Perks HK startups might want to consider for young people

September 04, 2019 12:04
Australian neobank Xinja offers employees unlimited annual leave, free meals and no dress code on top of stock options. Photo: Xinja

With a political crisis gripping Hong Kong society at the moment, it might not be a good time to talk about job perks for young people, many of whom are preoccupied with battling police in the streets.

But then, all of us have got to earn a living, regardless of the social situation.

Startups, those small but highly ambitious companies seeking to find their first billion-dollar funding and stock exchange listing, are a good place to start because they seem suited to the temperament and outlook of young people.

Besides, if you think you have what it takes to conquer the world, then you just might find fulfillment in working for these firms.

Over the past two years, I've had the pleasure of working with a few startups, where I've personally witnessed how motivated young people can be in these places: they really enjoy their work!

Many startups, because their reason for being is to disrupt the status quo, extend their revolutionary outlook to the way they manage people.

These companies believe that they already have a great idea that is bound to become the Next Big Thing in the world of business and technology. So for them, the biggest challenge is to find the right people to carry out their plans, and be able to retain them.

To that end, many startups would stop at nothing to be able to lure the best and the brightest to work for them.

In Australia, some startups offer incentives that can only be described as jaw-dropping.

According to the Daily Telegraph, these new companies – virtual banks, graphic design studios, delivery firms, etc. – try to lure talent by offering unlimited leave, subsidized university education, casual dress code, and even in-house chefs.

Mobile bank Xinja, the brainchild of ex-National Australia Bank executive Eric Wilson, offers employees unlimited annual leave, free meals and no dress code on top of stock options.

“You can’t expect someone to work their guts out in order to make you rich,” said Wilson, which is why Xinja encourages staff to invest in the company as well.

His ultimate goal, he says, is to make banking a “force of good again” amid a widespread perception that it has been a force of evil for so many years.

Needless to say, such a messianic corporate mission appeals a lot to young people, who are understandably idealistic.

Wilson said he sometimes finds it hard to get people to take time off because they are so committed to their work.

But they are allowed to take a few months off to recharge. “I love seeing them come back invigorated and regenerated,” he told the newspaper.

Topping LinkedIn's list of top 25 Australian startups is Judo Bank, another virtual bank.

Chris Bayliss, Judo Bank's co-founder, told News Corp. that the best people want to work for him because the company is set up like a big bank but focuses on helping small and medium-sized businesses, a segment that is usually ignored by the big banks.

“Talent attracts talent," Bayliss was quoted as saying. "When you run a company with a serious board and serious investors, then serious bankers want to come and work for you and magic happens.”

Here in Hong Kong, we have a new generation of banks that will start offering virtual banking services later this year. They will certainly need talented people to be a part of their business adventure.

Many startups want to change the world by creating new systems and offering a new way of doing things. 

That revolutionary zeal resonates with many young people, who instead of feeling frustrated and disappointed with the world, have chosen to do their bit in changing it.

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EJ Insight writer