Nine in 10 employees in Hong Kong feel at risk of burnout this year, the highest among markets in Asia, says Mercer’s 2022 Global Talent Trends Study

  • Employees in Hong Kong cite fair and competitive rewards as top concern when considering whether to join or stay with an organization.
  • Flexible work schedules are less of a priority when compared to higher quality medical coverage and additional well-being benefits for employees and their families.
  • Barriers remain for upskilling efforts in Hong Kong, with employees unsure of which skills to focus on and employers concerned that upskilled talent will leave the firm.


Hong Kong, 14 June 2022 – A staggering 95% of employees in Hong Kong feel at risk of burnout this year, the highest among markets across Asia, with employees having to deal mostly with unfair treatment relative to their peers (40%) and not being rewarded fairly for the proportionate amount of work done (35%). This is according to Mercer’s 2022 Global Talent Trends Study, “The Rise of the Relatable Organization”, that rounded up insights from nearly 11,000 C-suite executives, HR leaders and employees globally.


With nearly all (95%) organizations planning significant transformation this year, the collective fatigue could put these plans at risk. Yet only one in four executives and HR leaders in Hong Kong view employee exhaustion as a threat to transformation or driver for attrition.


The study also found that despite 93% of employees in Hong Kong feeling satisfied in their current role, nearly two in five still plan to leave in the next six to 12 months, reflecting that organizations have yet to keep up with evolving employee expectations of work and the workplace.


Yan Jiejun, Mercer’s Head of Talent and Employee Experience, Career Consulting, Hong Kong, said, “In these times of uncertainty, companies that transform and succeed in this business recovery phase are led by executives and HR leaders who partner their employees to deliver on total well-being for a sustainable workforce. They are helping employees adapt sustainably to new ways of working by protecting psychological and mental health as a priority, providing adequate time for upskilling & reskilling, innovating ways to ensure their people have a sense of social connectedness and ensuring fairness in the workplace.”


Work in Partnership: Employees in Hong Kong cite fair and competitive rewards as top concern

While eight in 10 employees say that not being able to work remotely or hybrid permanently is a deal breaker, employees in Hong Kong are more concerned about fair and competitive rewards, job security, well-being programs and medical insurance, when considering whether to join or stay with an organization.


Even though one in three employees in Hong Kong say the future of work is about balance and they are willing to forgo pay increases in return for flexible work schedules, this is less of a priority when compared to higher quality medical coverage and additional well-being benefits for themselves and their families.


Recognizing the importance of fair and competitive rewards for employees in Hong Kong, half of the employers surveyed have made it their top priority to adjust internal and external pay equity and ensure they have a ready flow of talent this year. Similarly, when considering flexibility on a larger scale, organizations are paying the most attention to total rewards and workforce planning to rethink programs and policies to attract and retain talent.


Ms Yan said, “Companies in Hong Kong are still more traditional compared to their peers globally in favoring compensation and benefits as their employee value proposition. A shortage of talent has put pressure on companies to pay a premium for new hires and caused internal pay equity to become even more disconnected from external market dynamics. Although employees are drawn to new, flexible work models as a result of the pandemic, they are fundamentally still driven by rewards and it is encouraging to see employers taking active steps such as moving to skills-based pay, to ensure their compensation packages remain fair and competitive.”


Build for Employability: Significant skill gaps found in all the companies surveyed

The pandemic supercharged companies’ race to reskill, with organizations globally investing more than US$2,800 per learner in reskilling last year, up from US$1,400 in 2020. However, it is unclear if the investment is paying off. All of the companies in Hong Kong surveyed in the study reported significant skill gaps in their organization, even though nearly all (98%) employees in Hong Kong reported recently learning a new skill.


While providing opportunities to reskill and upskill is top of the people agenda of organizations in Hong Kong in 2022, barriers remain. Lack of time aside (35%), one in four employees said they are not sure which skills to focus on as well as where to go to learn a new skill for work. HR leaders, too, have their reservations. They find it difficult to keep up with the pace of change and emerging skill needs (38%) and are concerned that upskilled talent will leave the firm (32%).


Addressing skill gaps is more pressing than ever for organizations to realize their strategy, meet evolving business needs and ensure the employability of their talent well into the future. The good news is HR leaders in Hong Kong are also looking to build skills internally rather than acquiring talent, a significant shift from pre-pandemic. They are seeing the greatest impact from targeted learning investments (36%), rewarding skill acquisition and experiential learning through internal rotations (both 35%).


Ms Yan added, “As employers continue to figure out which skills are most needed to drive business growth, what is equally important is offering more opportunities to facilitate experiential learning and rewarding the effort when employees pick up new skills so that it also encourages them to do better in their work.”


Understanding the Talent Drivers

A fundamental change in people’s values is underpinning a structural shift in the labor market. With a record number of employees switching jobs last year, understanding talent drivers is critical. After job security, organizational brand and reputation is the #2 reason for employees who joined their current employer, up from #9 before the pandemic. Staying relevant requires organizations to listen intently to their stakeholders and walk the talk on their core values through company purpose and work standards.


Vicki Fan, CEO, Hong Kong, Mercer, said, “With HR teams predicting lower energy reserves from their employees this year, employers need to carefully reconsider ways of working, employee well-being and upskilling efforts to balance the needs of both the business and the workforce. Companies who get this balance right between humanizing and transforming, and responding to employees’ expectations of transparency and trust, would find themselves becoming more relatable and resilient in the new shape of work.”


About Mercer

Mercer believes in building brighter futures by redefining the world of work, reshaping retirement and investment outcomes, and unlocking real health and well-being. Mercer’s approximately 25,000 employees are based in 43 countries and the firm operates in 130 countries. Mercer is a business of Marsh McLennan (NYSE: MMC), the world’s leading professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people, with 83,000 colleagues and annual revenue of approximately $20 billion. Through its market-leading businesses including Marsh, Guy Carpenter and Oliver Wyman, Marsh McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment. For more information, visit Follow Mercer on LinkedIn and Twitter.


APPENDIX: About the 2022 Global Talent Trends Study

The seventh edition of Mercer’s Global Talent Trends Study brings together the voices of nearly 11,000 C-suite executives, HR leaders and employees representing 16 geographies and 13 industries. 
Read the report.


Five trends for 2022: What relatable organizations in Hong Kong are getting right


1. Resetting for relevance: Listening and engaging talent by reflecting their values in the new shape of work.

  • Only 65% of employees in Hong Kong say their company is meeting all their needs.
  • Almost all (99%) of the employees surveyed expect their employer to pursue a sustainability agenda that balances financial results with social issues, diversity/equity, and environmental impact.

2. Working in partnership: Working with employees on career, health and rewards to stay ahead.

  • Nearly nine in 10 HR leaders (88%) think there is more work to be done to build a trusting culture at their company, particularly as many consider shifting to a hybrid working model.
  • Gig working remains a favored strategy for the C-suite, with seven in 10 executives expecting that gig workers will substantially replace full-time employees at their company in the next three years. But with fewer than 6 in 10 full-time employees open to gig working, more needs to be done to make this a viable, attractive and secure option for employees.

3. Delivering on total well-being: Actively supporting and nurturing a healthy workforce with benefits that matter.

  • Almost nine in 10 companies currently offer or plan to offer training and tools to help employees identify and support others facing mental health challenges.
  • Across all demographics, financial worries have increased, with half (54%) of employees saying they feel insecure about their financial future.

4. Building for employability: Prioritizing and aligning skills for employees of all backgrounds to the work of the future.

  • Close to 80% of companies already have or plan to adopt an AI-powered internal talent marketplace platform to facilitate movement.
  • With a growing aging population in Hong Kong, 47% are offering older workers post-retirement part-time/flexible working options, and 40% of companies provide retirement modelling tools for their employees.

5. Harnessing collective energy: Designing employee-centric work experiences, to earn, learn and laugh together.

  • HR teams are predicting low energy reserves this year: 48% expect their workforce will have just enough energy for their work but not to go above and beyond, and 18% expect even less energy across the board.
  • 93% of executives in Hong Kong say they have asked more of HR in the past 18 months and will continue to do so in 2022.