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Looking to attract star contract employees? Try these tips
Contracting is expected to take off in a bigger way this year in Hong Kong, going by results from the 2016 Greater China Employee Intentions Report. Some 44 percent of Hong Kong professionals polled said that they would consider contract employment, signaling a shift upwards from two years ago.
For many professionals, contracting is an attractive way to enter high-profile multinational corporations that may otherwise have few permanent vacancies. It also allows them to try out an organisation or role before making a permanent commitment. Contracting typically gives employees more flexibility and control over their schedules as well. Some contract workers, for example, use the time between each job to travel.
This gravitation towards contract employment is likely to be a win for many Hong Kong employers, who have had to grapple with talent shortages in the contracting pool for the past few years. But with only 3 percent unemployment, employers need to make contract roles more compelling, especially at the middle-manager level, to attract talent who would otherwise opt for a permanent position.
How can they do so? One way is to ensure that the reward matches the risk. Currently, many contract workers are paid on par with their permanent counterparts, but do not enjoy the same benefits, like medical privileges or holiday entitlements. In more mature markets like the UK and Australia however, contract employees are up paid up to 20 percent more to make up for the lack of benefits.
Going forward, employers can also try adopting an hourly or daily wage structure — or even giving completion bonuses — for large-scale, labour-intensive projects, to help retain key talent.
The good news is that more companies in Hong Kong are catching up to these established practices. Earlier this year, we have met with several clients who have made deliberate strategic moves in improving their compensation packages, adding extra days of leave or adding medical benefits for their contractors.
Employers can also explore investing in a training budget for contract employees who have been with the company for at least six months. We have heard feedback from candidates about feeling sidelined because they do not go through the same training courses or onboarding processes as permanent employees. Engaging contract employees is just as important as engaging permanent staff — contract workers who are engaged typically have higher morale and are more motivated to finish well.
As more temporary employees start joining the market, employers will need to evolve their contracting practices and reduce the perception that holding a contract role means a lower work status to those in permanent jobs. Doing so not only helps to attract top talent, but also raise brand reputations.
To download the 2016 Michael Page Greater China Employee Intentions Report for deeper insights into employee preferences around attraction and retention initiatives, salary expectations and views on the predicted employment outlook, click here.