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Hong Kong SMEs deprioritising employee health and wellbeing in push for on-site work: survey 

A new study showed employers are expecting less WFH setups.

Health and wellness of employees of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Hong Kong were being sidelined as more employers push on-site work, according to a new research by QBE.

Results of the annual survey showed only 43% of SMEs in Hong Kong identified employee health, safety and wellbeing as the most relevant environmental, social and governance (ESG) issue to their business last year, dropping from 49% in 2021 and 50% in 2020.

This was shown in decreasing wellness support given to the employees as the survey showed the top three wellness benefits: flexible working hours (31%); care packages (27%); and health and wellness benefits (26%); all went down last year from 37%, 28%, and 37%, respectively, in 2021.

“It is regrettable to see employee wellbeing becoming less important to Hong Kong SMEs. Taking action to support our workforce’s physical and mental wellness through various initiatives and benefits is key to the smooth running of other business activities,” said Lei Yu, chief executive officer for North Asia and regional head of distribution at QBE Asia.

A little over half of SME employers were aware of the Employee Compensation Insurance (ECI) coverage – a legal requisite for all employers to ensure their businesses are protected in case of an unforeseen incident and provide affected staff with medical care. This is down from 67% in 2021.

For this year, 63% of SMEs are expecting employees to work on-site, up from just 51% in 2022, while only about a fifth expect either work-from-home or hybrid setups to continue.

Employers were divided on the impact of requiring staff to return to office. The study showed about 40% of SMEs believe working from home or the hybrid setup have worsened the mental health of their employees, while at least a third saw these alternative working options beneficial to their staff.

Commissioned by QBE Hong Kong, the survey polled 422 SMEs from various industries in October 2022.

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