Birthday leave has become an increasingly popular perk to attract candidates

Author: Kate Whitehead | Date: 2 Feb 2016

Organisations in Hong Kong offering more benefits to keep staff sweet

Hong Kong organisations are offering more benefits in an effort to keep staff sweet and boost employee retention.
 
When Asian jobs portal JobsDB surveyed 124 organisations from 26 different business sectors in Hong Kong at the end of last year, it found that an increasing number of organisations are offering paid holidays such as birthday leave and paternity leave.
 
“Organisations are more aware that benefits have a bigger role in terms of employee retention and engagement, not just salary,” says Justin Yiu, general manager at JobsDB Hong Kong.
 
Birthday leave is a relatively new benefit in Hong Kong. Yiu traces the trend back to 2008 when a leading finance organisation made headlines by introducing the practice in an effort to attract candidates. The report found 18 per cent of organisations surveyed offered birthday leave in 2015 – an eight per cent increase on 2014 – and a further 10 per cent plan to introduce it in 2016.
 
Among other types of leave, compassionate leave is the most commonly offered (by 80 per cent of organisations in 2015, a five per cent increase on 2014), followed by marriage leave (77 per cent). The number of organisations granting paternity leave has jumped to 72 per cent from 42 per cent in 2014. Yiu attributes this to the ordinance on statutory paternity leave that was introduced in February last year.
 
“Hong Kong is not at the forefront [of paternity leave legislation] in Asia, but we are catching up,” says Yiu. “Singapore, Taiwan, the Philippines, Japan and Korea have all offered paternity leave for quite some time.”
 
While these perks are common at multinationals and large organisations, Yiu says he has observed small-to-medium sized organisations struggle to offer generous benefits.
 
“Their resources are usually quite tight and it might be more difficult for them to offer these kinds of benefits to employees,” he says.
 
A popular health perk of 2015 was an ergonomic working environment, with 12 per cent of organisations already offering it and a further three per cent saying they plan to grant it next year. These feature ergonomic computer stations and well-designed office furniture, allowing for plenty of workspace and adequate knee clearance. Some organisations also provide additional equipment such as footsteps, keyboard drawers and wrist cushions, to ensure a comfortable posture for workers.
 
At the bottom of the benefit pile are ‘family-friendly benefits’, usually ‘family leave’ such as additional maternity or paternity leave, with just 10 per cent of organisations surveyed offering this perk and another 3 per cent expected to grant it in 2016. But Yiu said he expected this to increase in future.
 
“More employees are placing importance on work-life balance. Based on this, we do see family-friendly benefits becoming more popular in the future to attract candidates,” he said.
 
With Chinese New Year approaching, the time of year when bonuses are traditionally handed out in Hong Kong, employees will be pleased to learn than eight our of ten organisations gave out performance bonuses in 2015, three per cent more than the previous year. The overall average performance bonus handed out was 1.6 months of basic salary, more than the 1.4 months given in 2014.