Work-life balance improving for majority of financial services employees

Robert Half research reveals 69% of Hong Kong CFOs say the work-life balance of their employees has improved over the past three years.

  • 69% of Hong Kong CFOs working in financial services say the work-life balance of their employees has improved compared to three years ago, while 25% say it has stayed the same. 
  • 97% have initiatives in place to improve the work-life balance of their staff, with flexible working hours being the most popular method.
  • 87% say an improved work-life balance among employees has a positive impact on overall workforce performance. 

The financial services industry is often associated with long working hours and heavy workloads – far higher than Hong Kong’s national average of 50.1 hours per week . However, progress has been made as new independent research commissioned by specialised recruiter Robert Half reveals more than two-thirds (69%) of Hong Kong CFOs within the financial services industry say the work-life balance of their employees has improved over the past three years. One in four (25%) say their staff’s level of work-life balance has stayed the same over the same time period, and 5% even say it has decreased. 

In an indication that Hong Kong financial services employers are increasingly encouraging a positive work-life balance for their staff, the vast majority (97%) have implemented measures to improve the balance between job and personal life. 

Having work-life balance initiatives in place is not only advantageous for employees, it is also beneficial for companies, as almost nine in 10 (87%) say improving the work-life balance of their staff has had a positive impact on overall workplace performance.   

Adam Johnston, Managing Director of Robert Half Hong Kong said: “Financial services employees operate in a very fast-paced industry, and are under increasing pressure to meet both work and personal commitments. By being able to better manage both professional and personal duties, employees become happier, less stressed and are more productive at work, thereby also positively impacting the company’s bottom line.”

“Not only does work-life balance help employees become more productive, these benefits also help position the company as an employer of choice. In a market plagued by an ongoing skills shortage, financial services companies need to diversify their incentives offerings in order to attract high-calibre talent.” 

The five most popular work-life balance measures currently in place within financial services companies are: flexible working hours (44%), additional leave (44%), company restrictions on out-of-office hours use of mobile devices (24%), working from home/telecommuting (23%) and restricted working hours (23%). 

“Hong Kong employers looking to increase their level of flexibility for their staff would benefit from investing in and fully embracing mobile and agile technologies. By making sure employees have the required equipment, technology and knowledge of how to use it they can efficiently participate in the business world in real time.” 

“By offering a viable alternative to the standard office routine, financial services employees can have the freedom to work remotely and productively around family and personal commitments,” concluded Adam Johnston.

Other recognised methods for employers to help their staff get a better work-life balance:

1.    Job-sharing
Job-sharing allows two part-time employees to share one full-time job. Through a job-sharing arrangement, each employee can manage their working schedules around personal commitments while companies take advantage of increased diversity in the workforce, higher productivity, and alternative perspectives and ideas on projects. 

2.    Compressed working week
A compressed working week will attract employees who require the benefits of part-time work without sacrificing salary. Simply, the employee has the freedom to complete their usual number of contracted hours in less than five days. For example, four 10-hour days instead of five eight-hour days. 

3.    Permanent part-time arrangements
Having permanent part-time arrangements affords employees the opportunity to work a reduced number of hours each week on a permanent basis – usually between 20-29 hours. Under these arrangements employees are still entitled to company benefits, including annual leave on a prorated basis.  

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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 75 CFOs and Finance Directors in financial services 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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