Innovation a high business priority for Hong Kong companies

Hong Kong CIOs are increasingly embracing the innovation trend and implementing measures to boost innovation in their company. Read more here.

  • 96% of Hong Kong CIOs are implementing measures to boost innovation in their company in the next 12 months.
  • Hong Kong companies rate themselves in the upper mid-table of the innovation scale with an average score of 3.7 out of 5. 
  • 41% will employ IT talent with unique skills to build a more innovative business over the next 12 months.

According to an independent survey from specialist recruiter Robert Half, Hong Kong Chief Information Officers (CIOs) are increasingly embracing the innovation trend, with 96 per cent implementing measures to boost innovation in their company over the next 12 months. 

When asked to rate how innovative they think their company is on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 = not innovative; 5 = highly innovative), less than one fifth (13 per cent) of Hong Kong CIOs give themselves a score of 5 out of 5. The majority still believe there is room for improvement as the average score given by CIOs is 3.7 out of 5. 

Adam Johnston, Managing Director Robert Half Hong Kong said: “As one of the world’s key commercial hubs, Hong Kong businesses are increasingly adopting innovative methods to drive their company agenda. Moreover, by pioneering innovation, Hong Kong companies are increasing their competitiveness within the global marketspace at a time when many regional competitors are offering lower cost structures.”

How Hong Kong companies are boosting innovation 
The overall majority of Hong Kong companies are taking measures to boost innovation with an approach that consists of a combination of both technology and people. Data infrastructure tops the list with more than half (53 per cent) of Hong Kong CIOs planning to build more data centres to leverage data more efficiently. Almost half (49 per cent) will reshape network infrastructure to improve operational processes, followed by 41 per cent who plan to hire new IT talent with the unique skills needed to build a more innovative business. 

Measures CIOs will take to build a more innovative business over the next 12 months

Building data centres to leverage data more efficiently 53%
Reshaping network infrastructure to improve operational processes 49%
Employing IT talent with in-demand/unique skills 41%
Developing new technology tools to improve customer experience (e.g. App development) 34%
Developing/enhancing software 31%
Focusing on a more collaborative work environment 26%

Source: independent survey commissioned by Robert Half among 100 Hong Kong CIOs – multiple answers allowed.

“The main drivers of IT innovation - mobile, cloud, and Big Data technologies – are giving Hong Kong companies a competitive edge in the delivery of services and improved productivity. Leveraging these technologies and building on them doesn’t only have the potential to enhance the customer experience and reduce costs but it also boost employee productivity which in turn has a positive impact on overall company success,” Adam Johnston said. 

With almost all of the Hong Kong CIOs surveyed (98 per cent) saying that it is challenging to find skilled IT staff, having an innovative corporate culture can serve as a point of difference to attract and retain top IT talent.

“Successfully fostering a culture of innovation calls for ongoing investment in both IT infrastructure and human resources. However, Hong Kong companies face an extremely competitive environment when it comes to attracting high calibre IT professionals, and businesses face a  notable shortage of IT talent - particularly those with niche skills,” Adam Johnston said.

“Skilled IT professionals are actively looking for opportunities where they can make a meaningful contribution to developing and driving innovation. Not surprisingly, the best IT talent is attracted to those Hong Kong companies with a reputation for embracing innovation. This being the case, companies need to send a powerful message to the market that they are focused on this, and maintain a visibly innovative culture, in order to attract and retain the best IT employees,” Adam Johnston said. 

Robert Half suggests the following tips for encouraging innovation:

1.    Capture ideas: By failing to capture and build on creative ideas as they are formed, businesses could miss out on valuable innovative solutions. 
2.    Encourage employees to speak up: Every employee needs to feel encouraged to speak up and contribute their views on how to make innovative improvements to the business.  
3.    Create a culture of innovation: Leaders must foster a culture that supports new ideas. This includes developing clear structures and processes to identify, develop and implement innovative ideas. 
4.    Develop the talent in your organisation: Staff development is integral to innovation. It promotes innovation skills like personal responsibility, understanding of errors and visionary thinking.
5.    Remove the barriers: Innovation relies on both financial and technological possibilities. IT must support innovation with modern technologies – like data analytics and cloud technology – and remain attractive to IT professionals at the same time.

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About the research
The annual study is developed by Robert Half and conducted by an independent research firm, surveying 100 CIOs/CTOs in Hong Kong. This survey is part of the international workplace survey, a questionnaire about job trends, talent management and trends in the workplace.  

  • 99% of Hong Kong CFOs have hired an employee that did not meet expectations, primarily because of underqualified candidates (48%), a mismatch of skills (39%) and candidates found to be lying on their CVs (28%).
  • 41% had to let the employee at hand go, while 33% respectively re-started the recruitment process and partnered with a staffing agency to secure a replacement.
  • Employers cite increased workload for colleagues (53%), increased stress on colleagues and managers (39%), and higher recruitment costs (33%) as the biggest consequences of a bad hire.

New independent research commissioned by specialised recruiter Robert Half shows the majority (99%) of Hong Kong CFOs have hired an employee that did not meet expectations, and more than one in three (37%) took just two weeks to discover that they have hired the wrong person.

According to the study of 150 CFOs, 37% typically realise within a fortnight that a new hire is not meeting expectations. The most common reasons given were underqualified candidates (48%), a mismatch of skills (39%) and candidates found to be lying on their CVs (28%).

What to do with a bad hire?

When asked what steps they took to address the poor hiring decision(s), 41% of CFOs say they terminated the employee contract, whilst 33% respectively re-started the recruitment process from scratch and partnered with a staffing agency to secure a replacement. Close to one-third (31%) of finance employers decided to deal with the matter internally by looking for an internal vacancy the candidate would be better suited for and 30% developed a training program to develop the employee’s skills to the desired level. Still less than one in four (23%) adopted a ‘wait and see’ approach to see if the employee’s performance would improve.

The cost of a bad hire

Hiring the wrong person for the job can significantly impact the organisation. The top three consequences of a bad hire according to finance employers are increased workload for colleagues (53%), increased stress on colleagues and managers (39%) and higher recruitment costs (33%). Other cited negative consequences include increased workloads for managers (27%), lost productivity (26%) and low staff morale (23%).

Bad hires can be highly costly for companies, though many Hong Kong companies struggle with accurately calculating the cost of hiring the wrong person. While 11% say they don’t track these costs, almost half (47%) fail to compile all the data in a single overview. Almost three in 10 (29%) say some costs are not accurately measurable and 9% admit they have not looked at doing it. Merely 3% say they do not find it challenging.

Adam Johnston, Managing Director of Robert Half Hong Kong said: “Businesses go to great lengths to find the right candidate, but the cost of not hiring an adequate employee can be significant. Whether organisations decide to terminate their employment or invest in additional training, it will impact the company financially and can cause significant disruption and stress to the existing workforce, indicating the importance of getting it right.”

“While some factors, such as cultural fit, attitude, or even the credibility of candidates’ qualification or experience, can be challenging to account for in an interview; an experienced interviewer and a rigorous hiring process can prevent a wrong hire to take place, such as by asking the right questions, thoroughly testing skills and meticulous reference checking. Employers would benefit from reviewing their hiring policies to ensure they strike the right balance between efficiency and rigour,” concluded Adam Johnston.

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About the research

The annual study is developed by Robert Half and was conducted in December 2017 by an independent research firm, surveying 150 CFOs in Hong Kong. This survey is part of the international workplace survey, a questionnaire about job trends, talent management and trends in the workplace. >

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Gabrielle Nagy 
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