Hongkongers Are Increasingly Ditching Jobs at Chinese Companies

Almost 44 percent of Chinese businesses in Hong Kong were found to have trouble retaining employees. (Image:  invezz.com /  CC0 1.0)
Almost 44 percent of Chinese businesses in Hong Kong were found to have trouble retaining employees. (Image: invezz.com / CC0 1.0)

According to a study done by recruitment firm Michael Page, Hongkongers are quitting Chinese companies after getting fed up of the office culture and low salaries. Almost 44 percent of Chinese businesses in Hong Kong were found to have trouble retaining employees.

Leaving Chinese companies

“These Chinese companies have a lot of money, and they came to Hong Kong to make big plans. Locals took up the roles and thought they would be part of the big change, but they would soon realize that most decisions were only made in the head office in China,” John Mullally, the director of Hong Kong Financial Services and Shenzhen from Robert Walters, said to the South China Morning Post.

Chinese companies have a very rigid power structure, with a clear difference emphasized between the chief executives and the rest of the staff. Hongkongers, who are accustomed to working in British companies that have a freer working environment, are often shocked once they start working at a Chinese firm.

Many Hongkongers find Chinese companies too stressful. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Sixty-seven percent of Hongkongers also stated that they receive a lower salary than expected at the Chinese companies. This has also played a big role in Hongkongers ditching such firms. According to estimates, the base salary of a management trainee in Hong Kong is 33 percent higher in a European bank than a Chinese one. Combined with more relaxed working conditions, it is no wonder why people of Hong Kong are avoiding China-based companies and flocking to Western firms.

A culture of overworking

Hongkongers are also plagued by a culture of overworking that ends up eating up their free time while giving no significant monetary benefit. According to a survey by career portal jobsDB, almost 89 percent of Hongkongers work overtime, with a majority of them spending 4 to 7 hours per week extra at their jobs. Some even work 16 plus hours extra every week. Despite such dedication, only about 25 percent of the employees actually get compensated for the effort they put in.  

“The biggest culprit causing unpaid overtime could be a combination of communication technology advancement and the always-on culture… Some jobs might also require longer working hours than others, so it is hard to find a solution that works for all. Strong leadership by managers who focus on staff productivity rather than presence in the office, combined with an emphasis on work/life balance within a company’s culture, could go a long way to reducing or eliminating this issue,” Justin Yiu, General Manager of Jobs DB Hong Kong Limited, said in a statement (Hong Kong Business).

Overworking can cause fatigue and even depression. (Image: bark via flickr CC BY 2.0 )

In addition to working overtime at their offices, almost 61 percent of the respondents reported that they also worked at their homes. The Standard Working Hours Committee in Hong Kong, established in 2013, has been talking with employers and labor unions to arrive at appropriate weekly working hours for employees. However, progress has been slow because of the intense competitive working environment that forces people to work more. To make matters worse, the overworking culture of Hongkongers is reportedly affecting their health.  

“When you are overworked, you are always tired, sleep deprived, have no appetite, and are prone to illness, to name a few symptoms. In the long run, job performance will be affected, especially for those with jobs that require higher concentration or acute decision-making, such as doctors, nurses, pilots, and drivers. The impaired concentration and attention span will lead to a vicious cycle of poor performance,” Dr. Cheng Chi-man said to the South China Morning Post.

Overworking also takes a toll on the mental health of the employees, with many of them feeling anxiety disorders and even ending up suffering from depression. 

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