HK jobs

Monday morning blues

Many Hong Kong finance professionals are unhappy with their employers, complaining of poor promotion prospects and inadequate pay.
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Forget about so-so Monday mornings, reckons Christina Aguilera (AFP)
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<div style="text-align: left;"> Forget about so-so Monday mornings, reckons Christina Aguilera (AFP) </div>

If you groaned when awakened by your alarm this morning, be assured that you are not alone. About 40% of Hong Kong finance professionals claim they rarely or never look forward to work on Monday mornings, according to the latest job satisfaction survey by eFinancialCareers.

No doubt, some feel with Christina Aguilera that “Hey, forget about your Monday morning, So, so ordinary same old story”, and others agree with Pulp that “You don’t want to live till Monday, You gotta do it all over again”.

But the reasons why workers are reluctant to drag themselves from their beds are varied. The survey revealed that more than half of Hong Kong respondents (53%) are “not very” or “not at all satisfied” with the promotion opportunities offered by their current employer, yet one in 10 of them has never actually conducted a performance review with their managers.

Although nearly half of finance professionals (48%) are somewhat dissatisfied with their current salary package, a significant proportion of them (38%) are dissatisfied

In addition, more than one-in-four of the 300 Hong Kong finance professionals surveyed are unhappy with their relationships with their managers. Managers’ lack of leadership skills, support, recognition and unequal treatment are cited as the key reasons behind their “disgruntled relationships with their supervisors”.

“Criticisms of bosses include their poor leadership qualities, lack of support and insufficient concern for the work-life balance of their staff,” George McFerran, Asia-Pacific head of eFinancialCareers, told FinanceAsia.

“With this undercurrent of job dissatisfaction amongst Hong Kong finance professionals, it is not surprising” that they don’t like Mondays.

The survey was conducted from August to September 2011, and examined work motivators, level of job satisfaction, and job market outlook. It polled a total of 952 financial markets professionals in Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Australia. Finance professionals across different levels were questioned in Hong Kong, comprising 28% junior staff, 59% middle management staff, and 13% senior management staff. Their average experience was between five and 10 years.

However, throughout the region as a whole, Singaporeans seem to be the most discontented. They topped the lists for dissatisfaction with their jobs (37%), their pay and benefits (41%), work-life balance (25%) job security (24%) and feared redundancy (41%) more than others.

Of course, the people who log on to the eFinancialCareers website are normally job hunters anyway, so negative responses should be expected. But McFerran pointed out that it has an extensive database of users going back many years, and they also took part in the survey.

The main positive conclusions were that employee recognition should be a key retention strategy, performance appraisal is an important managerial responsibility and that training and development is a cheaper way of raising skills than hiring new people.

“Staff retention is a major issue for employers as their firms grow, and needs to be the greatest area of focus. Employers have to learn how to keep their staff,” said McFerran.

In a separate analysis of employment trends, the firm found that there has been a 61% increase in in-bound job applications to Hong Kong. The biggest rise has come from India (nearly 200%), followed by UAE, Singapore and France. A healthy stream of applications has also been made from the UK, Malaysia, Australia and Japan.

Risk management is the most difficult area to find suitable candidates, and other hot skill areas are commodities, trading and sales and marketing. “Customer-facing skill sets are in great demand in Hong Kong,” said McFerran.

Clearly, there are still plenty of opportunities for local, sleepy malcontents too. And their complaints are more about the particular than the general.

After all, “most respondents had a positive attitude towards the financial industry, although 30% said they would consider jobs outside the industry,” pointed out McFerran.

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