23 October 2016
Hong Kong employees have the worst work-life balance in the region, a survey suggests. Photo: AFP
Hong Kong employees have the worst work-life balance in the region, a survey suggests. Photo: AFP

3 out of 4 HK employees can’t escape work calls on holiday

More than three-quarters (77 percent) of employees in Hong Kong feel pressured to respond to work-related calls and emails while on holiday.

That is the highest proportion in Asia Pacific, a survey by Randstad, a human resource firm, shows.

Hong Kong employees find it the most difficult to switch off, when compared with employees in New Zealand (27 percent), Australia (40 percent), Japan (40 percent), Singapore (49 percent), Malaysia (60 percent), India (63 percent), and China (67 percent).

Three out of four Hong Kong employees said their employers expect them to be available outside regular office hours, significantly higher than their counterparts in the region, including Japan (47 percent), Australia (51 percent), New Zealand (52 percent) and Singapore (60 percent).

The figures show that Hong Kong employers are behind the curve in promoting work-life balance in the workplace, said Peter Yu, director of Randstad Hong Kong.

Yu said this hinders their talent attraction and retention strategies.  

“Hong Kong is a hard-working city. However, the constantly evolving workforce is increasingly gravitating toward maintaining a good work-life balance,” he said.

Yu said employers should address the importance of work-life balance and take practical action to encourage employees to switch off outside work.

This includes not emailing their employees outside work hours unless necessary, setting realistic project timelines, and closely communicating with the team to ensure employees are able to hand over their work to their colleagues when they leave office. 


Meanwhile, employers should be aware of the potential pitfalls of the “bring your own device” (BYOD) strategy, in which companies permit employees to bring personally owned mobile devices into the workplace. 

About 44 percent of employers in Hong Kong have a BYOD policy in place, the survey showed. 

“While encouraging employees to bring their own device will maximise mobility and connectivity, it may have adverse impacts on employee satisfaction if the BYOD policy is not managed properly,” Yu said. 

To maximise the benefits of BYOD, the management needs to steer clear of encouraging employees to overwork on their devices out of the office he said. 

Companies need to be clear that overwork does not result in productivity, Yu said.

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