SME Blog: Hong Kong SMEs should invest in employee wellbeing, check insurance in ‘new normal’

SME Blog: Hong Kong SMEs should invest in employee wellbeing, check insurance in ‘new normal’

Blog: Hong Kong SMEs should invest in employee wellbeing, check insurance in ‘new normal’ 

As companies grapple with a new, more flexible way of working, it is more important than ever for Hong Kong’s small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to support their staff and to check their Employee Compensation Insurance. 

In a sign of the ‘return to the office’, 63% of SMEs in Hong Kong expect more employees to work solely in their place of business this year, compared to 51% in 2022, according to research commissioned by QBE Hong Kong. 

SME employers expect the proportion of employees solely working from home (WFH) to drop from 28% in 2022 to 20% in 2023, while 18% of employers expect employees to utilise hybrid working, down from 20% in 2022. 
Employers and employees are continuing to debate the pros and cons of returning to the office in the ‘new normal’, with employers remaining divided in their opinions. This is a conversation being had globally too. 

The jury is still out. 40% and 38% of employers said that WFH and hybrid working, respectively,  have worsened mental health. While, in contrast, 35% and 38% of employers believe that WFH and hybrid working, respectively, have improved employee mental health. 

While there are multiple challenges and risks employers need to manage, it’s important to remember that employees are a company’s most valuable asset and resource. 

Alarmingly, SME employers in Hong Kong have reduced the emphasis they place on employees’ health and wellbeing. The percentage of SMEs who identified employee health, safety and wellbeing as the most relevant ESG issue to their business dropped from 50% in 2020 to 43% in 2022. 
Another worrying trend is declining wellness support that employers are providing for their employees. The top three wellness initiatives include providing flexible working hours, care packages, and health and wellness benefits, but overall support decreased between 2021 and 2022. 
A workplace can help create a more resilient culture through the likes of fair pay, volunteering in the local community, energy conservation, recycling, and having good employee benefits, including insurance.

Taking action to support your workforce’s physical and mental wellness will also help the smooth running of other business activities.

Insurance protection
Another vital part of protecting employees is having a comprehensive Employee Compensation Insurance plan to provide staff with medical care in the event of accidents or incidents. 

Although Employee Compensation Insurance is a legal requirement for all employers in Hong Kong, the survey showed that only 55% of SMEs are aware of the types of coverage they are required to provide, down from 67% in 2021. 

SMEs should proactively check what coverage they have and where they can improve cover. This will help reassure staff and managers. 
At QBE, we support SMEs in having a thorough understanding of the unique risks they face and provide tailored advice to ensure that insurance coverage provides their business with adequate protection. 
We wish your business every success for the rest of the year. 

Best wishes,
Lei Yu, Chief Executive Officer for North Asia and Regional Head of Distribution at QBE Asia

*Commissioned by QBE Hong Kong, the SME Survey draws on the responses of 422 SMEs from a wide range of industries in October 2022. For more information on the QBE survey, click here.
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