Bosses get wake-up call in work-life balance survey
By Scarlett Chiang 2007-10-24
P04 | Top News
Long working hours and insufficient time for families may force many workers to look for a better work- life balance outside Hong Kong, a survey shows.
About 27 percent of 1,000 workers questioned in a poll conducted by Hong Kong University's Public Opinion Program in July said they would consider such a move. Community Business, a corporate social responsibility group that commissioned the poll, said the findings are a wake-up call for employers.
``As economies around the globe compete for talent, a work-life balance for employees must become a key component of Hong Kong's competitive advantage,'' chief executive Shalini Mahtani said.
Program director Robert Chung Ting-yiu said the poll results did not mean that all 27 percent would leave the SAR, but it showed an alarming number of people were inclined to do so.
Many employees are working 49 hours a week - a drop from 51 in 2006 - but still higher than the 40 hours set by the International Labour Organisation.
Chung said although work hours has fallen, the number of people who considered ``their work and private life are balanced'' had dropped from 44 percent last year to 41 percent this year.
``As the employment rate and job mobility go up, more people may have to adapt to new working environments,'' he said. ``Along with rising expectations on work-life balance, it seems there's still a long way to go before Hong Kong can have a happy and balanced workforce.''
The poll found 27 percent felt a five-day work week would help them achieve a work-life balance.
Mahtani said firms should encourage employees to take annual leave as stated in contracts, and warned that those who fail to give workers a minimum of seven days' paid leave a year are breaking the law.
Benjamin Hung Pi-cheng of Standard Chartered (2888) said he believed Hong Kong would be more attractive to international talent if the issue of work- life balance is addressed. He said the bank had benefited after it introduced a five-day work week last year and advised staff to leave the office before 7pm.