CityU professor will measure feelings in the workplace

Peter Ho

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Hong Kong has never been short of indices, particularly in the economic and business arena. We have, for example, the Hang Seng Index to gauge the volatility of its stock market. CityU's Department of Management Sciences, in co-operation with Centaline Property Agency Ltd, produces the Centaline Index to record the ups and downs of the local residential property market. 

But unlike Europe-where a Eurobarometer exists to measure citizens' general satisfaction towards their socio-economic well being-Hong Kong has always lacked an index that reflects quality of life and work life in the region.

Now, to fill this void, Professor Leung Kwok, CityU's Chair Professor and Acting Head of the Management Department, is determined to unveil the territory's first Quality of Work Life Index. With funding from the Faculty of Business, Professor Leung plans to bring the index to life in two to three years' time. Twice a year, the index will shed light on how satisfied the people of Hong Kong are about their work life. The index will include, for example, how people feel about opportunities for learning and career advancement, level of benefits and compensation, and interpersonal relationships in the workplace. The index, when widely accepted, will become an indispensable reference tool for the analysis of social trends and the formulation of public policy. "Increasing dissatisfaction with management among survey respondents, for example, will augur an increase in labour disputes," Professor Leung explained.

And if employees report a general lack of learning opportunities on the job, greater job mobility can be expected in society. The index, according to Professor Leung, can later be broken down into sub-indices, and against these benchmarks corporations can measure their performances. Professor Leung's department can then help in advising these companies on corporate audits, strategy formulation and business process re-engineering.

"But for now, we'll first conduct some pilot studies in Hong Kong to determine the ultimate scope of investigation," said Professor Leung, whose research areas lie in organizational learning and cross-cultural psychology. If necessary, he will collaborate with social researchers from other disciplines to make the index comprehensive, but at the moment, he and his colleagues in the Department of Management will try to lay down the parameters of their study.

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