The COVID-19 crisis has ushered in a new era in the world of work that is impacting both jobseekers and hiring organisations. Speaking on behalf of Hays consultants who are on the ground interacting with businesses and candidates every day, Jack Leung, Regional Director of Hays in Hong Kong, shares 10 trends that are currently impacting recruitment in Hong Kong:

1)    Number of active jobseekers on the rise – Recent months have seen a distinct uptick in active jobseekers on the market who are looking for new opportunities, says Jack. “Apart from being highly qualified, many such candidates are also showing higher levels of commitment and are likely to look beyond compensation as their sole incentive in the current climate.”

2)    Flexible staffing is the need of the hour – “The ongoing cautious outlook towards hiring has led to delayed projects and slowed growth across industries,” says Jack. “Companies that lack the capacity to hire permanent headcount are increasingly exploring flexible or temporary staffing as a viable alternative to assist ongoing projects and help their businesses get back on track.”

3)    Hiring processes are faster and more effective – The proliferation of remote working has led to faster and more efficient hiring processes, says Jack. “From a job search perspective, prospecting and interviewing has never been easier. Interviews are now conducted virtually and can be arranged more easily and without disruptions to schedule.” However, organisations are also taking their time to ensure they find the right fit, which could lead to longer hiring processes in some cases, he adds.

4)    Hiring led by domestic demand – Owing to their operational structures, hiring within MNCs has seen challenges and slowdowns in their headcount approval processes. “The focus has shifted to local or China-based organisations that have been less impacted. A similar trend is seen within banking where bigger international banks are taking a more guarded approach while smaller Chinese banks are still expanding,” says Jack.

5)    Flexible working arrangements become the norm – The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated interest in flexible working arrangements, particularly within MNCs and startups, says Jack. “While some organisations are looking to keep work from home measures in place until the end of the year, most have resumed operations in the office. Out of these, roughly 20% are utilising hybrid working models that have some employees working remotely and others in the office on a rotational roster; while roughly 50% have adapted flexible hours for employees to avoid peak traffic and take care of their families.” There has also been a rise in demand for flexible working arrangements within the workforce, along with agile workplace designs to account for increased distancing, shortened work weeks and even casual working attire. 

6)    Leadership goes remote – “With remote working or hybrid teams likely to become a permanent fixture going forward, organisations are taking a new look at their established leadership styles,” says Jack. “While some are struggling to compensate for engagement on an individual level from managers and peers, others are responding quickly with relevant trainings in terms of managing remote teams, productivity tips and promoting engagement and wellness.” Learning and development initiatives for both managers and employers have thus become increasingly necessary to stay abreast of structural and digital changes. 

7)    Select sectors see sustained growth – While industries like retail and real estate continue to be impacted by market factors, others like e-commerce, education, fintech and virtual banking are seeing sustained growth. “There has also been significant growth within the insurance sector, considering the current crisis is primarily health related. Demand for support functions like claims, legal and compliance has increased, alongside business transformation roles as insurance companies continue to digitise their operations and processes,” says Jack.  

8)    Digital transformation spurs IT demand – “After a series of disruptions over the last year, it has become critical for organisations in Hong Kong to have an effective IT infrastructure in place. As more companies ramp up their remote accessibility and tools for communication both externally and internally, related industries like telecom, cloud and IT consulting will continue to see steady growth,” says Jack.

9)    Attraction & retention strategies pivot – Remote working options are no longer a perk but a necessity for effective employee attraction and retention, Jack shares. “Additionally, employees are increasingly seeking the extension of benefits like medical, clinical, and life insurance for their dependents. Employers will likely need to rethink their benefits packages to include dependents and increase focus on employee wellbeing if they are to attract and retain top talent.”

10)  More professionals look outwards – Prolonged business disruptions have led to an increased desire for relocation or international mobility within professionals in Hong Kong. This has been accelerated by the closing of business travel which will is likely to stay limited for the foreseeable future. “Offering global career progression opportunities or international rotations will thus form an important element of talent attraction for organisations moving forward,” says Jack. 

“While the recent period of crisis has been challenging for both job seekers and organisations alike, the direction of its resulting changes remains definitively positive. As we move towards a more digitalised workplace and expanded, hybrid ways of working, a key strategic priority for businesses at this time should be to ensure their employees and managers are equipped with the right skills to not just endure but thrive in the new world of work,” he concludes. 



Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.

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About Hays Specialist Recruitment Hong Kong ("Hays Hong Kong SAR")

Hays Hong Kong Limited ("Hays Hong Kong SAR") is the one of the leading specialist recruitment companies in Hong Kong SAR in recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people across a wide range of industries and professions. Hays has been in Hong Kong SAR for over a decade and boasts a track record of success and growth. At Hays in Hong Kong SAR, we operate across the private and public sector, dealing in permanent, temporary and contracting positions in the following specialisms: Accountancy & Finance, Banking & Financial Services, Construction, Digital Technology, Engineering, Finance Technology, Human Resources, Information Technology, Insurance, Legal, Life Sciences, Marketing & Digital, Office Professionals, Property, Procurement, Supply Chain and Sales. Hays Hong Kong SAR has been awarded the “Best Workplace for Women™” and one of the ‘Best Workplaces™ in Greater China 2019’ by Great Place to Work®.

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