Hong Kong workers were eager to report for work after the holiday, and that’s because they wanted to have a fresh start and greet the Lunar New Year with fervor and optimism. And also because they were looking forward to the big red packet awaiting them at the office.
Most of them, especially those in the big corporates, expected something bigger than HK$20, which is not even enough for breakfast. Local bank staffers are probably the most expectant.
China Citic Bank gave each of its Hong Kong staff a red packet of HK$2,000, easily making them the envy of the industry.
Bank of China (Hong Kong) handed out lai see with HK$200 in each of them, which is not bad.
But most banks, including HSBC and Hang Seng Bank, which on Tuesday announced results that are not to be sniffed at, as well as Bank of East Asia, gave their staff HK$20 each.
OK, it was one of those times when people wondered if they joined the right company. But, of course, one also needs to consider the other components of the overall payout, including bonus, salary increase, and perks galore.
For example, DBS may have put a measly HK$10 in the lai see, but it also gave 18k gold cufflinks and 18k gold necklaces to all its 24,000 employees around the world, including 4,000 in Hong Kong, to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
And what’s a better way for an employer to show its appreciation to its hard-working workers than to share its profit with them? And that’s why many companies increased, even doubled, the amount of cash in the red packets they distributed to their employees this year, though a salary adjustment may not be in the offing.
Hong Thai Travel, for example, raised the lai see for its staff to HK$100 from HK$50 previously. Ngong Ping 360, New World Bus and Citibus also gave bigger red packets this year, HK$50 from the previous HK$20.
Ocean Park gave HK$1,200 to its full-time staff and HK$600 to each of its part-time employees – definitely much more generous than the payout from rival Hong Kong Disneyland, which just announced a third straight year of red ink.
Giving out lai see can be fun. Listed travel agency EGL went for a lucky draw of red envelops worth HK$100, HK$500 and HK$1,000 each, and doubled the number of packets containing HK$1,000 to 15 percent of the total giveaways. That’s certainly much more generous than the tips their tour guides usually get.
Even troubled company Convoy Financial, whose parent was under investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption and the Securities and Futures Commission, tried to cheer up its 500 financial consultants by given them HK$100 envelops.
Well, no matter how much you received from your boss, it’s the thought that counts, as they say. Good luck in the Year of the Dog! Kung Hei Fat Choy!
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