Diverse employee benefits have become indispensable measures to boost staff engagement and retention in addition to base pay. Apart from meeting statutory requirements on some general benefits such as leaves and retirement protection, employers have put more focus on employee wellness by enhancing medical benefits, as well as providing non-statutory leaves, more long service recognition and retention initiatives.
“Employee benefits have become an important part of compensation and benefits, and to a certain extent tools for staff attraction, engagement and retention,” says Francis Mok, President of the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management.
The latest findings of the HKIHRM 2012 Benefits Survey suggests that there is greater emphasis on employee well-being as observed by the increasing provision of family-friendly measures such as various kinds of non-statutory leave.
"It is found that more resources are put on medical benefits. It reflects that employers have greater commitment on employee health in the fast-paced working environment,” says Mok.
Provision of Leave
The average basic/initial annual leave entitlement across all employee levels ranges from 12 days to 20 days, with more senior level employees enjoying greater entitlement. The maximum entitlement across all employee levels ranges from 16 days to 23 days.
The study also finds that 90.8% respondents offer sick leave payment higher than statutory requirement (four or more consecutive days at the rate of four-fifths an employee’s ordinary wage).
Nearly half or 47.2% respondents offer study and examination leaves at an average of four days with 98.1% of them providing the leave on a fully-paid basis. All companies in the engineering sector provide this benefit while no company in the catering/restaurant sector provides this benefit.
Compared with the 2009 survey, there is an increase in the number of respondents providing dental benefit (from 51.4% to 65.5%), medical check-up benefit (from 39.4% to 55.9%) and clinical (out-patient) benefit (from 95.4% to 98.3%). However, there is a fall in the provision of hospitalisation benefit (from 98.3% to 95.2%).
A medical check-up is usually offered to senior-level employees and in most cases, the benefit is offered annually. The banking and financial services sectors recorded the highest percentage of respondents providing this benefit.
More than 80% respondents cover traditional Chinese medicine while there is an increase in the coverage of Chinese bonesetter consultation (76% respondents).
Long Service Recognition
On average, retirement age among the respondents is 62 across all employee levels. The most common early retirement age is 57. 73.6% respondents do not offer early retirement option.
More than half (56.8%) of respondents provide non-cash awards including golden gifts, certificates, gifts/souvenirs and additional leave.
About 2.2% respondents provide a service-related cash bonus with the insurance and public utilities sectors recording the highest percentage of companies providing this benefit. The bonus amount ranges from 1.54 to 1.9 months of salary, depending on the number of years of service.
For retention initiatives, 73.4% respondents provide education subsidies (excluding any training offered directly by the company).
The average maximum entitlement to the subsidy across various employee levels ranges from $19,785 to $26,667.
More than 55% of these respondents impose service requirements upon completion of the subsidised course with the required average length of service being 1.1 years for all courses in general. All companies in the hotel and engineering sectors provide this benefit.
A retention bonus, ranging from 0.7 to 5.4 months of salary across various employee levels, is provided. The estate/property management and insurance sectors record the highest percentage of companies providing this benefit (both at 33.3%).
Benefits for Employees Based in Mainland
Of the 40% respondents that have employees based in mainland China, 59% and 16.4% provide China allowance and hardship allowance respectively. The entitlement to allowance across various employee levels ranges from 22.1% to 24% of annual base salary.
Around 19% respondents provide home-trip leave with the average leave entitlement across various employee levels ranging from four days to nine days. A little more than three-fourths or 77.9% respondents provide an accommodation benefit. The most common types of accommodation benefit are employee quarters and rental reimbursement. The average entitlement to rental reimbursement is $14,367.
Meanwhile, 73.5% respondents provide a tax-equalisation benefit, while 23.5% respondents provide tax-protection benefit.
“When employees notice that their employers make efforts to tie in with their career and personal needs rather than simply focusing on an employment relationship, they will be encouraged and be more willing to excel themselves in their work. Employee engagement and enthusiasm can always be the keys to corporate success," says Mok.