Hong Kong business leaders face poor performance challenge.

Mentoring ranks high in support strategies.

Research from Robert Half has found 96 per cent of Hong Kong business leaders face the challenge of poorly performing employees. This level of performance can impact a company’s productivity levels, staff morale and even reputation.

Having invested in the employee – spending time and money on the recruitment and onboarding process – Hong Kong bosses are taking a variety of steps when they realise that an employee is not meeting expectations. According to the research Hong Kong business leaders spend more than half a day every week (14.4 per cent of their time) coaching and supervising poorly performing employees.

In order to help poorly performing employees meet expectations, the majority (56 per cent) of Hong Kong employers use coaching or mentoring strategies. Close to half (45 per cent) of Hong Kong employers would transfer an underperforming employee to another role and 42 per cent would offer further training.

“Identifying the areas where employees are not meeting expectations and implementing appropriate measures early are key to minimising the costs of underperformance,” says Elaine Lam, Associate Director of Robert Half Hong Kong. “Efficiency and responsiveness around managing poorly performing employees will reduce financial and non-financial costs to businesses while managers and leaders won’t spend as much of their valuable time on protracted training and supervision processes.”

From a financial perspective, the cost of underperformance could include an employee’s salary that does not reflect expected output, paid time for mentoring and supervision, additional training costs, lost revenue from missed business opportunities, costs linked to letting an employee go, and the ultimate costs of rehiring.

Underperformance among employees can also bring a series of non-financial costs to businesses, such as a negative impact on the corporate culture and staff morale, and damage to company reputation. The impacts of underperformance can also spread beyond an individual employee and their own role – placing a great deal of pressure on managers and colleagues who may shoulder an additional workload and accompanying pressure to compensate for the underperforming employee.

Lam adds: “As companies turn their attention to growth and profitability, every employee should demonstrate measurable results towards the company’s development and strategic goals. In a competitive market it is highly important to act quickly and proactively to mitigate the impacts of an underperforming employee as they arise.”

Faced with a skills-short market where talented candidates are in high demand, staff retention is a high priority of Hong Kong businesses. It is unsurprising then that the least popular response to underperformance is letting the employee go (25 per cent).

“While the idea of letting an employee go might be what first comes to mind, Hong Kong business leaders understand the high costs of vacant roles and repeating hiring processes. Offering additional support, spending more time on the onboarding process or assigning alternative roles are usually more viable options that are considered first,” says Lam.

 

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