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February 16th 2022





9 February 2022 –  PRHK today announced the results of a new survey investigating and uncovering the most up to date picture of the PR industry’s work-life balance situation in Hong Kong with the key findings showing the industry needs to work harder to address unnecessary overtime.

The Current Situation: Overtime as Expected and the Norm

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

25% claimed they work overtime at least three times a week with more than half of those that doing so every single week. Over 50% work more than 10 hours a day consistently. Aside from what appears to be an obvious issue with working hours, 65% do not think they are fairly compensated for overtime.

The Causes: Unnecessary Overtime Viewed as Operational Issues and Lack of Prioritisation

Respondents ranked the top three causes of working longer than expected hours as:

  • People and planning (36.5%), including covering colleagues’ work and unrealistic deadlines
  • Non-urgent work (25%)
  • Too many meetings (13.5%)

Last-minute requests were also referenced, but interestingly, only 6% of respondents defined client requests as unnecessary overtime. Bespoke comments unveiled gripes with time management, for example, internal meetings starting late or meetings being scheduled in the afternoon, leaving no time to do the actual work that day. Despite the very obvious causes of unnecessary overtime, 60% of agency respondents have never spoken to their seniors about the issue, although the reason why is unclear.


The Consequence: Taking a Toll on Mental and Physical Health

More than 70% of respondents said they had experienced negative physical or mental symptoms resulting from working overtime including, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, inability to enjoy downtime, and exhaustion, amongst others.

The Future of a Positive Working Environment: Operational Efficiencies, Policies and Flexibility

Respondents see the need to enhance operational efficiencies, encourage flexibility and develop policies/commitments to limiting unnecessary overtime as core areas to address:

Operational Efficiencies

  • Respondents said 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



  • More than 90% of respondents said that flexible working arrangements could help them manage their time better and improve mental health
  • Some respondents said working from home (WFH) at least once or twice a week could improve their mental health and help them manage their personal time and well-being
  • However, some pointed out that successful WFH or flexible working was dependent upon having already established high levels of trust with colleagues. WFH is a double-edged sword for others, as family responsibilities, home working conditions, and technology issues can make it a less productive and stressful experience


  • According to respondents, the ideal scenario for an average week would be to work 45 hours / 9 hours a day, and work from home 1-2 days

Jane Morgan, PRHK NGL Sponsor, MD of Golin Hong Kong and Head of Client Services Asia, comments: “We know that agencies in Hong Kong have varying takes on work-life balance, and no one has it 100% right yet. This data gives us a very clear direction and path to take to make things better for our people. It’s time we came together, to share best practices and to hold ourselves accountable. The repercussions if we don’t are obvious. We need to give our people the time they need to do the work that they and their clients are proud of, then to go off and enjoy their personal time, as stress free as possible. Our industry has always been one of uncertainty, with crisis and issues, new business pitches, launch events etc., and often we need to work long hours, but it shouldn’t  consistent and there should always be a recovery period.”

Karolis Adomaitis, Vice President at FleishmanHillard and a member of NGL comments: “This research shows us the need for stronger industry guidelines around managing working hours and productivity. As a next step, we will be using the data provided by Hong Kong’s PR processionals via feedback 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. It’s a big step, but a step in the right direction towards positive change.”

The PRHK’s Next Generation Leaders aim to have a playbook ready for distribution to all PRHK members in March 2022, alongside an accreditation to display indicating to employees, new joiners and stakeholders, they are part of this positive work-life balance movement.



Notes to editors:

Introducing PRHK’s Next Generation Leaders

PRHKs Next Generation Leaders (NGL) instigated the survey as part of their mission to drive change in the work-life balance space for the communications industry at large. The team comprises representatives from international, local, independent and holding group agencies with key leads; Karolis Adomaitis, Vice President at FleishmanHillard; Carol Yeung, Vice President at Golin; Sara Cheung, Associate Director at Edelman and Penn Leung, Director at Creative Consulting Group.

The online survey was taken by PR professionals from international, regional and local agencies in Hong Kong.


About PRHK

PRHK is the forward-looking industry organisation for PR and communications professionals in Hong Kong. It represents, champions, promotes and supports the Hong Kong public relations and communications industry, its professionals, its affiliates, its academic institutions and their students. PRHK is a forum for discussion, learning and networking; an advocate for the industry and monitor of best practices within it; an interface between industry, academia, the business community, government and affiliated media and marketing sectors; and a point of entry for overseas companies, individuals and associations into Hong Kong’s PR scene.  Established as the Council of Public Relations Firms of Hong Kong (CPRFHK) in 2001, the organisation was rebranded to PRHK in 2018. Visit www.prhongkong.org or follow on Facebook and LinkedIn at @PRhongkong.


Media Contacts

Annouchka Behrmann – Chairperson | annouchka.behrmann@edelman.com

Carbo Yu – Deputy Chairperson | carbo@sinclaircomms.com