Close to half of Hongkongers rather be unemployed than unhappy in their jobs: survey

Gilman Street near Des Voeux Road Central, Hong Kong. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Mk2010
Gilman Street near Des Voeux Road Central, Hong Kong. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Mk2010

Close to half of Hongkongers would rather be unemployed than unhappy in their jobs, according to a survey by human resource consulting firm Randstad.

The poll was conducted from Feb. 21 to March 13 this year with 1,000 locally-based respondents who are employed and aged between 18 and 67 years old.

A whopping 45 percent of respondents said that they would rather be unemployed than feel unhappy in their jobs. 

This feeling is most prevalent among Generation Z workers aged between 18 and 24 years old, with 62 percent saying that they would rather be jobless than feel unhappy at work. 

The survey also found that 55 percent of respondents working in Hong Kong said that they had quit a job because it did not fit with their personal lives. 

This figure is 10 percent higher than the global average. 

Meanwhile, 48 percent said that they would resign from their jobs if their work prevented them from enjoying their lives. 

On the other hand, only 52 percent of Hongkongers said that it is likely that they would stay with their current employer — eight percent lower than the global average.

In comparison, 87 percent of respondents from mainland China said that they are committed to staying with their employer. Respondents in Singapore, on the other hand, are less likely to stay with their employers, with only 43 percent of them sharing the same sentiment. 

Benjamin Elms, regional director at Randstad Hong Kong, said the meaning of work and the role our careers play in our lives have changed significantly in the city as people have had the chance to re-evaluate the purpose of work in their lives over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“Instead of living in the shadows of their jobs, employees would rather work in a safe and supportive organizational culture that allows them to grow and meet their career aspirations and still have enough personal time to do the things they enjoy outside of work,” he said.

Elms added that companies that overwork their employees and expect them to take on additional responsibilities or do unnecessary overtime should be aware of the risks of an unhappy workforce. 

“A dissatisfied worker is more motivated to search for another employer and share their negative employee experiences with their friends, family and even on social media. These actions would harm the organization’s employer brand reputation and ability to attract new talent,” he said.

Elms also said that, with Hong Kong opening up as it begins to live with Covid-19, there will be more new job opportunities for employees in the Greater Bay Area as well as other markets like Singapore, Australia and the UK. 

Hence, to successfully attract and retain talent, employers need to be able to meet the new and changing talent expectations, especially in terms of work-life balance, employee benefits, salary as well as career development, he added. 

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