In an eagerly anticipated event, Great Place to Work®, an organisation widely regarded as a global authority on workplace culture, announced the results of its latest survey and analysis in the first week of July.
All those joining the online awards ceremony via Zoom and YouTube were keen to discover which companies had been selected as the Best Workplaces in Hong Kong™ for 2021, a much coveted accolade and one which can have an impact on future recruitment and brand positioning.
This year saw the sixth edition of the awards and, at a time of continuing uncertainty about public health and evolving work practices, it gave online attendees new points of comparison and much to consider.
Listening to featured speakers, they heard about the initiatives taken by leading employers to improve general well-being in the workplace and address specific issues arising from the pandemic.
But, after logging on, they were also able to enter a number of “virtual rooms” set up to encourage smaller group discussions and the exchange of ideas on particular themes.
This format attracted a lot interest from participants in Hong Kong and overseas. Some were keen to know how this year’s award winners had taken care of employees during the “new normal” imposed by Covid-19. They wanted to hear which measures were seen as essential and had proved most effective. And, quite understandably, they were looking for clues on how best to balance changing employee expectations about time off and working from home with the need to boost productivity and reclaim lost ground.
During the event, the most popular panel discussion dealt with the subject of wellness practices at home and staying in touch with key contacts if not in the office. Mariam Ashroff, head of sustainability management in Asia for LGT Bank (Hong Kong), explained that, fortunately, the new normal had not created boundaries for her team when it came to communicating and collaborating.
Early on, LGT introduced its “Move for Good” initiative which makes it easy for staff to connect together online, wherever they are. As part of the scheme, employees were also encouraged to stay physically active in a variety of ways.
“For one month, we invited everybody at LGT to either swim, hike, run, or bike, with the bank donating a certain amount to Unicef for their efforts,” Ashroff said.
To give extra impetus, a mobile application was created so that staff could post pictures of hikes they were doing – or had completed - in different parts of the world. Overall, the programme helped people to stay healthy, both physically and mentally, and to engage with others by making good use of technology.
Yanick Girard, managing director of Servier Hong Kong, also gave some great examples of how his company had handled health, wellness and other day-to-day concerns in unprecedented times.
“Our assistance programme was implemented early on,” Girard said. “It allowed employees to get counselling whenever needed,[which was important] because this period has been quite stressful.”
In addition, he noted, each team was given the chance to attend lectures on stress management, with practical tips on dealing with common concerns.
“We also provided upgraded medical insurance,” Girard said.
On a separate point, the panellists concluded that listening more closely to colleagues, team leaders and employees helps a company to come up with innovative ideas and create opportunities. And they agreed that trust remains something fundamental in any workplace, regardless of the type of work environment or other external factors.
To build on that, Cristina Vallejo, project manager for Great Place to Work® Greater China, gave a presentation on the best well-being practices found in different organisations and industries. The wide range of excellent examples showed that, even in difficult times, it is still possible to keep employees engaged, motivated, and to look after them well.
This year, 50 organisations participated in the survey. A total of 14 outstanding companies earned recognition as the Best Workplaces in Hong Kong™ 2021 for leading the way even in the most uncertain times. The award winners (in alphabetical order) are: