February 27, 2019

Hong Kong, Hong Kong

  • Executives predicting significant disruption jumps 76 percentage points within 12 months
  • One in three employees concerned that AI and automation will replace their jobs
  • More than half of companies in Hong Kong plan to automate more work in next 12 months
  • Mercer’s 2019 Global Talent Trends study identifies four top trends shaping the future of work 

According to Mercer’s 2019 Global Talent Trends study, four in five (82%) executives in Hong Kong predict significant disruption in the next three years, compared to just 6% in 2018. As executives focus on making their organizations “future-fit”, significant human capital risks – including the ability to close the skills gap and overcome employee change fatigue – can impede transformation progress. Addressing these concerns is paramount, given that only one in three executives rate their company’s ability to mitigate human capital risks as very effective.

“Over the last few years, organisations have moved from anticipation to action in preparing for the future of work. But they risk bewildering people with too much change, ignoring the values individuals admire, and inundating them with endless process,” said Ilya Bonic, President of Mercer’s Career business.

In today’s climate of uncertainty, employees seek stability. Mercer’s study finds that job security is one of the top three reasons employees in Hong Kong join, and also stay at, their company. Yet, one in three employees are concerned that AI and automation will replace their job. The way to help employees feel secure is to foster human connections. Thriving employees (those prospering in the areas of health, wealth, and career) are twice as likely to describe their role as “relationship focused” and their work environment as “collaborative.”

“The future of work is about connectivity, creating a work environment that appeals to today’s workforce by building a coherent sense of identity, sparking connections, and using data to tailor the experience,” said Darryl Parrant, Mercer Hong Kong’s Career Business Leader.

“Personalisation of work is about moving to integrated platforms with multiple devices that offer individual empowerment. This, however, requires a self-service mindset among employees. We are working with a number of high-growth companies in Hong Kong to shape a people agenda that fosters a more proactive approach to development,” he continued.


Mercer’s study identifies four top trends that leading companies are pursuing in 2019: Aligning Work to Future Value, Building Brand Resonance, Curating the Work Experience, and Delivering Talent-led Change.

Aligning Work to Future Value. AI and automation continue to transform the competitive landscape – 54% of companies in Hong Kong plan to automate more work in the next 12 months. At the same time, the C-suite names job redesign as one of the top five areas of talent investment with sizeable potential for return on investment, and 67% of employees prefer more clearly defined responsibilities. The challenge for HR is to build an integrated people strategy (an approach deployed two times more frequently by high-growth companies) and leverage the right talent analytics to inform decisions on the future size and shape of the organisation – yet only two in five companies have good insights into the business impact of their buy, build, borrow, and automate strategies. “The key is aligning jobs and people to where value is being created, and enabling a mechanism to reward future-fit skills and behaviours,” said Mr Parrant.

Building Brand Resonance. What matters to employees and job seekers is the way a company conducts business and upholds the values of its brand. In a social, transparent world, the lines are blurring between a company’s consumer brand and its talent value proposition (TVP). Successful companies ensure that their brand resonates with all workforce segments – 58% of high-growth organisations in Hong Kong differentiate their TVP to different groups (such as contingent workers), compared to 30% of modest-growth companies. An organisation’s total rewards philosophy is one area where brand values can shine: Thriving employees are three times more likely to work for a company that ensures equity in pay and promotion decisions (82% vs. 26%).

Curating the Work Experience. An effective and relevant day-to-day work experience is essential for retaining top talent. According to Mercer’s study, thriving employees in Hong Kong are two times more likely to work for an organisation that enables quick decision-making (87% vs. 38%) and that provides tools and resources for them to do their job efficiently (85% vs. 38%). Personalised and simplified professional development plans are an ask from employees – more than half (51%) of employees want curated learning to help them evolve their skills and prepare for future jobs. Technology plays a critical role here, but currently companies in Hong Kong still see themselves as being on the journey to becoming a digital organisation, with 52% saying they still have a long way to go.

Delivering Talent-led Change. To ensure talent is at the centre of change, HR should have a voice in business transformation. This year’s study found 56% of HR leaders in Hong Kong are involved in planning the rollout of major change projects and the same number involved in executing those plans. But, only one-quarter of HR leaders participated in the idea generation stage of transformation initiatives. HR sees employee morale as a significant barrier to making changes stick: “Employee attrition” and a “decline in employee trust” are two of the top five challenges in the year ahead. “These findings point to the need for transformation efforts to focus on people-centered design and better talent metrics to understand how people are experiencing and embracing change,” said Mr. Bonic.

Mercer’s 2019 Global Talent Trends study shares insights from over 7,300 senior business executives, HR leaders, and employees from nine key industries and 16 geographies around the world. To download the report, visit https://www.mercer.com/global-talent-trends.


About Mercer

Mercer delivers advice and technology-driven solutions that help organizations meet the health, wealth and career needs of a changing workforce. Mercer’s more than 23,000 employees are based in 44 countries and the firm operates in over 130 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), the leading global professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people. With nearly 65,000 colleagues and annual revenue over $14 billion, through its market-leading companies including Marsh, Guy Carpenter and Oliver Wyman, Marsh & McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment. For more information, visit www.mercer.com. Follow Mercer on Twitter @Mercer.