A-Performers.com held its first "Employee Engagement Summit 2009" on 3rd December 2009 at Kowloon Shangri-La to address the challenges and solutions of employee engagement. The summit was a success and had over 250 human resources professionals and senior executives to join. Following we consolidates advice for HR from each of the keynote speakers at the event.

A-Performers.com is talent management knowledge platform tailored for human resource personnel and senior executives. We are in fact a talent management community and network with a comprehensive knowledge centre. In this way, A-Performers.com provides a true elite environment for human resources professionals benefiting from updated features on key personnel moves, salary trends, corporate brand identities, executive education and training. And it's all arranged in clear-cut categories for easy and convenient readability and access.

Happy Staff Index
The morning session kicked of with Gary Leung, Head of Investment, Consumer Banking, Standard Chartered Bank (HK) Limited.

Leung quipped that Standard Chartered's version of the HSI is the ¡¥Happy Staff Index¡¦, believing that the key to happy staff is having a strategic framework and being ¡¥clear and honest¡¦. Leung noted the importance of measuring staff engagement which at Standard Chartered is achieved via an annual staff engagement survey. The survey asks questions such as:
¡E Do you know what is expected of you at work?
¡E In the last seven days have you received recognition or praise for doing good work?
¡E Does your supervisor, or someone at work, treat you and care about you as a person?
¡E In the last year, have you had opportunities to learn and grow?

One-team Approach
Dr. Christine Lai, Regional HR Director, Pearson Education Asia then addressed shared her success story of engaging people's minds and hearts and turning results to action through employee wellness programmes. Lai emphasised the importance of understanding staff needs to achieve employee engagement adding that if staff are not engaged it is a failure of leadership.

Pearson Education advocates such initiatives on a global, regional and local scales and Lai underscored the need for these to be owned and managed by staff through a one-team approach. Lai emphasised the importance of communication, and explained how it supports sustainable and continuous cultural change. She added, ¡§It is necessary to share a common vision and communicate in a participative process from top to middle management. Middle levels are critical and need to be engaged from beginning to end and in review stages.¡¨

Thinking creatively about MPF
Luzia Hung, Chief of Pension & Group Business, AXA China Region Insurance Company Limited spoke on boosting staff engagement with effective employee benefits programmes. She listed the most commonly desired employee benefits as: a pension, medical coverage, group life coverage, benefits for dependants¡Xmedical and education, and a discount on company products.

Hung explained how employees had become much more aware of retirement needs since the launch of the MPF. She extolled the virtues of additional voluntary contributions under the scheme. Although the minimum employer contribution is 5%, some employers give 15% if an employee has worked at the company for more than 10yrs, with 8-10% being the average. These additional voluntary contributions not only enable employees to save more, but also help employers attract higher quality employees, enhance loyalty, and reduce tax burdens as they are tax deductible.

Engaging minds, capturing hearts & moving feet
Professor Kathleen Slaughter, Dean, Ivey Asia, Richard Ivey School of Business (Asia) Limited was next to the stage to share her take on engaging employees. Slaughter believes employee engagement should be a high priority for HR due to changing demographics and the importance of employee retention.

Things employees need for greater engagement
- Understanding of strategies
- Understanding of business fundamentals
- Meaningful feedback
- A tangible stake in results
- Ongoing reinforcement
- Alignment between pay and performance
- Connection between operating decisions and drivers value
- Closeness with shareholders

Slaughter shared the ten Cs of employee engagement from the Ivey Business Journal: connect, clarity, convey, congratulate, contribute, careers, control, collaborate, credibility and confidence. Highlighting connection as the most important factor, she urged HR to check staff have a good relationship with their leaders, and that managers have adequate people skills as, "Talking to people is key".

Survey less¡Kact more
Florence Ng, Senior Director, Country Human Resources Hong Kong, Philips Electronics Group kicked off the afternoon session explaining how leadership development could be used to engage talent and allow sustainable business growth.

Sharing the four Ds from Philips, Ng explained the company philosophy of creating an environment where all staff can: delight customers, deliver great results, develop people and depend on each other. Ng explained how staff are developed through master classes on growth and performance, she added, ¡§¡Kwhile they [Philips] seek to develop leaders, leadership is a choice¡Xyou have to influence it, not force it.¡¨ With this in mind, Philips adopts a 70:20:10 ratio for staff development with 70% on the job assignment, 20% feedback from management and 10% training.

Leveraging staff in uncertain times
Marieke van Raaij, Group Leader, Greater China, Towers Perrin then looked at leveraging staff in uncertain times and gave an insight into their newly released benchmarks and best practice sharing.

Engagement in Hong Kong has slowly increasing year on year, with a jump in 2008. Raaij pointed out that there is loyalty and commitment among employees with 57% of respondents not considering leaving their current job. Despite this, she warned that as the economy improves and the job market becomes more competitive, retention of key talent is likely to be a greater concern. Raaij highlighted three key engagement drivers: ongoing leadership, image, and career development opportunities. In Asia, leadership was the highest driver, 72%, followed by image, 60%, and then career development, 44%.

Creating a positive workplace
Agnes Koon, Vice President, Hong Kong Women Professionals & Entrepreneurs Association spoke about ensuring business success through employee well-being and strategic insights.

She noted that successful engagement strategies have to have commitment from the top, and each level of a company shares the responsibility for success. Employees should be well informed and HR managers should ask for employees¡¦ advice and involvement and get feedback. Koon then highlighted numerous points HR should try to ensure to maintain a positive workplace.
¡E A clear job description with clear expectations, standards and requirements.
¡E Basic materials, equipment and training for staff to do their job.
¡E Recognition¡Xessential in people management.
¡E A sense of belonging and citizenship for employees and ensure their opinions are heard.
¡E Team building¡Xas friendship at work is vital for a successful company.
¡E Support, guidance, sharing and fun through team building.
¡E Opportunities to learn and grow¡Xpersonal development is crucial
¡E Wellbeing schemes¡Xphysical and psychological health is very important.
¡E Medical insurance, check-ups, inoculations, dental care and health talks.
¡E A safe and healthy workplace.

Respect and recognition
Dr Robert Chung Ting-yiu, Director of the Public Opinion Programme (POP) at the University of Hong Kong gave the final keynote sharing results on job satisfaction and staff retention from the Headline Jobs Quality Workplace Index, 2009. The survey looked at two main areas: job seeking and staff retention; and job satisfaction and employee engagement. Dr Chung revealed that the five main drivers of job satisfaction, according to the survey results, were compensation, recognition, relationship, job nature and advancement.

The survey also included several questions to gauge employee engagement. Firstly concerning morale, and whether staff felt their associates were committed to doing quality work, 57% said yes. Secondly, in respect of ethos and whether the company mission made staff feel their job was important and meaningful 60% said yes. Regarding respect at work and whether staff felt their opinions counted, 52% of respondents said sometimes, with only 4% giving a definite yes. In response to a question asking staff if they had recently received recognition or praise, 43% said yes and 58% said no.

A Note of Thanks
A-Perfomers.com, as the organizer, would like to take this opportunity to thank all the honorable speakers, partners, sponsors, exhibitors, advertisers, facilitators and delegates from Hong Kong and overseas, who have made this summit a success and memorable one. Hope to see you all next year!