Newsletter Q1 2022
Newsletter Q1 2022
In this edition of the Gemini Newsletter, we are going to talk about mental stress people get under a hybrid working pattern, the "lying flat" syndrome in China, while Singapore is revamping their expat visa policy and Thailand is ready to bounce back from Covid! You may also download the latest 2022 Q1 Gemini salary guide and last but not least, Gemini will be launching new websites for our Visa division and HR consulting division! Scroll down and find out more!

- 2022 HR priorities & needs -

- The lying flat phenomenon -

- Expat visa system overhaul -

- Going forward in 2022 -

Hong Kong - China - Singapore - Thailand
Hong Kong
Working hybrid and feeling disconnected?

Working hybrid and feeling disconnected? You’re not alone.

According to research done by Bain & Company, only 22% of frontline workers report feeling connected to others. Given that connection has a huge impact on (a) individual well-being and (b) the ability to stay resilient and navigate change, knowing how to overcome or address the issue of disconnection is huge, both at the individual and company level.

Humans are wired to connect, and being snubbed can feel as painful (if not more) than physical pain. As such, having been through two years of the pandemic, followed by the current situation where hybrid working conditions seem to be the norm, disconnection can feel downright painful.

How then can we overcome this disconnect, given the current context? The answer to this is not straightforward, and depends quite a bit on one’s unique situation, but here are some ideas to get us started.

At the individual level

One of the things we can all do is to be conscious connectors. This means being intentional about connecting with others. Pre-covid, we probably saw our co-workers everyday and thus didn’t feel the need to connect with intention. We also had lots more spontaneous moments in the pantry, walking to meetings, and so on.

Such micro-moments of connection — emotions resonating with the other generating positive feelings and breaking down barriers, allowing us to see the whole person. Experiencing these micro-moments goes a long way in boosting our well-being.

Here are some ways you can do it:

Identify some co-workers whom you have not connected purposefully with for awhile (could be from your team, other departments, or other regions). Perhaps you had a fleeting thought about them, or saw that they had posted something on LinkedIn, and you intended to comment (but didn’t).

Reach out with a message about catching up. This could be face-to-face (if your home country restrictions allow) or even a short virtual catchup, with a coffee/tea in hand.

Be present in each other’s presence. This could mean, putting aside the phone or minimising distractions around you. In that moment, focus on the other person and come from a place of curiosity and being interested. Sometimes, because we are nervous or don’t like silence, we tend to talk too much and that ends up being a one-way conversation.

When you’ve finished, share what you’ve appreciated about them (or the conversation). If you’d like to add a cherry on the cake, you may even take a picture to capture the moment!

At the manager level

If you manage a team or department, you can make a huge difference to bridging this disconnect:

Empathise and see things from their perspective. Some have been isolated for a long time, away from family members; some have gotten used to the comforts of home, and re-entry into face to face meetings might feel awkward; some are just exhausted and stressed out.

Spend time to listen. Whether it is their concerns, feedback, or them needing some advice, listening can really help to build that connection. This means trying to understand the situation as objectively as possible, refraining from judgement. When you listen well, your team member will feel valued, heard, and supported. They will also know that you care beyond just getting them to do the work.

Acknowledge and appreciate. When trying to hit deadlines, and facing a lot of pressure from your own superiors, you might forget to devote attention to acknowledging the work done by your team, or appreciating the effort they have put in.

However, when you take the time to recognise their efforts and appreciate their strengths, they will feel that their effort is justified.

Bring some fun into the daily routine. It will not be uncommon for your team members to be rushing from one meeting to another. Instead of starting your meeting with “What’s on the agenda?” or “What must we complete by today?”, inject some fun such as a quick Kahoot! Quiz, or an ice breaker like 2 truths 1 lie. Getting to know each other (and not just how each other works) can help to strengthen connection.

At the company level

Thinking about connection on a large scale, such as across the company, across regions—sometimes involving hundreds or thousands of people—can be daunting.

It would be easier to think of this broad guideline: consider a multi-prong, cascading approach.

Multi-prong means that you design a variety of solutions, with further segmenting according to the groups with specific needs, the general population and/or the region.

Cascading means, that there is a flow of how connection is going to happen (instead of assuming it will “naturally” happen), such that eventually, everyone has the experience of connecting with and hearing from a trusted manager or supervisor.

Here are some ideas:

For groups with specific needs, consider the difference between people who have just been onboarded (and remotely) and a people who have been around for more than a decade – their needs for connection will likely be different.

For example, people new to the company may need more touch points and assurance that they can assimilate despite being in hybrid working conditions. People who have been around for more than a decade, may want more autonomy to build their own projects, or create their own communities. In other words, more ownership over how they connect.

For the broader population, create the infrastructure for connection to be easily accessible and relevant. For example:

Leveraging existing platforms e.g. town halls, team huddles, tea with senior management etc, can be a good way to get a sense of how people are doing.

Identifying and creating a network of ambassadors on the ground who can listen to what’s happening around them, provide support or resources to help people get unstuck, or think of informal ways to bring people together.

Empowering your managers with training to learn how to empathise, create safety within the teams, and let them innovate some new ways to connect e.g setting up their own chat group, or makan (eating) sessions while back in office.

For regions, given that different regions have different cultures, you may want to consider connection in ways that are appropriate for their culture.

For example, Kiwis love rugby football, so beginning a conversation or using rugby terms/language may be a way to foster connection quickly. Each region has also varying degrees of hybrid. Some might be 100% remote still, while others have the opportunity to meet face to face.

They could also be at different parts of the pandemic journey, with some facing more restrictions than others. Hence a greater level of support and intentionality may be needed for some regions.

Being intentional

As you read through the above, you’ll notice a common thread: people want and have a basic need to forge connections.

It comes back to being intentional about creating space for that to happen and fostering a sense of belonging in the team and the company. No one should have to feel that they are all alone, and suffering through these volatile times by themselves.

Content provided by Intellect, Gemini’s partner on mental health & wellbeing.

Gemini 2022 HR priorities & needs survey

At the beginning of 2022, we asked a selection of our clients based in Hong Kong to participate in a survey and share their needs and priorities regarding digital training. The survey covered areas like how regularly our clients use digital training products, do they rely on in-house training products or external providers, and most importantly which are the areas of training they would like to focus on in 2022. In this article we’ll share a few snippets of the insights, should you wish to have the full findings report please speak with us.

Results show that even in Hong Kong, a market where more traditional and face-to-face training solutions used to be preferred in the past, there has been a clear shift in mindset over the past two year, a shift made necessary by the pandemic but also and more importantly now widely accepted by employees. Over 75% of the respondents strongly agree that the pandemic has increased employee acceptance of online digital training, while overwhelmingly, 93% respondents are onboard with digital training and are planning to use more digital training tools in the future. The digital training trend is clearly being embraced in an unequivocal way.

In terms of delivering the training, there is little appetite from employers for developing the tools needed in-house and 76% plan to rely on external vendors. This is a challenge few companies are willing to undertake on their own and partnering with the right vendor is key. Although most respondents are on-board with digital training, a hybrid approach (classroom + virtual) is still the most desired, showing corporates are not fully committed to digital solutions yet, and most clients feel their employees should commit 1-2 hours per week on digital training.

Leadership development, strategic thinking and people management are the most sought after soft skills training by the respondents, and with the pandemic showing no signs to slowing down, compounded with the increasingly concerning talent shortage faced by organisations in Hong Kong through emigration and travel restrictions, Gemini reckon demand for digitised upskilling and reskilling solutions, as well as talent and leadership development programmes will keep surging for the next few years. On the talent acquisition perspective, companies will look to hire agile and multi-talented employees so they can maintain their competitiveness in this ever-changing business environment.

Speak to Gemini if you wish to know more about the digital training solutions we can offer.

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