The annual Employee Engagement Summit organised by has entered its third year. In the theme of ¡§Rethinking Employee Engagement in a Volatile Economy¡¨, the event was successfully held at Kowloon Shangri-la on 18th November, 2011, which has attracted more than 250 human resources professionals and senior executives to participate.

This year, we are glad to have invited 8 guest speakers who are all esteemed leaders, academics and human resources professionals from best-practice organisations to share their unique insights and suggestions on the hottest topics of employee engagement.

The first keynote speaker of the day was Mr. James Tien, GBS, JP, Chairman, Hong Kong Tourism Board and Hon. Chairman, Liberal Party, who delivered the morning keynote address in the topic of "Public Policies and Employee Engagement".

Mutual Understanding
Speaking of employee engagement, Mr. Tien said, ¡§I believe a better employment relationship can be fostered through better mutual understanding, which means the process of understanding the employees¡¦ expectation, aspiration and concern. More importantly, I think the events around the world and our own community can affect for better or for worse the decisions that are being made towards our workforce.¡¨

Mr. Tien suggested two main areas to take note in assessing Hong Kong¡¦s business environment, that is the economical and social environment. ¡§Uncertainty looms over the world¡¦s economy as Europe continues to struggle with its ongoing debt crisis. But here in Hong Kong we have managed to narrowly escape the recession as our economy still records growths and our unemployment rate is still the lowest in these 30 years.¡¨

Mr. Tien thought that the current job market is still relatively vibrant, particularly at managerial levels. So how should Hong Kong embrace for what lies ahead? Mr. Tien believed that the government should take the lead in helping all community sectors by spending more.

In terms of Hong Kong¡¦s social environment, Mr. Tien pointed out that there have been discussions on how social harmony can be better achieved. The outcome of the recent district council election reflected that Hong Kong people favour civilised discussions over confrontation. And the stablising factor in achieving social harmony for a more stable and contented workforce is a consistent effective and long-term housing policy.

Employment Relationship
Finally, Mr. Tien urged organisations to take a more proactive manner to introduce work/life balance practices which in turn will enhance employment relationship. ¡§It is a time to look forward, well preparing for tough times ahead. I do believe Hong Kong people will stay grounded and processed the necessary strengths to face any challenges. We are still one of the most favourable business cities and you the audience have played the crucial part for the success,¡¨ he concluded.

The next speaker was Mr. Allen HA, Chief Executive Officer of AsiaWorld-Expo Management Limited. With ¡§Authentic Leadership¡¨ as his topic, he shared with the audience his insights into leadership.

Authentic Leadership
¡§A leader is someone who identifies the needs of the people, giving attention, appreciation and encouragement, removing the barriers to growth. Leaders have the skills to influencing people, to work towards the common goals, and provide the right environment for people to grow. It¡¦s not about charisma and personality. It¡¦s about substance and character.¡¨

Shaping Corporate Culture
Mr. Ha suggested that there should be alignment of goals within the organisation among every team member in order to cultivate a corporate culture of trust.

¡§For the shaping of a corporate culture, we have to redefine corrective behaviours within a team and have the vision, mission and core values spelled out. We also designed a number of relational KPIs to follow including communication, transparency, accountability, trust. All these promote the competitiveness and sustainability of a company.¡¨

After the morning refreshment break, Mr. NiQ Lai, CFO and Head of Talent Engagement of City Telecom (HK) Limited shared his strategic insights into the topic ¡§Inspiration rather than Motivation ¡V Mindset-upgrade of CTI¡¦s Talents¡¨.

Growing Talents as People
Talking about talent development, Mr. Lai revealed that people is the company¡¦s biggest investment. ¡§We do a lot to engage and empower people to grow as people, not as assets or machines. Every year, we arrange various trips for our staff to experience and learn. For example, in this month, we are sending a hundred of our staff to Cambodia for a 5-day talent experiential trip named ¡§Paint Our Dreams¡¨. People may ask what is the ROI on talent development. In our company, sometimes we do things because it is the right thing to do.¡¨

Engagement by Inspiration
He continued, ¡§Our company believes in inspiration rather than motivation. We hope to inspire each other through exceptional situations. We need to look at engaging our talent from a talent point of view.¡¨

The last speaker of the morning session was Ms. Lena Tsang, Chief Executive Officer of Sir Hudson International Ltd. and Sir Hudson Hospitality Ltd, who talked about building a strong team with passion and professionalism.

Coffee Academy
Ms. Tsang shared the company¡¦s experience in team building by setting up the Coffee Academy. The Academy provides staff with Professional Coffee Training Programme where they can learn important knowledge of coffee including coffee roasting, cupping and latte art classes.

¡§By setting up the Coffee Academy, our coffee training programme has become very systematic, whilst we can also implement our World Barista Competition Standard more easily. We also provide a lot of fun for our staff at the Academy. We hope that they would be able to enjoy their coffee and coffee art at the same time. The Academy is like a second home, a club house for everyone. It¡¦s a place where we feel a sense of loyalty,¡¨ she explained.

Coffee Star Programme
The company has also developed the Coffee Star Program to enrich staff¡¦s coffee knowledge. ¡§We believe that our team grows with us and we grow with our team. Everything is two-sided. We hope our team will grow together and our brand will become stronger. I am sure our team will join us and continuously support our brand and we will have more new joiners coming in the years to come,¡¨ she added.

The afternoon session kicked off with an inspiring speech by our afternoon keynote speaker - Mr. Lam Woon Kwong, GBS, JP, Chairperson of Equal Opportunities Commission. Also the keynote speaker of last year¡¦s Employee Engagement Summit, this year, Mr. Lam shared his insights into staff engagement in the time of volatility in an interesting way by talking about what we can learn from the movies.

Being Social
Mr. Lam first shared extract of the movie ¡§2001: a Space Odyssey¡¨, first released in 1968 directed by Stanley Kubrick. ¡§The movie offers very inspiring speculation where human wisdom came from. We are communal beings. We need to be social. Our survival and well being are dependent on being part of a larger community. We give up our individual freedom for the greater good of the community where we belong. In return we do expect mutual support in difficult times. Being social also says that we seek to be communicators, for trust can only be built through effective communication.¡¨

The second movie Mr. Lam shared was ¡§Apollo 13¡¨. The movie suggests the importance of the ability to manage major crisis and an open work culture that encourages every team member to speak their minds. ¡§It has to do with the organisational values that promote equality when it comes to genuine exchanges of ideas and proposals.¡¨

¡§Thirteen Days¡¨, the next movie introduced by Mr. Lam, inspires the audience with the action of the former US President John Kennedy, who cautiously chose to enlarge his group of advisers from the standing cabinet members to the more diverse team, which enabled the President to manage the crisis. This again highlighted the importance of staff being able to communicate frankly.

Being Inclusive
The last movie was ¡§127 Hours¡¨. ¡§This movie brings us back to the point I mentioned earlier of being social and communal. A great organisation or community would be one that is truly inclusive, which means there is always room to cater for the minority and those of us who want to make a difference,¡¨ said Mr. Lam.

Mrs. Carmen Lam, Chief Executive Officer of PrinCorp Wealth Advisors (Asia) Limited was the next to the stage. She urged employers to stand by employee during tough times, in terms of MPF management.

Treating People Well
She said, ¡§If we treat people well, especially in difficult times, they will be extremely grateful and will put forth extra efforts for you. If we do it right, we can reap rewards in recruiting, retaining, motivating talent and cost saving.¡¨

Mrs. Lam shared a few examples of organisational practices in employee benefits to remind HR professionals that during the tough times, if we want our staff to walk together with us and help us go through the tough times, we have to treat them well and this will generate unexpected results.¡¨

After a pleasant afternoon refreshment break, Dr. Au Kit-sing, Derrick, Head of Human Resources of Hospital Authority came onto the stage for an insightful speech on ¡§Retaining and Motivating Staff in Hospital Authority: From Crisis to Strategies¡¨.

Revealed by Dr. Au, as an organisation manages a large team of nearly 58,000 employees working in 41 public hospitals and institutions along with 48 specialist out-patient clinics and 74 general out-patient clinics throughout Hong Kong, the Hospital Authority has been keeping its service standard in place by very strong operation, despite the challenge of the massive workforce size to manage.

Open Communication
¡§To manage the massive workforce effectively, the HA emphasised direct and open staff communications to understand the need and concern of the entire staff. Through direct communications we can discover the underlying issues and problems among the staff, and rebuild trust between management and the front-line teams,¡¨ he remarked.

As a recruitment website operated under the Sing Tao News Corporation Limited, has been conducting surveys quarterly / bi-annually on workplace and employment trends in collaboration with the Public Opinion Programme of The University of Hong Kong.

HeadlineJobs Quality Workplace Index
In this year¡¦s summit, Dr. Chung Ting Yiu Robert, Director of Public Opinion Programme (POP) of The University of Hong Kong brought along the survey findings of HeadlineJobs Quality Workplace Index (2011 2nd Half) to the audience and talked about ¡§Driving Employee Engagement¡¨.

Dr. Chung said, ¡§According to our survey findings, 57 percent of our workforce is happy about their jobs. 23 percent, that is a quarter of our workforce are thinking of changing jobs. In this quarter, we¡¦ve done some further analyses by breaking down the interviewees into three groups. For the senior management professional group, we see that job satisfaction for this group has dropped from 67 percent last year to 62 percent this year.¡¨

The survey also reflects that job satisfaction among Gen Yers has dropped from 52 percent to 44 percent, but not too many of them are seeking jobs. In addition, the order of the most important factors that affect job satisfaction this year are safe working environment, followed by job security, salary, management recognition and finally, relationship with co-workers.

A Note of Thanks
As the organiser of Employee Engagement Summit 2011, we 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. We look forward to seeing you all next year!