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Chairman’s Luncheon 2018: Trends Defining the Talent Landscape in Hong Kong

‘There's no such thing as a free lunch’ so the saying goes and at Ambition whilst we were delighted to host an intimate Chairman’s lunch with a group of Hong Kong senior decision-makers at the China Club, we did ask them to give us something back in return, their views and thoughts on the Hong Kong talent landscape. Over an exceptionally nice lunch (thank you China Club!), our CEO and Co-Founder, Nick Waterworth, hosted a wide-ranging discussion covering several topics from agile workplaces, the gig economy, the continued rise of contingent workers in Asia through to skills shortages and the seemingly endless war for talent.

There were some robust debate and differing perspectives, especially about the impact of agile work methodologies. Both ‘positive’ and ‘not-so-positive’ experiences were shared on ​open-plan offices and hot-desking. The benefits of open-plan offices discussed included how they can help with coaching employees, the speed to resolve potential issues, facilitating creativity and fostering a competitive culture. Conversely, there were examples of employees gravitating towards the same desks every day even though free seating was in operation, meeting rooms full of employees having to make confidential calls and even a trend in increased email communication in open-plan offices as they did not want to disturb others by having a conversation with those in close proximity!

Whilst many of our guests saw the benefits and attractiveness to employees of flexible work arrangements, it was highlighted that for these initiatives to work, the technology deployed to facilitate this needs to be of high quality and there needs to be a high degree of trust between employer and employee.

Many of our guests noted the trend in growth of the contingent workforce in Hong Kong, either to cover a specific project or gap in coverage or simply due to an organisations strategy to reduce permanent headcount. In many instances, these contract roles are often turned into permanent positions after a period of time. With a change in the mindset of the next generation, there are more and more professionals in Hong Kong willing to consider temporary or contract employment. How they are ‘treated’ and ‘integrated’ into these roles and companies will be critical to whether they choose to accept a permanent role if it is offered in the future. With the war for talent in Hong Kong showing no signs of letting up, one piece of advice to take away was to ensure contingent workers are treated as far as possible like any other member of the team and made to feel welcome. Putting them at the back of the office, not inviting them to the ‘team lunch’ and leaving them to their own devices is not a recipe that is likely to convince them to stay should they be offered a permanent role!

Whilst no conclusions were drawn, it was fascinating to hear from a diverse group of senior decision makers in Hong Kong on what’s happening in their sector.  Many thanks to all our guests who attended. At Ambition, we are committed to building better futures for our clients, candidates and colleagues and as part of this, we commit to bringing together senior professionals at thought-provoking events such as this. If you are interested in attending similar events, need help finding the right talent (or are looking for the next step in your career) please do get in touch.