Talent Development at One of Hong Kong's Largest Telcos
An inside look into the culture at Hong Kong Broadband Network.
Aligning Interests at HKBN
We focus on three aspects: our core purpose, Co-Ownership and Talent-first culture.
Firstly, with HKBN’s core purpose to “Make our Hong Kong a Better Place to Live”, our business is built on creating a positive social impact and upon delivering this, profits will follow; we consider profits to be a by-product rather than the only factor which drive us.
Our company has a very long-established history of pioneering disruptive innovations, breaking down monopolies in the telecom industry for the benefit of Hong Kong, such as being a new entrant leader in fibre broadband deployment in the early 2000s. Apart from working for HKBN, our Talents are also working for the betterment of Hong Kong society, which gives us a sense of purpose beyond just performing well at our jobs.
Secondly, our alignment also comes from having our supervisors-and-above level Talents become Co-Owners. We have chosen to invest two to 12 months of salary into HKBN, aiming to grow together with the company. To align our interests with shareholders and to ensure we take responsibility and ownership, we put skin in the game to drive the company to further levels of achievement. Apart from this natural alignment of interest, being a Co-Owner is also an identity, which shows how our Talents stand out from being typical employees.
Thirdly, we run a Talent-first culture because our Talents deliver the goods to our customers, investors, and other stakeholders. We champion LIFE-work priority instead of work-life balance for our Talents and their families and continuous learning for Talents at all levels. We run our company for results rather than number of hours worked. Our Co-Ownership scheme is designed to spread income equality by allowing a much wider base to align family wealth creation with our shareholder-value creation. This high level of engagement helps align interests.
Defining effective employee engagement
At HKBN, we call ourselves Talents, not employees or staff. We foster open and direct dialogue.
We hold town hall meetings at least twice a year for all our Talents in Hong Kong and Guangzhou, which allow our senior management to share the latest business directions and enlist support from all Talents. We also hold monthly management meetings for all supervisory-and-above level Talents, where business updates and experiences learnt as a group and individually are shared openly, with a view to breaking down silos and fostering business and professional growth. We embrace teamwork and life-long learning; we organise annual experiential management trips to inspire our managerial Talents with a range of unique experiences, and support educational sponsorship to cultivate Talents.
When Talent engagement measures are effective, messages and expectations spread quickly and transparently, which facilitates long-term sustainability for the business and our Talents.
Solving current HR challenges
Due to a strong alignment of interests, this has helped ensure our business and Talents grow. With our unique culture, we have successfully engaged our Talents and built up our brand.
While this has eased the pressure on some common HR challenges, we still face a war for talent. We are proud to recruit high calibre Talents, yet we recognise that poaching happens. This is why we strongly believe in succession planning and Talent development. Over the last few years, we have focused on developing leaders who empower and can lead through disruption. When a Talent inevitably departs HKBN, we have a team member ready to step up.
We believe that our Legal Unfair Competitive Advantage (LUCA) is our people. Everything else can be copied when given enough time and money. With enough time (we incurred seven years of HKBN start-up negative free cash flow) and enough money (over HK$8 billion invested capital), others can copy our fibre network, but it is impossible to copy our people. It is our Talents who have built and live the unique culture at HKBN.