By Pallavi Anand, Director, Robert Half Hong Kong
Business and economic confidence is high across the board these days in Hong Kong. In the most recent Robert Half Employment Report, which covers the first half of 2014, senior business leaders from the banking and financial services, commerce and industry, and IT sectors uniformly expressed confidence about the growth prospects for Hong Kong and their company.
So it’s not surprising that many firms also reported plans to expand staff in the first half of the year. In the banking and financial services sector, for example, 46 percent of senior business leaders said they expected to add new permanent employees, especially accounting and finance professionals, in the first six months this year.
Also, 48 percent of chief financial officers and finance directors in commerce and industry said they would be hiring more accounting staff, particularly business and financial analysts. And 26 percent of chief information officers and chief technology officers said they expected to add IT employees, most often in the security department.
These trends point toward plenty of new opportunities for strong candidates in finance and technology. However, they also could signal mounting challenges for companies in hiring and retaining the best employees. According to the report, Hong Kong senior business leaders are already thinking about that possibility. More than nine out of 10 survey respondents said they were concerned about losing top talent. A similar number reported challenges in finding skilled employees.
How can firms vie for the best job candidates, while also keeping their top performers? Here are some strategies to consider:
Ensure that your remuneration and benefit packages are competitive. Find out what your competitors are offering job candidates and make sure your salary and benefits are equal or greater. This includes not only base salary and medical benefits, but also bonuses, and any other perks that firms in your industry regularly provide employees.
Think, also, about how you can help your employees achieve a better work-life balance. Many professionals these days seek out firms that allow them to balance their family and personal life with their careers. Make sure you’re providing your employees with adequate vacation and time off, and, if you can, offer flexible scheduling. It’s the kind of benefit that can make a job worth taking – and keeping.
Offer training and development opportunities. One of the most common reasons employees give for leaving a job is the lack of opportunity for growth. When a worker can’t see an obvious career path within a company, he or she will start searching for employers who will offer him or her richer and more varied career possibilities.
So take time to sit down with your top performers, and ask them where they hope to go in the company. Help them determine what steps they need to take to get there, and check in frequently to assess their progress. Provide them with leadership training, and consider starting a mentorship programme in which your star experienced employees guide these promising newcomers toward management roles.
And make sure you’re offering your employees other professional development opportunities, as well. Providing (or reimbursing the cost of) training classes and seminars not only gives your workers a chance to learn skills that will improve their performance on the job. It also tells them that the firm is invested in their career, which in turn tends to create loyalty.
Consider hiring interim professionals. In a tight labor market, the hiring process can take a long time. To fill gaps while you’re searching for the right candidate, consider bringing in temporary workers. This will help ensure that your full-time staff isn’t taking on too much extra work and risking the kind of burnout that will make them look for other opportunities elsewhere.
Hiring interim staff will also give you time to assess your long-term needs. Perhaps you’d be better off using the vacant position to hire an employee with different skills from the one who left. If a job opening has left you pondering changes in your department, think about hiring a consultant who will help you look at your processes and procedures to determine where your needs are.
Hiring and keeping top employees can be the key to staying competitive in Asia’s ever-growing economy, which is poised to expand faster than the world average in 2014. But if you provide your employees with the right benefits and programmes, you can stay on the right side of the talent shortage.
As global economic conditions improve, competition for top talent will increase. To tap into an increasingly competitive market while also retaining strong staff members, firms must demonstrate a commitment to work-life balance, develop innovative training programmes to build a candidate’s skill sets, and create programmes to ensure career mobility within your firm.