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SLW: Achieving work-life balance a win-win scenario

    Work-life balance is an easy-to-understand concept that can be translated into effective measures to attract and retain talent, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said today (June 5).

    Speaking to some 200 guests at the luncheon of the ˇ§Achieving Work-Life Balance: Towards A Happy and Productive Hong Kongˇ¨ forum organised by the Hong Kong Baptist University and the Hong Kong Institute of Directors, Mr Cheung noted that the upbeat employment market has inevitably led to intense competition for talent and a surge in staff turnover. 

    ˇ§This has brought great challenges to employers and human resource professionals and I believe that many of you have been actively reviewing remuneration packages and devising proactive strategies to attract and retain talent.  A higher salary package or better fringe benefits will surely attract more job applicants, but this may not be sufficient to retain talent.

    ˇ§In fact, as society advances, our employees are not only concerned about their material well-being. They also aspire to attain a balanced life so that they can have sufficient time to take care of their various needs.  To help employees achieve work-life balance has become an increasingly important staff retention strategy,ˇ¨ he said.

    Mr Cheung listed some successful work-life balance initiatives:  introducing a five-day work week or flexi work arrangements; encouraging staff to leave the office early; reviewing or streamlining the workflow; organising family days, lunch-time occupational health workshops, music therapy workshops, workplace stretching exercises; and providing counselling and hotline services and stress management workshops or even procuring for employees confidential counselling services.

    The Government has taken the lead in implementing the five-day work week strategy in two phases since July 2006. Since its implementation, there has been no loss of productivity, nor any additional expenditure incurred. Instead, there has been an obvious improvement in staff morale and motivation.

    Many work-life balance initiatives are actually not costly.  Whether a company can successfully help its employees to achieve work-life balance depends very much on the commitment of its management at all levels.  Therefore, a fully committed management should first initiate a frank dialogue with its staff to understand their needs and aspirations, and then proceed to devise tailor-made initiatives for them.

    The Government, as the largest employer, is committed to helping the public understand the concept and importance of work-life balance. In the coming year, the Labour Department will continue to promote enlightened employment practices to employers and human resources managers as well as to encourage the adoption of these practices in the workplace. 

    ˇ§The adoption of work-life balance brings about a win-win scenario for both employers and employees.  It is an investment that guarantees handsome dividends. Given the joint effort of the Government and organisations concerned, I am fully confident that more and more employers will join hands with us in promoting work-life balance with a view to creating a happy and vibrant workforce in Hong Kong,ˇ¨ Mr Cheung concluded.

Ends/Thursday, June 5, 2008
Issued at HKT 13:31


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