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HKIHRM Survey Findings on Manpower Statistics

By the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management

• A drop in the full year turnover rate in 2020 demonstrates the workforce’s inclination to play safe and stay in their jobs.

• The annual vacancy rate takes a dip as COVID-19 dents organisations’ hiring sentiment.


Conducted between January and March 2021, the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management’s Manpower Statistics Survey for the year 2020 and second half of 2020 collected and analysed information from 42 companies, representing a total of 54,603 employees.

The survey captured turnover rates that were voluntary resignations, and excluded any turnover caused by voluntary or involuntary redundancy, dismissal, or retirement. The survey captured absence rates that were unscheduled absences of one day or more including sick leave (paid or no paid), emergency leave, and casual leave, and excluded wedding leave, annual leave, absence caused by work-related injury or accident, compassionate leave, approved study leave, jury duty, maternity leave, and industrial action.

Turnover rates and vacancy rates

Based on the survey, the second half of 2020 recorded a staff turnover rate of 6.2%, 0.7 percentage points lower than the corresponding figure in the same period last year. The 2020 full year turnover rate was 9.6%, a remarkable dip by 9.9 percentage points from 19.5% in 2019. The annual vacancy rate for 2020 was 3.1%, a decline by 4.0 percentage points compared with the same period last year. By employee level, clerical/frontline staff had the highest yearly turnover rate for 2020 at 14.3%. The yearly turnover rates for top/senior management, middle management/non-managerial professionals, and supervisory/officers were 7.9%, 7.2%, and 5.9% respectively.

Clerical/frontline staff also had the highest yearly average vacancy rate for 2020 at 3.8%. The yearly average vacancy rates for supervisory/officers, middle management/non-managerial professionals, and top/senior management were 3.4%, 2.7%, and 2.3% respectively.

New positions and positions cut

The survey documented a slight net growth in positions in the second half of 2020 by 0.3%. By employee level, the net growth rates for top/senior management, middle management/non-managerial professionals, supervisory/officers, and clerical/ frontline staff were -1.1%, 0.6%, 0.4%, and 0.4% respectively.

Absence rates

In the second half of 2020, the weighted average absence rate remained stable at 2.0%, a 0.4% drop compared with the same period last year which suggested that the workforce deployed presenteeism to hang onto employment. By employee level, the half yearly absence rates for the second half of 2020 were below 1.0 across the ranks. The absence rates for top/senior management, management/ non-managerial professionals, supervisory/officers, and clerical/frontline staff were 0.6%, 0.5%, 0.4%, and 0.9% respectively.


In the first half of 2021, more than half of the interviewed organisations (59.5%) stated that they would remain hiring as the same period last year while almost one-third (31%) said they would freeze hiring. 4.8% went as far as to say they intended to reduce hiring while a mere 4.8% indicated that they would increase hiring. Due to the lingering impact of COVID-19, the overall hiring intention was lukewarm in the first half of 2021. This had intensified employees’ fear of losing their livelihoods. Organisations can offer their staff with professional mental health care and other non-monetary rewards such as extra annual leaves to inject a sense of positivity, which is essential for rejuvenating the workplace for the post-COVID era.

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