Innovation Gap in Their Companies Drive HK Employees to Jump Ship

While almost nine in 10 Hong Kong organizations (88%) believe they drive and reward innovation, only 17% of employees agree, according to the latest “Hudson Report: Today’s Workforce Demands Tomorrow’s Skills.”

In fact, findings from the survey show that nearly a quarter (24%) of employees say their organizations do not encourage innovation at all.

The new report analyses the talent landscape and provides insights on what employers might expect in 2016 and beyond, based on the views of over 600 employers and employees. The report points to a significant gap between the views of employees and managers on how businesses are managing innovation.

“There is a mis-match between the views of corporate leaders and their teams. While employers think they encourage new ideas, these are not being filtered down to the workplace,” said Siddharth Suhas, Regional Director, Hudson Hong Kong and Guangzhou. “This is both a challenge and an opportunity for Hong Kong’s organizations. In a competitive marketplace, organizations that can foster innovative, adaptable teams will be better placed to deliver growth in the future, and will also be considered more engaging places to work.”

The report also found that a vast majority (84%) of Hong Kong professionals surveyed are currently either actively or passively looking for jobs. Hudson suggests that this may be linked to the innovation gap.

“Those who take a dim view of their organization’s capacity to innovate and adapt may look elsewhere for an employer that will provide a more stimulating environment,” Suhas said.

FinTech roles on the rise as Hong Kong becomes a tech hub

The survey also tracks hiring intentions in Hong Kong, and found that one in four hiring managers (27%) in Hong Kong is looking to increase their permanent headcount over the next six months, a slight decrease on the latter half of 2015 (32.8%).

However, the overall hiring sentiment – the net effect – standing at 15.7%, has shifted down by 25.1 percentage points (pp) from 40.8% in the first half of 2016, which was largely driven by weaker hiring intentions in the Consumer and Banking sectors. The net effect is calculated by taking the percentage of employers surveyed who intend to increase permanent staff levels over the next six months, and subtracting the percentage of employers who expect to decrease staff levels.

“The Hong Kong market can best be characterized as stable,” said Suhas. “The majority of employers we surveyed are planning to maintain or replace current headcount. Only a small portion, at 11.3%, are intending to decrease hiring.”

The HKSAR Government’s move to set up a HK$2 billion Innovation & Technology Venture Fund to support local FinTech start-ups, has led to a rising focus on FinTech roles in Information Technology and Professional Services sectors. Employers in the IT sector dominate the latest figures, with 47.2% looking to increase headcount, followed by Professional Services (36.7%), Banking & Financial Services (25.5%), Consumer (12.2%) and Retail (8%).

As a result of a decline in both local consumers and luxury shoppers from mainland China, expansions and hiring intention in Consumer sector have slowed down. The number of consumer roles has reduced, and companies are shifting their headquarters to Singapore and Shanghai.

“In the Banking sector, corporate and investment banks are now focusing on replacing headcount and only hiring key roles, particularly in risk and compliance,” said Suhas. “However, institutions headquartered in mainland China and smaller-sized fund houses are taking advantage of lower demand for talent to aggressively hire.”

Employers advised to focus more on skills development

The Hudson Report also found that hiring managers and employees don’t see eye to eye on the new skills that future workplaces will demand.

While 88% of employees are confident they have the skills to perform well in the future, only 57% of hiring managers agree to this. Four out of 10 employers doubt their team has the right skills mix for the future.

The top three skill sets employees want to develop are innovative thinking, negotiation and influencing skills, and digital literacy; whereas employers select driving and managing change, critical thinking, and drive for results as top soft skills required for the year ahead.

“There is a gap between the soft skills employers feel their company needs and those their people would most like to develop. Fortunately, there is common ground too: the ability to manage change is linked to innovative thinking, and these are areas where employers could achieve a win-win if they approach skills development thoughtfully,” Suhas said.

The report reveals that although organizations are aware their team may have skills gaps, fewer than half have a defined strategy to develop their people.

In contrast, almost all (97%) employees feel the importance of developing new skills, and over half (56%) feel more pressured to learn new skills compared to two years ago; yet, only 38% of them feel supported by their managers to improve existing skills.

“Employees are keen to focus on more skills development among employees, but it appears their employers aren’t meeting them in the middle.

“This doesn’t have to be the case. A well-designed learning and development approach is an effective way to boost staff engagement, performance and retention, so the pay-off is much greater than the investment required,” Suhas said.

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