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Saturday, Apr 13, 2024

How happy are Hong Kong’s workers? Poll finds dissatisfaction, need for recognition

How happy are Hong Kong’s workers? Poll finds dissatisfaction, need for recognition

More than a third of respondents experienced burnout and work-life imbalance, says positive thinking advocacy group.

Respect and recognition are vital at the office, a Hong Kong advocacy group said on Tuesday, as the city’s employees scored 5.15 out of 10 in a happiness index survey, with more than one-third having experienced burnout and work-life imbalance.

“This phenomenon is alarming and unexpected,” said Professor Simon Lam Ching, an adviser to the positive thinking advocacy group HK.WeCARE, and associate dean of Tung Wah College’s school of nursing.

“Hong Kong people like to work, and they are very productive … but do not have job satisfaction, and are not really happy.”

Ricky Szeto, CEO of Hung Fook Tong Group, Professor Simon Lam Ching and Dr Henry Ho of positive thinking advocacy group HK.WeCARE at a press conference.

In the online survey conducted last December, more than 1,500 members of the working population in Hong Kong were interviewed to identify factors that influence workplace happiness.

Respondents were aged 15 and above, with the majority aged between 25 to 54, and from all walks of life across a wide range of occupations.

An average score of 5.15 out of 10 was given when respondents were asked how happy they were with their jobs, with close to 40 per cent giving a failing score of under five, a stark contrast compared with the 2022 general happiness index recorded by the group, which stood at 6.59.

Of the 1,527 employees surveyed, more than 40 per cent reported a high level of burnout from work, while over 30 per cent said they experienced work-life imbalance, as they could not relax in personal time because of their jobs.

The survey found the factor most affecting workplace happiness was employee pay perceptions, as 40 per cent of respondents found their compensation inappropriate, considering their workload and performance.

However, the group found no correlation between one’s income level and workplace happiness level because the highest income group – those earning more than HK$100,000 a month, saw the lowest happiness score at just 4.63.

Henry Ho Chun-yip, a research committee member of the group and a psychologist at the Education University of Hong Kong, said city residents were not necessarily money-minded but had to focus on something when they could not get job satisfaction.

He added, instead of more fringe benefits, most respondents chose mutual respect, fairness, transparency and recognition as the most desired workplace attributes, with about 30 to 50 per cent picking them.

To improve workers’ happiness, the group called on employers to cultivate a positive work culture and prioritise retaining talent.

“Employers should shoulder the responsibility of bringing human elements into workplace management,” said Ricky Szeto Wing-fu, adviser to HK.WeCARE and CEO of the Hung Fook Tong Group.

“Retaining talent is much more important than snatching it. If the worker is only attracted by higher pay, he can easily be lured away again. The unequal pay would also cause more conflicts among colleagues.”

He said he believed the way to retain talent was by creating a human-oriented environment in which employees were put in the correct positions according to their strengths instead of being asked to tackle their weaknesses.

He added companies could also allow flexibility and provide family-friendly leave advocated by the Labour Department to foster a healthy work-life balance among employees.

“The business environment has changed drastically. Many employers are under huge stress because of several unfavourable factors, ranging from the interest rate increase to hiring difficulties,” he said. “But a salary that is liveable and does justice to one’s dignity should be offered, if possible.”

Meanwhile, Lam said workers should take good care of their mental health and be proactive in communicating with management to build a mutual understanding of the expectations of pay and productivity.


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