A recent survey conducted by Robert Walters Hong Kong, a renowned global specialist professional recruitment consultancy, has unveiled a startling trend among Hong Kong professionals. More than half of the city’s workforce is considering or actively planning to leave Hong Kong. The study, which captured the sentiments of 107 professionals across various industries, reveals the driving factors and concerns behind this mass exodus.
Immediate and Future Relocations on the Horizon
Among the respondents, a significant 15.6% expressed a pressing desire to depart from Hong Kong as soon as possible. An even larger portion, constituting 36.7%, is contemplating an overseas move within the next 3-5 years. This data paints a picture of a workforce that is seriously considering alternatives to their current Hong Kong-based careers.
Generational Divide in Relocation Aspirations
When examining the demographics, the survey highlighted interesting generational differences. Of those planning to work abroad, 51% fell into the Millennial age group (27-42 years old), while 38% belonged to Generation X (43-58 years old). This generational divide underscores a diverse range of motivations and circumstances propelling professionals to seek opportunities abroad.
John Mullally, Managing Director at Robert Walters Hong Kong, expressed concern about the extent of the exodus, saying, “The desire to work overseas and gain international experience is not new, especially among young people, but it’s concerning to see such a large percentage of Hong Kong professionals considering leaving the city. As employers, we need to ensure that we are doing everything we can to retain our top talent, and this means offering opportunities for growth and development, as well as competitive compensation and benefits packages.”
Preparation for an Overseas Transition
The survey also revealed that 96% of professionals planning an overseas move have already taken steps to prepare for their transition. The most common tactic among them was seeking positions in multinational companies, a choice made by 60% of respondents. Meanwhile, 40% have already begun applying for overseas jobs, showing proactive efforts in realizing their international career aspirations. Others have started by upskilling, training, or pursuing further education (31%), exploring internal mobility opportunities (27%), and even contemplating career changes (27%).
John added, “On the positive side, it is impressive to see professionals’ desire to gain international exposure in today’s globalized and competitive world. This can help them develop a broader vision, a stronger determination, and a richer network, which are valuable assets for any business.”
Prioritizing Job Security in Uncertain Times
Interestingly, when asked about their career priorities, 31% of respondents considering overseas work cited job security as their top concern, surpassing compensation and benefits (29%). Beyond these two factors, professionals emphasized the importance of career progression, team culture, and internal mobility for their personal and professional growth.
Employers are urged to acknowledge the evolving expectations of their workforce, particularly during times of economic uncertainty. John emphasized, “Moving abroad is not an easy decision. If what professionals want is to gain international experience for career growth or broaden their minds, there are employers that can facilitate this.”
The survey encompassed professionals from diverse specializations, including accounting & finance, engineering & property, financial services, healthcare, human resources, legal & compliance, sales & marketing, supply chain, logistics & procurement, and tech & transformation. The findings offer a comprehensive insight into the shifting landscape of Hong Kong’s professional workforce and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.