published in June 2021 found that 83% of people reported being stressed, with 13% experiencing unmanageable stress. Employee productivity is now often viewed as directly proportional to employee mental health and wellbeing. Data also suggests that lack of productivity can broken down by factors such as individuals feeling emotionally exhausted, having trouble concentrating, taking longer to finish tasks and struggling to juggle responsibilities. Aside from productivity, mental wellbeing affects retention rates for existing staff and the ability to attract new talent. Leadership roles and the power of empathy Studies have also shown that empathetic leadership is effective in boosting employee morale and productivity. So, it seems appropriate that management should take the lead in considering the challenges and promoting change. If bosses add these issues to the agenda at a board room level it is far more likely to result in policies, procedures and initiatives being introduced into companies. Similarly, if leadership are open about discussing mental health, including by telling their own stories, it is more likely that other employees will feel able to overcome the apparent stigma of talking and feel more confident in seeking help and support when they feel they need it. New initiatives There is no one-size-fits-all solution to mental wellbeing and employers will need to assess what is most appropriate for their business, but companies are starting to bring in new employee assistance programmes and initiatives. Specific examples include: In-house psychologist / coach: Companies are increasingly engaging on-site professionals with whom their employees can discuss mental health issues. It is important to emphasize that information shared in sessions is confidential and to arrange discreet locations and appointment times for sessions to maintain privacy. Feedback suggests that the take-up rate for such resources is extremely high. Britain in Hong Kong
Relaxation spaces: Some businesses are providing spaces at work for employees to rest, relax or meditate. This may include comfortable chairs or day-beds for taking naps, quiet rooms for meditation, turning the lights down during a lunchbreak or rest period and similar initiatives to allow employees to take a break, breathe and de-stress. Training courses: Mental health first aid courses are now being rolled out by companies to help individuals learn how to deal with issues they face, as well as to teach designated teams and managers how to identify issues within the workforce. Such initiatives are particularly welcome given that the cost of private external resources is often high for individuals. Medical insurance: Another trend is for employers to look at whether the healthcare and medical insurance they provide to employees covers mental health issues as part of the package. This is another avenue which potentially allows individuals to seek and afford help when they need it. Work from home and flexible working COVID-19 dictated work from home arrangements around the world, but many indicators suggest the increasing importance of flexibility for employees. DDDD
The EY 2021 Work Reimagined Employee Survey revealed that 9 out of 10 employees seek some flexibility in when they work and where they work. Even in Hong Kong, where more compact living conditions mean that many people like going to a physical office space, there is a trend towards more flexible working arrangements. Whether working from home is imposed by circumstances or introduced as a new working model, employers need to remain alert to the potential impact on mental wellbeing. Isolation: During the pandemic many individuals have struggled with isolation and lack of human connectivity. For this reason, it makes sense to structure arrangements which accommodate flexibility of working times and location, but which include some office time or in person collaboration to build connections and boost collective creativity. During lockdown periods some companies have used online recreational activities or “socials”, buddy programmes and training and upskilling courses to maintain a sense of community and connectivity.
Inability to disconnect: Conversely, the lines between professional and personal spaces become blurred during work from home which increases the likelihood of burnout. Some employees have complained of not being able to switch off, especially when working across international time zones. It is important to consider whether specific working hours should be applied. Some companies have even implemented systems which prevent employees from receiving and/or sending emails after certain times of day. Technology: Providing employees with laptops, software and other equipment which allows them to work flexibly is viewed extremely favourably. The availability of IT support is also important. Similarly, it makes sense to assist staff with guidelines and assistance to set up a home workspace so that this is as efficient, functional and safe as possible. Zoom fatigue: Online platforms for meetings have proved hugely efficient and effective during the pandemic, but this does result in a high level of screen time. To alleviate this, some businesses have implemented “no meetings days” or similar initiatives to guard against excessive screen time. Engagement and team spirit: The value of an office environment and interactions such as “water-cooler conversations” and coffee breaks are often underestimated in terms of connectivity and building employee morale. Aside from online team meetings, buddy chats and socials, some organisations have introduced AI chatbots and other online platforms which can help to provide psychological support and assess mental wellbeing. Other small gestures such as sending a plant or other small gifts can help to engage and encourage staff working remotely for long periods. Encouraging employees to take annual leave Severe and sustained travel restrictions coupled with unpredictability and constantly changing travel rules overseas have resulted in many employees not taking regular annual leave and thus having significant accrued but untaken entitlements.
One of the underlying purposes of annual leave and a primary reason for having minimum thresholds of statutory annual leave is to promote and maintain employees’ physical and mental wellbeing, as well as to allow time with family and on external pursuits. Britain in Hong Kong
Employees should be encouraged to take their leave regularly and to take time out from work. It is worth emphasizing and educating employees of the health and wellbeing benefits of this. Some companies are also considering policies to allow employees to travel outside Hong Kong and work from quarantine on return to alleviate the sense of “cabin fever” from not having left Hong Kong during the pandemic.
transparently about the issues and introduce policies and practices to avoid employee burnout and to identify and support employees facing difficulties. While the law currently does not provide significant or clear obligations for employers in this area, companies that do actively address mental health will find that this brings clear benefits in terms of engagement, productivity, staff retention, attracting talent and brand reputation.
Attracting new hires
About Gall: Gall is a leading independent Hong Kong law firm focusing primarily on dispute resolution. We specialise in handling highly complex disputes, many of which involve multijurisdictional litigation.
The amount of annual leave offered by an employer can also be a key consideration (which may even rival remuneration in importance) for potential hires when weighing up offers from rival companies. Similarly, employees are increasingly researching company values and flexibility of working arrangements when looking at career moves. Employee stories on websites and online ratings are proving to be great influencers. Much of this is focused on achieving work-life balance and preserving mental wellbeing. And finally Mental wellness in the workplace is more of a challenge and more important than ever in these disrupted and turbulent times. Employers need to be prepared to talk DDD
Our partners all come from international firms and have practiced in Hong Kong or overseas for many years. They have a wealth of experience in a wide variety of litigation, mediation and arbitration. We use a partner led, teambased approach to complex litigation, drawing upon the legal and linguistic skills of solicitors with different areas of expertise. We ensure that we maintain an “around-theclock” service to our clients.
Christmas Countdown 2021 SAVE THE DATE THURSDAY 2 DECEMBER 7:00-9:30PM
A DELICATE WORK-LIFE BALANCING ACT
Companies worldwide are more focused than ever on the mental health and holistic wellbeing of their workforce. But reaping the benefits of workplace wellness requires effort and commitment from both employers and employees. Successful businesses employees.
We spend an average of 50 hours a week at work, so it’s natural that we want to spend that time in an environment where we feel comfortable, valued, and cared for. If work is pure stress, it can cause us severe problems, both mentally and physically. Being under excessive pressure at work can impact our performance negatively, leading to fatigue, anxiety, and time away. Inevitably, these symptoms have become more prominent as a result of COVID-19. As we grapple with the pandemic and its fallout, it is more important than ever for employers and employees to find new ways to work and interact with each other while taking better care of everyone’s health and wellbeing. Look after yourself and others Adjusting to new ways of work such as flexible and d
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
remote working and the use of satellite offices can have an impact on our wellbeing. However, we can all cultivate wellness by developing better habits. It is important to create and maintain a regular schedule, for instance, with periodic breaks for recharging. This is to avoid unconsciously working longer hours and never fully switching off, which opens the door for burnouts. For employees working from home, these tips may help make the experience smarter. Don’t be afraid to talk about your fears and concerns with people you trust: The chances are they may feel the same way too. As we practice social distancing, beware of social isolation and make time to stay connected to your support network. Keep your immune system strong by prioritising personal hygiene and limiting physical contact with other people. Integrating physical and mindfulness activities into your working day eases pressure and increases the production of endorphins. If circumstances allow, go outside for a brisk walk and some fresh air. If you’re a manager, remember you are the first point of contact for many employees and have an important role in their wellbeing. Check in regularly with employees and be available for them, while ddd
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watching out for signs of distress and fatigue. You should also encourage employees to sharpen their skills with online training, which serves as a good distraction by focusing on learning rather than problematic work issues. The steps outlined above have implications for the way in which companies can support employees and help them to maintain their health and wellbeing.
Returning to the office To help employees gradually return to the workplace, companies should communicate new guidelines and protocols effectively, a study by research p organisation the Conference Board suggests.
Tracking employees’ wellbeing Companies should review their wellbeing strategies and expand assistance programmes to ensure employees have full access to the support and practical resources they need. For example, Starbucks is offering 20 free therapy sessions to each of its employees in the United States. For its part, CLP launched the Virgin Pulse Digital Health and Wellbeing app and fitness device in January. This helps employees develop and track healthier habits that best suit them, which in turn boost their mental wellness and productivity. “We have seen more than 50% enrolment,” says Fraser Moore, CLP Health and Wellbeing Manager – Group HSE. “It is clear that our colleagues want to learn about all areas of wellness, such as getting active, managing stress, and including wellbeing in their daily routines to support their work-life balance.” Caption (top right): CLP employees can connect a fitness tracker (bottom left) to the Virgin Pulse Digital Health and Wellbeing platform to track their activities using mobile apps or laptops. Three of the advantages of the Virgin Pulse Digital Health and Wellbeing platform are that it: Allows employees to access four pillars of wellbeing anytime: Physical, mental, social and financial. Supports employee engagement with companywide team challenges, such as the first company-wide step challenge. Encourages employee communication by allowing them to join leader boards, set mini challenges, and start interest groups.
Tesla’s Return to Work Playbook offers clear guidelines on social distancing and workspace norms. CLP provided personal protective equipment and sent caring kits to employees as a great way to start the move back to the office. Technology and workplace design are also vital to prioritise employee health, comfort and safety in the office. Amazon created its own tool, the Distance Assistant, that uses depth sensors and AI-enabled camera to track human movements and gives off a signal when employees are less than 1.8 metres from each other. With health and wellness becoming a priority worldwide, companies are rapidly upgrading measures to help and safeguard their employees. During and after the pandemic, employees should develop better habits to cultivate wellness, and companies should create customised solutions to support employee wellbeing for the good of everyone. CLP Innofinity is a content hub filled with inspiring articles and opinion pieces discussing breakthroughs in innovation and sustainability. The platform is brought to you by the CLP Group, one of the largest investor-owned power businesses in the Asia-Pacific region and a corporate member of the BritCham. Please visit www.clpinnofinity.com or scan the QR code to find out more.
Britain in Hong Kong
ENGAGING NEXTGEN EMPLOYEES OVER VIRTUAL SPACE In 2029, millennials and Gen Z together will make up 72% of the global workforce, surging from 52% in 2019. While millennials have already become the cornerstone of the workforce, many of the Gen Z, loosely defined as those born between 1996 and 2010, have also embarked on their career journey. When the work environment and formation is evolving, how can employers keep the next-gen workforce engaged? Born Digital Nomads As millennials and Gen Z came of age at the same time that online platforms and social media emerged, they are wellversed with technology, yet have a shorter attention span and stronger yearning for instant gratification than their predecessors. As a result, they flavour visual-driven content in small chunks, such as Instagram stories and short video clips.
The behavioural shift pushes employers to change the way they engage employees. Companies now opt for more interactive methods to reach and communicate with their younger teammates. The emphasis is on keeping the employees motivated. Reinvent Communication in Workplace To cope with the surging demand, internal employee’s engagement mobile apps today are transformed to present elevated user experience. In addition to convenience and efficiency, employers also start exploring the possibilities of encouraging internal communication with these apps. While companies find it crucial to take the pulse of employees frequently through surveys and feedback, some struggle with a low participation rate or ‘safe’ answers. Many employees are reluctant to give honest feedback, which is especially true to Asian cultures that value harmony. Although it is not harmful, it can hinder the company from looking into the core of problems and enhancing employee engagement. To tackle the low participation rate, we should go beyond the traditional survey method that promises belated rewards, instead, provide streamlined and prompt positive responses. AIA One, an internal employee’s app for AIA Hong Kong and Macau region, responds to the problem by dispatching rewards like e-coupons instantly to users’ accounts, omitting d  https://www.mmc.com/insights/publications/2020/may/esg-as-aworkforce-strategy.html
the tedious administration process and allowing users to consume rewards right away. Additionally, AIA One incorporates an Instagram-story-like layout with appealing visuals and skimmed texts to promote organisational changes to pinpoint the younger employees’ short attention span. By gamifying the quizzes, surveys and other internal communication materials, employees find these activities more engaging and rewarding and are more likely to participate in learning activities next time voluntarily. As a result, corporate messages are delivered more effectively, keeping employees moving towards the collective goal. It is also noteworthy that the app allows users to give anonymous feedback, building a trust foundation between the senior management and encouraging honest reviews. In the long run, the mechanism facilitates twoway interactions and fosters a more transparent culture where employees are more comfortable and willing to share their opinions. In AIA One’s case, the average response rate of surveys has spiked up to 75% after deployment. Human resources personnel could then transform the collected data into decisions and actions, following up on employees’ reflections. Contrary to the social prejudice, the constantly connected Gen Z employees value human contact. According to Mazars's study, 'human atmosphere’ comes equally important when Gen Z evaluates a potential employer . When the workforce disperses over different regions, company leaders have to spend additional efforts to deliver their care for their teams. For the next-gen employees, it is significant that they are concerned about mental wellbeing on top of physical health. ‘If business leaders want to actively help millennials and Gen Z individuals to thrive at work, they need to prioritise mental health.’ Emma Codd, Deloitte Global Inclusion Leader said .
The gamified process reinforces positive behaviours of employees with timely responses, incentivising constant commitment. Another way round, employers can also benefit from nurturing a team of motivated and energised talents, who are more contented, perform better and stay longer. Redesign Your Strategy As the demographic change of the workforce presents challenges, employers can take advantage of technology and consider gamifying their employee engagement activities, keeping the momentum of tomorrow’s workforce at any distance. Nonetheless, it takes tremendous effort from all parts of the organisation. But for those who make it right, one can harness the creative flair from the young talents to propel the business. Special thanks to Wendy Sin, creator of AIA One, who provided valuable suggestions and ideas regarding AIA One during the development of this editorial.  https://www.mmc.com/insights/publications/2020/may/esg-as-aworkforce-strategy.html  https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/AboutDeloitte/gx-deloitte-2021-mental-health-millennials-white-paper.pdf
Jack Cheung, Cofounder & Director of App Bar
Place Care for Employees at the Centre Limeade Well-Being, a Washington-based corporate wellness digital solution shows how we can put the ideas into practice. Employees can receive personalised health suggestions with diverse assessments. On the other hand, a dashboard conveys insights like the proportion of employees at risk of burnout so managers can care for the disengaged employees and calculate the potential turnover. The built-in communication function further facilitates immediate actions.
About App Bar App Bar delivers creative and technical mobile software solutions to companies from SMEs to international corporates. Our service scope ranges from UI/UX design, gamification, cloud-based solutions and customized website and mobile app developments. Based in Hong Kong, we are looking beyond to visualise the digital visions of organisations across APAC, with a blend of creativity and technology. Find out more at https://www.app-bar.com. Britain in Hong Kong
Responding Positively to Increasing Demands for Sustainable Investment By Maria McDermott, Business Development – Asia, Jersey Finance Sustainable finance has been on a journey of evolution both in Asia and across the globe and, in recent times, a series of factors are combining to fuel faster growth. Informed by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), focus has grown increasingly over a number of years on how re-wiring the financial system can help accelerate solutions to global issues, not only biodiversity loss and climate change, but other complex problems such as inequality and poverty. This shift in thinking is noticeable in the statistics. For instance, between 2016 and 2018 the value of sustainable investment assets managed globally grew 34% to more than US$30 trillion. (Global Sustainable Investment Alliance’s Review 2018). During the last 18 months, the momentum has been further stepped up as a result of both the increasing visible evidence of climate change and especially by the pandemic; a factor which has given governments the difficult task of rebuilding economies while limiting further damage to the planet’s ecosystem. In terms of climate change, the COP26 conference in November may prove to be a pivotal event in tackling the problem.
Mainstream The impact of all these developments is to bring sustainable finance further into the spotlight and move it increasingly into mainstream public consciousness. In relation to sustainability, commentators have suggested COVID-19 has sharpened the focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria and practice within financial services, embedding sustainable finance as a strategic priority, and adding greater sophistication in an area where there is still plenty of scope for progress in terms of weighting across the E, S and G strands, as well as better measurement and evaluation. There is plenty of evidence for this acceleration in ESG investing. According to recent research from Deutchse Bank and GSIA, ESG assets are forecast to exceed US$100 trillion by 2028* and US$150 trillion by 2034, and already one in every three US dollars currently invested takes account of ESG factors (Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment (2020)). Meanwhile, another encouraging statistic has been ddddd Britain in Hong Kong 19
revealed in analysis from S&P Global markets intelligence, which found that during the pandemic, ESG funds were found to have achieved gains of up to 20.1%, outperforming traditional funds. Asian markets are showing intent also. Studies show that the Asian wealth management community, especially the next generation (NextGen), have embraced the move in that direction. In research Jersey Finance conducted last year in association with the Asian financial publisher Hubbis, entitled ‘The Evolution of Wealth Management in the World of Islamic Finance - Views from the Islamic Finance Wealth Management Community’, 69% of respondents indicated that between a quarter and three quarters of the NextGen financial investment portfolios will be centred on ethical, impactful or ESG investments. While within the funds sector, asset managers are increasingly reviewing their products, domiciles and fund administration solutions in line with the critical success factors demanded by sustainable investing. International finance centres International finance centres (IFCs) have a vital role to play in meeting these new objectives, including within Asian markets, provided they respond to the global shift towards a greener, more inclusive economy and they reflect this new ESG thinking. By way of example, Jersey, one of the long established IFCs and one with strong links with Asian investors, has recognised the importance of embedding sustainability into its approach for some time. At a government level, it has taken part in the United Nations ‘United 4 Smart Sustainable Cities’ initiative and is pursuing a carbonneutral strategy. We have responded also as an industry and implemented a new ten-year strategy with the ultimate objective of being recognised by clients, key stakeholders and other partners as the leading sustainable IFC in the markets we serve. Collaboration The intention going forward is to build partnerships with stakeholders, to integrate sustainability across sectors, to enhance collaboration, implement independent performance measurements and to make investment in the depth of skills needed even more of a priority to help in meeting changing investor strategies. Collaboration with government, regulator and other parties will be vital in meeting our ambitions.
For example, as ESG priorities accelerate, investors will have mounting concerns about the dangers of green washing and will want reassurance about how their investments are deployed. Jersey service providers, working with the digital industry, are developing the measurement and analysis tools necessary which will provide investors with the confidence they seek. To further support this new strategic approach, Jersey’s financial regulator, the Jersey Financial Services Commission, recently made changes to a number of its Codes of Practice, with the aim to counteract the potential for greenwashing by supporting sustainable finance through a commercially viable disclosure regime. New landscape The landscape for financial services has been reshaped in this new post-COVID era and there is no turning back. The same is true within Asian economies as it is for those in the West. IFCs, which have often been the preferred location for cross-border investment solutions, will need to be nimble if they are going to meet the challenge. They will need the right frameworks that are committed to the cause of sustainable investments, complemented by the new supporting tools and evaluation services. If they respond accordingly, while also maintaining robust yet flexible regulatory regimes that meet the global standards expected, they can play an important role in channeling funds where they will make a positive difference.
Jersey Finance Jersey Finance is proud to work with key partners to represent and promote Jersey, a forward-thinking international finance centre. We champion the competitive position of Jersey's finance industry, both locally and internationally, supporting the highest regulatory standards and the most attractive products and services to suit the needs of global investors. We have a global presence with offices in Jersey, Dubai, Hong Kong and New York; representation in London, Johannesburg and Shanghai; and a virtual office in Mumbai. For more information, please visit our website www.jerseyfinance.je. Britain in Hong Kong
DESIGNING BETTER ONLINE PLATFORMS FOR THE GIG ECONOMY CUHK research shows price renegotiation function introduced by some online freelance work marketplaces may be misused by dishonest clients and get freelancers stuck in underpaid jobs. By China Business Knowledge@CUHK
The COVID-19 pandemic has provided the perfect backdrop for the thriving freelance job market, a major component of the gig economy. With freelance professionals in high demand, the market for online freelance work platforms is also experiencing a boom. Amidst this increased competition, how can platforms stand out? How can they better serve businesses and freelancers? One thing to avoid, as pointed out by a recent study, is to allow their clients and freelancers to renegotiate the fees for individual projects. The paper Cheap Talk on Freelance Platforms was written by Tony Ke, Associate Professor at the Department of Marketing at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) Business School and PhD candidate Zhu Yuting at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They found that businesses that post jobs may take advantage of the price renegotiation function provided by some freelance work platforms to exploit workers who have less bargaining power. There are quite a number of big-name companies in the gig economy, from home rental platform Airbnb, food delivery companies Deliveroo and Foodpanda, to ride-hailing service provider Uber. On freelance work platforms such as Upwork and TaskRabbit, which are targeted at people who need to hire freelancers to cover jobs such as creative design, ddd
website development, writing and translation, potential employers would post the specific requirements about their requests and describe the types of skills that they are looking for, as well as their preferred level of expertise. However, what’s unique about Upwork and similar platforms is that it allows people who post jobs and freelance workers to renegotiate the price after being matched. Prof. Ke and his co-author say that this particular function, which was originally designed to facilitate in-depth communication about the specifics of the project, can be misused by clients with low budgets to lure highly qualified freelance workers. Pricing Strategies Prof. Ke and his co-author found that when a platform allows the two parties to renegotiate the price after being matched, the people who post jobs and actually have a big enough budget to hire higherquality freelancers tend to be fairly honest in describing the job and then actually going ahead to pay a fee commensurate with their preferred level of skill and expertise. However, clients with a lower budget may make a posting for a project with similar parameters, but after being paired up with a freelancer, they would then seek to bargain for the freelancer to lower their fee while keeping the scope of the projects and skills required the same. The researchers explain that the price renegotiation function makes it difficult for freelancers to distinguish which clients are actually willing to pay a higher fee and which ones are merely bluffing. Second, freelance workers rely on good reputation ratings and their job success rate for future opportunities. Therefore, this makes them likely to accept jobs at a lower price to gain good reviews. Lastly, the study finds that freelancers are reluctant to reject the clients’ renegotiation request because they have spent time and energy to prepare and apply for the job.
Building the Perfect Market Indeed, there is a way to design a perfect freelance platform. The researchers found that the tendency for clients to be dishonest in job postings can be kept to a minimum when postmatch price renegotiations are disallowed. According to the study, both freelancers and clients are more likely to be open and honest in their dealings with each other under a sufficiently large market. This is because when there is sufficient competition among freelancers for jobs, even highly capable freelancers might need to compete for jobs that are paying less. As a result, there is no need for the clients to inflate their preferences for freelancer experience levels to land better quality candidates. Consequently, clients in a large market setting would always be honest as there is no incentive for them to provide false information. This article was adapted from a piece originally published on China Business Knowledge@CUHK. About China Business Knowledge China Business Knowledge is the thought leadership platform of CUHK Business School. Its mission is to help cultivate greater awareness of the latest Chinafocused trends affecting businesses around the world as well as showcasing the capabilities of the school’s globally-ranked academic researchers. For more information, visit: cbk.bschool.cuhk.edu.hk
“Even a handful of dishonest clients on the platform can spark frustrations among freelancers. These unsatisfied workers may either lower the quality of their work or try their luck on other platforms,” says Prof. Ke. “One way of resolving this is by simply taking out the fee negotiation function altogether.” Britain in Hong Kong
SHAPING THE HYBRID WORKPLACE OF TOMORROW, TODAY Dr. Nicola J. Millard, Principal Innovation Partner, BT
The World Economic Forum predicts that, by 2025, work will not be somewhere you go, but something you do . Others have predicted entirely the opposite, as we simply snap back to pre-pandemic ways of working . The truth is probably somewhere in between.
and physical worlds. It’s a style where there’s flexibility in terms of both place and time and where digital platforms come together with leadership, communication, and coordination to create a good employee experience. But to reinvent work, we need to start by reinventing work.
The pandemic normalised remote working for about 25% of the workforce in advanced economies such as the US, UK and Germany. It’s also proved that around 70% of jobs which are mostly computer-based could be done effectively outside the office. This contrasts with less technology-centric, more manual jobs like retail, manufacturing, agriculture, hairdressing and maintenance, where as little as 5 - 10% of work could be done remotely .
Because this is new for many organisations, there will inevitably be many horrible hybrids rearing their ugly heads over the next few years. As Professor Lynda Gratton of London Business School notes: ‘new hybrid arrangements should never replicate existing bad practices.’
All this potentially adds up to a massive increase in the number of people working away from offices than prior to the pandemic and that has an impact on urban economies, housing, transportation systems, and, critically, how we design work itself. We have an opportunity to stop designing work around time and location and start designing it around people and output.
To make sure that we don’t get these horrible hybrids, there are five things we need to think about: Place – defining the role of the office, the home, and (potentially) localised hub/coworking spaces beyond the number of days that you need to be in them Leadership – making sure that leaders have the key networking and coordination skills to manage teams that they may rarely see in person
Rethinking hybrid to fit today’s needs The buzzword of the moment is ‘hybrid’– around 70% of corporates in various recent surveys have stated that they intend to work in a hybrid way postpandemic. Much of the discussion seems to focus on how many days people should be in offices vs. remote. While working in offices might make things easier for contractual purposes, it ends up enforcing a certain pattern of working. So, not actually very flexible after all. And it’s also NOT hybrid. Ideally, hybrid working should combine the best of digital ddd
 Putbauraud, M. (2021), Could ‘hybrid working’ usher in a golden age for workers? WEF, 26th January https://www.weforum.org/ agenda/2021/01/hybrid-workinggolden-age- of-the-worker/  Levy, J. (2021), The hybrid workplace probably won’t last, Boston Globe, 9th May https://www. bostonglobe.com/2021/05/09/opinion/hybrid- workplaceprobably-wont-last/  Hilberath, C. Kilmann, J. Lovich, D. Tzanetti, T. Bailey, A. Beck, S. Kaufman, E. Khandelwal, B. Schuler, F and Woolsey, K. (2020), Hybrid Work Is the New Remote Work, BCG, https://www. bcg.com/en gb/publications/2020/managingremote-work-and-optimizing-hybrid-working-models Britain in Hong Kong
Collaboration and video fatigue – recognising that old, analogue ways of collaboration, particularly meetings, might not be the most productive way of getting things done Time, co-ordination, and productivity – recognising that work isn’t about the nine to five and the office, it’s all about output Well-being and burnout – helping employees to disconnect and navigate between their work life and the rest of their life. Reinvent work by prioritising people One compelling reason to do hybrid work is to improve employee wellbeing but it must be managed so that employees don’t feel the pressure to be always on. Ultimately, what’s good for the employee is likely to be good for the organisation and this should inform decisions about future working policies. We also need to remember that: Work needs to work for people. Technology and place play a critical supporting role but should not lead the charge Hybrid workplaces are likely to be digital by default – it’s about creating a simple, seamless, and secure employee experience that is key Hybrid is a new kind of workplace – experimentation is key to understand what works and what doesn’t for your people and organisation. Some aspects of hybrid working will inevitably fail but learning from failure is key for future success The next big challenge facing businesses is climate change and carbon reduction, so we must reinvent work to be kinder to both people and the planet. Hybrid working won’t be easy. Although it’s underpinned by the collaboration, connectivity, and cloud technologies that we’ve come to rely on during the pandemic, we still need to answer difficult questions about what productive and healthy work looks like when it is untethered from time and space.
We need to stop designing work around location and start designing it around people. We need to develop healthy cultures and different business models to support all this. This is easier said than done. The pandemic has just been the catalyst for this journey into the future world of work. About BT BT Group is the UK's leading telecommunications and network provider and a leading provider of global communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities in the UK include the provision of fixed voice, mobile, broadband and TV (including Sport) and a range of products and services over converged fixed and mobile networks to consumer, business and public sector customers. For its global customers, BT provides managed services, security and network and IT infrastructure services to support their operations all over the world. BT consists of four customerfacing units: Consumer, Enterprise, Global and its whollyowned subsidiary, Openreach, which provides access network services to over 650 communications provider customers who sell phone, broadband and Ethernet services to homes and businesses across the UK. For the year ended 31 March 2021, BT Group's reported revenue was £21,331m with reported profit before taxation of £1,804m. British Telecommunications plc is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange. For more information, visit www.bt.com/about
Image: Sean Sinclair, Alexey Boldin, Carlos David and Alfa27.
SPARK: creating connections across cultures The British Council’s festival of creativity returns online, celebrating inclusion and connections between Hong Kong and the UK.
By Jeff Streeter, Director, British Council in Hong Kong.
After the success of the inaugural SPARK in Tai Kwun in 2019, our British Council SPARK festival of creativity has returned, this time online, celebrating connections and inclusion in our communities and offering a platform for cultural exchange between Hong Kong and the UK across arts, education and the English language. Presenting the best in art, music, dance, education and digital culture from over 40 creative partners from Hong Kong and the UK working together to present more than 30 events, SPARK content premiered over 20-23 October, however much of the programme is still available online for audiences to engage with at www.britishcouncil.hk/spark. A focus on inclusion In the face of the pandemic that has affected cultural and educational exchange around the world for the last 18 months, we decided this edition of SPARK should have a clear focus on inclusion. In one way, this motivation comes very simply from the fact that what we at the British Council call EDI – equality, diversity and inclusion – is at the very heart of what we do as an organisation.
More immediately, it became clear as we began to plan the festival, that the impact of Covid-19 has not fallen evenly upon everybody. Those who were already marginalised in societies around the world have often been the worst affected during the pandemic, including the elderly and people with disabilities. We decided therefore to focus the development of partnerships between Hong Kong and the UK on fostering more inclusive societies. With this in mind, we wanted the programmes to be as accessible and diverse as possible, reaching people of all ages and abilities, igniting new ideas, conversations and exchanges between Hong Kong and the UK. To this end, we worked with our accessibility partner Arts with the Disabled Association Hong Kong (ADAHK) to ensure that certain SPARK programmes embedded particular accessibility features. These included Makaton (signs with speech and symbols), English and Cantonese sign language, subtitling and pictorial communication. We also asked people to advise on their access needs on registration to see how they could be met. Britain in Hong Kong
Because while we all recognise the limits of online interaction and long for the thrill of the physical event, I think we also know that there is no going back to old ways of working. Also, for the time being at least, and not only because of the pandemic, the era of frequent long-haul travel is over. So it is up to us all to find the most effective and exciting ways to collaborate online and forge the development of new opportunities for partnership.
Image: KMLS and Naratiwat.
Our goal was to develop inclusive programmes and projects that bring people together from Hong Kong and the UK with different experiences and backgrounds. We hoped this would make everyone's experience richer, more engaged, and ultimately lead to more open, connected communities.
Partnership The golden thread that runs through all SPARK programmes – and we hope, future editions of the festival – is that of partnership. As an organisation, the British Council exists to build connections, understanding and trust between the UK and other countries and territories and building these long-term collaborations through SPARK is a key way of doing this. Forty Hong Kong and UK arts, education and community organisations came together under very difficult circumstances to express themselves and reach new audiences during SPARK. We’re very proud of that. We don’t think of the few days of SPARK as an end in itself but rather as a staging post – a step on the journey, if you like. We are very grateful to all of our partners, our supportive advisory board and our audiences, old and new, for making this amazing event happen. For more information and to watch SPARK content, visit www.britishcouncil.hk/spark.
Why online? The pandemic was, of course, the main driving force for an online version. But the beauty of an online festival is that all the amazing content has a shelf life beyond the few days of a festival focus. Audiences reading this now can go online and still engage with much of the SPARK programme. We decided not to do the festival as a hybrid event as this would have been rather asymmetrical, given the inability of our UK partners to travel to Hong Kong at the moment. And SPARK is, after all, about partnership. So, we thought it would be better to make it wholly digital (well, almost) so that everyone could immerse themselves in the many possibilities of online collaboration. Image: Local Doctor and SERGEYMANSUROV.
SPARK festival highlights under four themes 1. Cloud Piazza – a space for knowledge exchange, debate and interactions. Visit Radicals, an online public art-making platform, in collaboration with the Education University of Hong Kong and Edinburgh Napier University.
2. Novel Dimensions - break out from physical limitations with events that enable new virtual experiences. Immerse yourself in Sound Envelope HK-London, a sound-based immersive experience featuring audio field recordings and soundscapes from Hong Kong and London, co-created by students from City University of Hong Kong and Wimbledon College of Arts, University of the Arts London.
3. Common Good - inclusion and accessibility are at SPARK’s core. Join Hong Kong’s Enable Foundation collaborating with UK creatives Ali Hodgson and Pascal Anson and the National Innovation Centre for Ageing, Newcastle University as part of the OK Dementia™ Festival to learn more about dementia and get ready for a future where the stigma of dementia is lifted. Tune in to Both Sides Now: Queer, a series of film talks, exploring aspects of LGBTQI+ life, reflecting upon Queer identity, life and creativity and exploring how Queer film-makers in Hong Kong and the UK can be supported. With videoclub (UK), Videotage (Hong Kong), Arts Council England and Hong Kong Arts Development Council.
4. Bridging Cities - bridge geographical gaps for cultural understanding and exchange. Be teleported between London and Hong Kong by Wind and Foster's interactive dance film Twin Cities, featuring dancers from Hong Kong Ballet and London's Tavaziva dance company. Join Hong Kong born-and-bred pianist Anson Tang, who uses a wheelchair, and Professor Nigel Clayton, Anson’s mentor and an experienced piano professor at the Royal College of Music (RCM), London, for Music as an Adventure, and online piano recital with storytelling, as they disclose the innermost emotions within a performer’s soul. To learn more about SPARK, visit www.britishcouncil.hk/spark. A text-only version of the website is available here.
Image: Shanvood and Roberto Sorin.
“ADAHK appreciates this opportunity to collaborate on a creative festival of this magnitude. Everyone has the right to enjoy the beauty and vitality of the arts. It is also important to provide spaces where people with different backgrounds and (dis)abilities can exchange and co-create. SPARK speaks the language of inclusivity and creates a dynamic environment where all can unleash the creativity that enriches, entertains and provokes.”
About the British Council The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We build connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language. Last year we reached over 80 million people directly and 791 million people overall including online, and through broadcasts and publications. www.britishcouncil.hk/en.
Janet Tam, Executive Director, Arts with the Disabled Association Hong Kong (ADAHK) and SPARK accessibility partner. Britain in Hong Kong
The Great Resignation is Coming: Will Wellbeing Save Your Business? Victoria Coplans Hope, CEO Hope Communications
Dubbed the Great Resignation, global research conducted in the last few months shows that 40% of employees are actively looking for a new role this year. This rises to 49% of employees in Hong Kong. During the pandemic, many people have reconsidered their career paths, some have decided that their values don’t align with the organisation they work for, and still others have been disappointed by their employer’s decision to discontinue the flexibility and wellbeing programmes that were introduced during lockdown. While there’s no doubt that the US is leading the Great Resignation, 90,000 people left Hong Kong in the first half of 2021 alone. This includes both expatriates and locals, leaving the city with a sharp population drop and a widening skills gap. The coming 12-18 months will see the market turn strongly in employees’ favour as they look for greater purpose, more fulfilling roles, and better pay and DDDDDDDD
benefits, including flexibility. As most employers know, attrition is costly, both financially (it can cost up to nine months of an individual’s salary to replace them) and in the loss of institutional knowledge. With those 49% of Hong Kong workers actively looking for a new role this year, most companies can’t afford that additional hit to their wage bill. So, can wellbeing help you avoid the Great Resignation? The answer is both yes, and no. Wellbeing is certainly a part of the equation, but too many businesses are treating it as a band aid for wider cultural issues – a couple of yoga classes will not make people stay. Instead, wellbeing is an integral part of the 4 Cs – Care, Community, Conversation & Culture - that will help your company emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever, with engaged and committed employees. Britain in Hong Kong
1) Care – 46% of Hong Kong workers feel overworked and exhausted, which means they aren’t performing at their best. Implementing a wellbeing programme that encompasses both mental and physical wellbeing has been proven to reduce sick leave and to increase productivity. This is more than some online meditation; you need to provide holistic wellbeing support and education to your people. The concept of Care also encompasses the continuation of flexible/hybrid working after the pandemic, something that 66% of Hong Kong workers say they want. 2) Community – Human beings crave a sense of community. Companies without that strong sense of community see low employee morale, higher turnover, and a toxic work environment. It’s easy to see how you can combine the two Cs of Care and Community, for instance in encouraging sporting activities. This is also where a dddd
solid Diversity & Inclusion programme will help in ensuring that your people feel included in the workplace community, that they can bring their authentic selves to work, and can collaborate productively across the organisation. 3) Conversation – We’ve all been through a lot in the last 18 months and while loss of life has thankfully been minimised in Hong Kong, people have still suffered. Some have been extremely isolated, most have been separated from friends and family, and we’ve all had our lives interrupted. Encouraging employees to talk about how they’re feeling, whether personally or professionally, will improve resilience amongst your staff. Happily, employees who feel their voices are heard, are almost five times more likely to do their best work. Employee-led conversation also improves psychological safety at work and your people will feel better able to speak up without fear of negative consequences. This can help to surface issues dd
and mistakes that might be costly for your business. 4) Culture – the last but most important of the four Cs is Culture. Covid-19 has made two-thirds of us reflect on our purpose in life and whether our careers are meaningful enough. People who feel fulfilled at work are more engaged, resilient, and loyal. It’s an ideal time to consider whether your mission, vision and values are right for a post-pandemic world which is far more focused on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues, and whether they still resonate with your people and your customers. It’s also a great opportunity to get your people involved in building your post-pandemic culture. So much has been, and continues to be, out of our control during the pandemic, but our culture and the way we behave is still squarely in our court. Ask your people which behaviours they want to leave behind with the pandemic, what they want to continue doing, and what they want to start doing to build a great post-pandemic work environment.
Of course, the 4 Cs are inextricably interlinked with each other and are all integral parts of your company’s overall, unique culture. Leaders can support the 4 Cs by focusing on authentic leadership. Most leaders built an environment of trust, compassion and empathy during the pandemic and people responded positively to this. Leaders must also continue to listen to their people and show they are adaptable and willing to learn. Importantly, authentic leadership can also help to counter the uncertainty that the pandemic continues to create.
About Hope Communications Hope Communications delivers bespoke employee engagement and communications solutions to help businesses achieve their strategic business goals and build great places to work. We can help you improve productivity, retention and your bottom line, while enhancing employee engagement and experience. Based in Hong Kong, we have extensive experience working across Asia and around the world.
There are of course, other aspects that you will need to consider, like physical workplace environments and the IT that you will need to help your workforce communicate and collaborate in a flexible/hybrid working model. But the good news is that the 4 Cs are a great place to start, and a great deal can be accomplished at minimal cost to help mitigate your risk of the Great Resignation. ‘* All figures quoted are from Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index.
Victoria Coplans Hope, CEO Hope Communications