IT / Telecom

Preferred career platform

by Isabella Lee

Catherine Fong, senior human resources manager
Yahoo! Hong Kong Limited
Photo: Johnson Poon

Positive work environment and healthy lifestyles maintain workforce stability

With jobs aplenty for those with the right skills, companies are paying increasing attention to enhancing the overall work environment.

"The turnover rate of our engineering staff is less than half the market indicator in the previous quarters. Part of this results from the subtle things we do to make ours a pleasant workplace," Catherine Fong, senior human resources manager of Yahoo! Hong Kong Limited explains.

One such example is the lack of a dress code. At Yahoo! Hong Kong, the majority of employees are free to wear whatever they feel comfortable in. The exceptions are those whose positions require them to meet with clients. They dress for the occasion in typical office wear.

The company also organises a range of leisure activities, from barbecues and playing basketball games to go-cart riding. "We want to build a healthy and happy workforce through pleasurable games and activities, and we organise them depending on our colleagues' interests," Ms Fong says.

To promote a work life balance for the entire team, all staff members are encouraged to enjoy a healthy lifestyle in their own way. In support, Yahoo! Hong Kong even reimburses the costs of gym memberships and other sport or leisure related activities that employees undertake in their own time.

Ms Fong believes that by keeping fit and happy, employees can improve the quality of their work, which is obviously good for the company, and as such it rewards staff with individual and team awards on occasion. Outstanding performance is also acknowledged at the international level, with Yahoo! offering its worldwide Odyssey Award to employees who make exceptional and innovative contributions in various areas. "Celebration of success is a great motivator," Ms Fong says. "The endeavour of every individual is respected and does not go unnoticed."

Learning environment

For professional development, the company arranges talks by IT gurus from inside and outside Yahoo! to keep local talent up-to-date with the latest trends and know-how in the industry. Employees also have chances to attend major IT conferences around the globe.

"Our people have an intrinsic drive to face and overcome challenges because they all like to see the fruits of their hard work, professionalism and creativity, impacting millions of users on the Web," Ms Fong says. "We provide support in many forms to accommodate their learning and development needs."

Moreover, the company offers sponsorship for staff to take training programmes, whether it be a second degree or a short term programme for technical skills enhancement. There is also a library that provides printed materials and free access to electronic books to facilitate self study.

To monitor career development, Yahoo! Hong Kong uses a talent inventory system in which staff members can record their skills, competencies and achievements. When an upcoming project calls for someone with a particular skill set, the right employees can be easily identified.

Individual performance is reviewed regularly from different perspectives, including comments from team managers, and cross-team and peer assessments. "We understand that career development is a major issue and thus we help each individual employee to find his or her best path within the company. For instance, those who have strengths in programming are put into software development. Likewise, people who possess strong communication skills may move into project management," Ms Fong says.

Despite having a stable workforce, Yahoo! Hong Kong still evaluates its human resources policies constantly. Ms Fong and her team research the employment market and examine possible policy improvements, such as topping up the MPF scheme and giving staff referral bonuses, to stay ahead in the competition for talent.

"All in all, we create an environment where people can be comfortable and work happily. We value our reputation and believe in word of mouth," Ms Fong says. "When interns tell us they want to join the company after graduation because they had a great time working here, I feel that our efforts to improve work conditions have paid off."


Taken from Career Times 26 October 2007
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