, Hong Kong

71% of HK workers said employers want them back to office amidst COVID-19: Randstad

One in two said they would feel “unsafe” until those around them have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Seven in 10 Hong Kong workers said their employers want them back to work at the office despite the potential health and safety risks amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey by Randstad.

Randstad said one in two local respondents would feel unsafe in their workplace until others have been vaccinated against COVID-19. It also said 48% said they want to continue working from home until the vaccine has been widely distributed among the population.

Natellie Sun, managing director of Search & Selection at Randstad Greater China, said employers should acknowledge their employees’ safety and concerns, and “take into account operational and health risks when planning for their safe return.”

“For a start, firms could drive internal engagement to raise awareness and incentivise their staff to receive the vaccine. Employers could also revise their employees’ insurance plans to include COVID-19 and vaccine care,” she said.

“Companies that operate in a high-risk environment such as retail, hospitality, or commercial aviation should also arrange frequent swab tests for their employees so that everyone can feel safer at work,” she added.

Randstad said 85% of the respondents would head back to their workplace once it is possible, and is highly observed among workers aged 55 to 67, with 92% of them wanting to return to their office. 

The respondents want to return to the workplace can be traced to their fear of losing their jobs amidst a sluggish job market, Randstad said, noting that 12% of Hongkongers and 9% of the respondents from Mainland China are “extremely afraid” about their job security.

“It is a catch-22 situation for Hongkongers. Although they do not feel safe in the office when herd immunity is not met yet, there exists a sticky issue of presenteeism. Afraid of losing their jobs amidst the pandemic, employees may feel that physically working from the office could more explicitly show their hard work and dedication to the company,” Sun said.

However, such unhealthy work habits could lead to serious health and safety issues, as well as impact overall workplace productivity,” she added, noting that companies should communicate business updates and policies more regularly to their employees to assure them about job security.

Employers and employees should trust each other and employees can learn how to take initiative in raising their concerns to their managers or the new opportunities they want to explore at work, Sun said.

The Randstad Workmonitor survey was conducted in March 2021 across 34 markets globally with at least 400 respondents in each market.

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