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Money Moves

Major employer supports employees well-being

by Grace Chan

Staff engagement can always result in greater company loyalty

Teresa Au
head of corporate sustainability Asia Pacific Region
HSBC
Photo: Edde Ngan

HSBC has implemented a series of special work arrangements, giving its Hong Kong staff greater flexibility in managing time for work, personal pursuits and family obligations.

"This is only one of the many ways that we promote work life balance here," says Teresa Au, head of corporate sustainability Asia Pacific Region, HSBC.

Over the years, HSBC's annual employee survey has helped gauge the overall staff sentiments towards the bank's HR policies and an array of other issues. "This year's survey showed a closer correlation between staff engagement and their participation in corporate sustainability activities and volunteer services," Ms Au notes.

Findings of the survey also suggested that employees from the X and Y generations are more keen to confirm their values and positions in their families and the community. "The culture of our organisation is transforming gradually, becoming more dynamic, and we are not surprised to see a shifting focus onto work-life balance in our younger staff," Ms Au adds.

To address this trend, the bank has introduced an "Employee Network" initiative that encourages employees across the board to get together, share their interest, make new friends and gain mutual support.

"A friendly, cohesive and harmonious working environment makes employees happy about their jobs and the workplace, driving them to fully stretch their potential," she remarks.

To encourage staff to relax and truly enjoy the support from their colleagues, employee networks are expected to be leisurely in nature. Despite this, the bank has in place a set of guidelines governing the establishment of such networks.

"First and foremost, every employee network should consist of an organising committee comprising at least 10 founding members from different departments," Ms Au explains. These founding members are required to put together a proposal stating clearly the aims and objectives of the network. "Once the proposal has been accepted, they will need to present it to the bank's diversity committee," Ms Au notes.

As soon as the proposal is given the green light, the diversity committee will issue an approval letter that comes with an annual funding of up to HK$20,000. Every employee network will have a senior manager acting as sponsor to provide support and guidance.

The bank demonstrates its full support for the employee network by granting the network committees free access to a barrage of bank facilities such as meeting rooms for workshops and seminars. Updates on individual employee networks are circulated via the bank's intranet, which also serves as a channel to attract new members.

Ms Au says that network committee members are given the autonomy to arrange activities, with a primary aim to achieve certain learning objectives. "Since these activities are not intended for training purposes, network members are expected to derive great benefit and pleasure from their learning outside of the workplace," she expands.

Growth driver

All employee networks are required to present an annual report reviewing their activities and resources allocation. "This is not a job assignment and we're not going to quantify any achievements. However, we do expect their full accountability," Ms Au stresses.

Regardless of ranks and positions, committee members that are committed to organising and coordinating activities for the network can take the opportunity to develop and harness their leadership and interpersonal skills.

"Increased responsibilities certainly help to expand a person's sphere of competence. This will lead to good prospects for promotion or lateral movements," Ms Au says.

Four employee networks are now up and running, with the "Working Parents" being the first and the most popular, followed by "Environmental Fellow," "Project Link" and "Cancer Support Circle".

"Established last May, the Working Parents Group now boasts a member profile of more than 300. Most of them are young parents that are eager to exchange parenting ideas," Ms Au reveals. "All their seminars, workshops and family learning trips have recorded full attendance."

In response to the overwhelming success of the currently employee networks, HSBC promises that additional grants will be allocated as long as these networks' activities demonstrate greater values and benefit a larger group of staff.

"Staff are encouraged to think independently and communicate among themselves," Ms Au concludes. "The results of our staff focused initiatives such as the employee network are highly visible X these include a heightened sense of job ownership, enhanced staff engagement and ultimately, corporate sustainability."

Preferred platform

  • Bank offers space, resources and support for employee networks
  • Staff improve interpersonal and organisational skills, achieve personal growth and establish peer support via committee work
  • Focus on employees engages hearts and minds


Taken from Career Times 23 October 2009, p. A2

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