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A comprehensive just-released report Working in Asia Pacific 2020, has shed light on how well people managers have performed during this year’s pandemic, as assessed by those that are best placed to judge – the employees.

Executive search firm Profile interviewed 5200 employees for the survey – 94% of which were drawn from Hong Kong, mainland China, Singapore and Australia.

According to the report, “Over the last few decades we have seen HR functions excel in
the face of crises and as such, they have been rewarded with more credible, high profile positions within organisations. Has the work done by HR during the last few months enlarged this seat at the table?”

The results spoke for themselves, returning an emphatic ‘yes’.

In Hong Kong, 32% of those surveyed believe that HR professionals in the city had “enhanced their reputation somewhat” through their handling of the pandemic, while 7% said they had “very much enhanced it”.

Although a strong endorsement for HR practitioners in Hong Kong, it was slightly down on some of the other jurisdictions examined.

Has HR enhanced its reputation during the pandemic?
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“In total, 41% of respondents thought their HR function had enhanced their reputation, but nearly a fifth thought HR’s reputation had actually been tarnished by their handling of the crisis,” the report stated.

“In Australia particularly, HR’s good work has been very much appreciated and noted.”

In terms of leadership, respondents felt leaders performed satisfactorily, although their performance was rated much higher in Australia and North America.

“This geographical inconsistency may be due to the fact that leaders in Australia and North America were not the first to deal with the crisis, as they were in Asia, so there was time to react, prepare and take heed,” observed the report.

How do you rate your company's leadership during the pandemic?
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Employees from different jurisdictions also reported mixed results when asked if they were more productive when working from home. In Hong Kong, 24% said they were more productive – but 33% said they were less productive.

According to the report, “A third say they are indeed more productive but an equal number say they’re about the same and the final third say they are actually less productive, citing children running around, unstable internet and small spaces shared with other family members”.

“In Asia, particularly in China, respondents felt markedly less productive working from home than in Australia and North America.”

How would you rate your productivity during work from home?
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