Entering its fourth year, the annual Employee Engagement Summit organised by A-Performers.com was successfully held on 23rd November, 2012 at Kowloon Shangri-la Hotel. The Summit, in the theme of "Creativity and Innovation in Employee Engagement", attracted more than 300 human resources professionals and senior executives to attend.

This year, we are delighted to have invited 9 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. Charles Mok, Legislative Councilor (Information Technology Functional Constituency) of the Hong Kong SAR.

Developing Knowledge Employees
With "Developing Knowledge Employees in the Social World" as the topic of his presentation, Mr. Mok talked about the new age of Web 2.0 and its meaning. "Firstly, Web 2.0 means interactivity íV things are getting more interactive now, and secondly, information and the way we use the Internet is becoming bottom-up rather than top-down. Thirdly, users create the content, the work environment. How do we project that into the way we look at behaviours of our new generation?"

Mr. Mok believed that technology is changing culture and culture in reverse is making a great impact on the way that we design our technology and application. "The new generation of employees demands more interaction and opportunity to contribute ideas. The question is whether we give them that opportunity and the environment to express themselves freely and apply their creativity."

He suggested that there needs to be good balance. "If we keep surveillance on our employees we won't be able to have a happy workplace. So how to learn to maintain a balance is a challenge for both the employers and the employees. And setting a clear communication channel is always important."

He raised the issue of manpower shortage to conclude his speech, "Part of the reasons for manpower shortage is the changing work nature, which is really becoming more specific and diversified. It also makes it harder for us to hire the right people for the right jobs. We are not going to be able to find a real quick solution for the issue but we still have to deal with it. In the end, I think it may be a matter of the times and the changing work nature rather than we don't have as good ingredients as before in our people. Hopefully we all adapt to it and become more successful in developing knowledge employees in this social world.

Engagement Starts from "Home"
The next speaker was Mrs. Chan Man Yee Wai, Viola, Chairman of the Board 2012/2013 and Chairman, Board of Governors and College Council of Tung Wah College, whose presentation was on "Innovation & Rebranding : Tung Wah Group of Hospitals and its stakeholders".

According to Mrs. Chan, as the most trust-worthy charitable organisation in Hong Kong, Tung Wah Group strives to be a caring organisation and employee engagement should start from "Home". "We hope our employees feel Tung Wah as the second home. Therefore we have developed a brand new concept of "Tung Wah +", which means see 'Tung Wah as the home'. It's a sustainable, relationship-driven experience inspiring employees in becoming passionate advocates of the caring culture."

"We are creating a caring culture which starts from within. It starts from the organisation and then we extend it to the public. This caring culture is the core essence of the charitable organisation. We are a charity platform. We gather resources from the community and we use these resources to provide services back to the community. This is how we create the connection between the community and Tung Wah," she added.

Thinking outside the Box
Mrs. Carmen Lam, Chief Executive Officer of PrinCorp Wealth Advisors (Asia) Limited was the next to go onto the stage with an inspiring presentation on Regulated Medical Flexi Benefits.

She said, "If we really want to do something innovative and creative, sometimes we have to follow the trends and observe the culture of the company, whether the culture is open enough to accept new things. I'd like to share with you something creative that we can be doing safely - what we are familiar with and are handling daily."

Talking about medical benefits, Mrs. Lam pointed out that many find that traditional benefit plans are not sufficient to cater for the diverse healthcare needs of multi generations. Thus she suggested the adoption of regulated flexi plans, which offers flexible benefit items for employees to configure within a framework pre-set by the employer, so that different healthcare concerns among generations are addressed.

"It is always wise to borrow good ideas from others to implement changes, riding on the existing offer to develop a unique approach that best fits your company. HR are suggested to review the existing plans earlier for better preparation," she advised.

All-rounded Engagement
After the refreshment break, Ms. Christina Chan, Head of Human Resources Operations of The Hong Kong Jockey Club shared the Club's comprehensive engagement practices with the audience. As a well-established organisation with a long history of 128 years offering high quality horse racing, sporting and betting entertainment and hospitality services to Hong Kong people, the Jockey Club has developed three key drivers íV distinctive corporate culture, lifelong learning and employee wellness for engaging its 5,000 full-time employees and 21,000 part-time employees for its core businesses, including racing, football betting, lottery, and clubhouses.

"With such a large scale of businesses and sizable employee mix, we have adopted a people-centric approach and built a distinctive corporate culture to engage our talents in a systematic way. We also recognise the importance of staff training, and therefore provides a wide range of opportunities for our staff to develop personally and professionally," she said.

As for employee wellness, Ms. Chan shared their staff club "Our Meeting Place", which is dedicated to leisure, wellness and learning for the entire staff and their families. "We hope to offer a good place for our people to relax after a day of work and it also acts as a platform for connecting our people for better engagement."

Sustainable Engagement
The last speaker of the morning session was Mr. Jowie Yu Senior Consultant, Rewards, Talent & Communication of Towers Watson Hong Kong. He introduced the company's new concept of sustainable engagement, while also suggested some ways to help the audience engage their staff.

Mr. Yu said, "When it comes to engagement, it's not just about how happy or committed your talents are, it's also important to know whether they are motivated, enabled and energised to deliver their best performance and sustain that over time. That's why we come up with the concept of sustainable engagement."

According to Mr. Yu, there are three key ways to sustain engagement: to make employees traditionally engaged íV belief in company goals and objectives, enabled íV free from obstacles to succeed at work, and energized íV sustaining the energy needed at work.

"Hong Kong is at risk in terms of sustainable engagement. We suggest companies to improve the design and execution of Total Rewards programs, and if possible, segment and differentiate populations for greater engagement and cost management," he added.

Empowering Innovation and Creativity
The afternoon session kicked off with Talent Forum: "Empowering a Corporate with Innovation and Creativity". First of all, Mr. Stephen Lee, President of Peter F Drucker Academy, who is also the facilitator of the forum, shared his views and said, "Creativity and innovation should be from the bottom up. It comes from the frontline. So the participation of the frontline staff in sharing new ideas is the key to the success of innovation."

While the willingness of staff to share their new ideas is crucial, Mr. John CH Leung, Director of Home Convenience Service Co., Ltd., a Member of Sun Hung Kai Properties Group and Hong Yip Service Co., Ltd believed that support from the top management is also an influential factor that greatly motivates employees to be more active in expressing their ideas and opinions. "Any endeavours to empower creativity and innovation depends greatly on the supervisor's attitude towards employees and new ideas. Supportive management helps create an encouraging ambiance in the workplace."

Dr. Edmund Lee Tak-yue, Executive Director of Hong Kong Design Centre shared his insights, "Creativity and innovation are about inspiring employees to unleash their inner potential. Organisations should think about how to tap into people's strengths and potential, instead of merely leveraging on their basic skills and knowledge. Now, it's time for the management to shift from 'manage' to 'inspire'."

Dr. Lee emphasised collaboration and both top-down and bottom-up communication to empower creativity and innovation. "We have to accept that there will be some chaos in the process. The key is how we manage the chaos, allowing good ideas to come, and yet putting them into practice to create greater value."

Turning Creativity into Reality
After a refreshment break, Mr. Stephen Lee, President of Peter F Drucker Academy continued on the topic creativity and innovation. He shared the 10 ways to kill employee creativity:

  1. Traditional mentality
  2. Fill the task only
  3. No time commitment
  4. Only right or wrong
  5. Afraid of rejection
  6. Not my responsibility
  7. No more questions!
  8. No opinion
  9. Pure incentive driven
  10. No failure

"If you really want to put creativity into reality, no matter how traditional your business is, you always have the revival power to change the business model and put innovation into uplifting your business. Second, beware of the 10 ways to kill employee creativity. Once people grow up something, grab it. Those are the most powerful sources for change," he explained.

Quality Workplace Index
The final speaker of the event was Dr. Chung Ting Yiu Robert, Director of Public Opinion Programme (POP) of The University of Hong Kong, who announced the latest findings of the Quality Workplace Index, conducted by HeadlineJobs.hk, a recruitment website operated under the Sing Tao News Corporation in collaboration with the University of Hong Kong.

In response to the main theme of the Summit, Dr. Chung shared some of the findings that are relevant to creativity and innovation. He pointed out that for staff recruitment, many human resources professionals emphasise "creativity" as a way to spur innovation and ultimately improve business results.

He highlighted the findings, "Among employers, 56 percent supported the notion that creativity is a critical factor in hiring, while 45 percent of employees considered creativity to be an important aspect in their work. More employees aged below 40 agreed with this. In addition, more top and middle managers as well as professionals regarded creativity as important compared with general staff personnel."

A Note of Thanks
As the organiser of Employee Engagement Summit 2012, we would like to express our gratitude to 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!