SME employers in Hong Kong have gradually reduced the emphasis they place on employees’ health and wellbeing, according to research from QBE.
The percentage of SME employers who identified employee health, safety and wellbeing as the most relevant environment, social and governance (ESG) issue to their business steadily decreased from 50% in 2020 to 43% in 2022.
Awareness about employee compensation insurance (ECI) also dropped for Hong Kong SMEs.
ECI is a legal requirement for all employers in the special administrative region (SAR) of China and provides financial assistance to employees who are injured or become ill as a result of their work.
According to the survey, 55% of SMEs are aware of the types of ECI coverage they are required to provide, down from 67% in 2021.
Commissioned by QBE Hong Kong, the SME survey received responses from 422 organisations from across a wide range of industries.
The lower emphasis on health was also reflected in the declining wellness support employers were providing for their employees.
The top three wellness initiatives undertaken by SMEs in Hong Kong include; flexible working hours (31%), care packages (27%) and health and wellness benefits (26%).
That represented a significant decrease from 37%, 28% and 37%, respectively, in 2021.
Lei Yu, CEO for north Asia and regional head of distribution at QBE Asia said: “It is regrettable to see employee wellbeing becoming less important to Hong Kong SMEs.
“While there are multiple challenges and risks employers need to manage every day, let us not forget that employees are a company’s most valuable asset and resource.
“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,” he added.
The QBE survey also revealed Hong Kong SME employers and employees are continuing to debate the pros and cons of returning to the office, with employers remaining divided in their opinions on working from home (WFH) and hybrid working.
Specifically, 40% and 38% of employers said WFH and hybrid working had worsened mental health, while 35% and 38% of employers believed WFH and hybrid working, respectively, had improved employee mental health.