Surekha Ragavan
Feb 9, 2022

‘Too many meetings’ and ‘non-urgent work’ causes of overtime: PRHK

The PR industry in Hong Kong is clear about the causes and consequences of overtime, yet a majority of them are not communicating their frustrations to their managers, according to a survey.


PR association PRHK runs an annual survey to understand the industry’s work-life balance situation in Hong Kong. Here are five takeaways from the findings of its most recent survey.

Overtime is ‘normal’

Over 75% of survey respondents stated that overtime both in the PR industry and in Hong Kong in general, was ‘normal’ and ‘expected’. More than 60% of agency staff said they sometimes need to work over the weekends and holidays, with 17% always working during those periods.

A quarter of respondents claimed they work overtime at least three times a week with more than half of those doing so every single week. Over half work more than 10 hours a day consistently. Plus, 65% do not think they are fairly compensated for overtime.

Causes of overtime are clear

Contrary to popular assumption, only 6% of respondents defined client requests as unnecessary overtime. The main gripe from respondents seemed to be ‘time management’ such as internal meetings starting late or meetings being scheduled in the afternoon, leaving no time to do actual work that day. In fact, ‘non-urgent work’ contributed as one major reason for overtime, alongside ‘too many meetings’.

Overtime is leading to health issues

A staggering 70% of respondents have said they have experienced negative physical or mental symptoms resulting from working overtime including anxiety, difficulty sleeping, inability to enjoy downtime and exhaustion. Despite this, a majority of respondents have never spoken to their seniors about overtime, but the reasons for this are unclear.

Employees want to see operational efficiencies

Respondents expressed that proper resource allocation is needed as well as ensuring scope of work and budgets accurately reflect the hours employees needed to complete tasks. Other suggestions included identifying technology that could reduce mundane tasks and exploring ways to enhance productivity during office hours.

Employees want flexible working arrangements

Nearly all respondents said that flexible working arrangements could help them manage their time better and improve their mental health. This entails a WFH arrangement once or twice a week so that they can better manage personal time and well-being alongside work tasks.

However, WFH is a double-edged sword for others, as family responsibilities, home working conditions, and technology issues can make it a less productive or stressful experience.

As a response to the survey findings, Karolis Adomaitis, vice president at FleishmanHillard, said that PRHK will be using the data to create a playbook.

“The goal is to help agencies put in place a set of best practices. We will also investigate how we can help agencies prepare for change, to manage overtime issues and to reduce unnecessary overtime,” he said.

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