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Lotus positions itself wisely
Published on Friday, 24 Feb 2012
Patrick Kong
Vice-chairman and CEO, Lotus Tours
Photo: Lotus Tours

HOW DO YOU BOOST STAFF ENGAGEMENT IN A FAMILY-RUN BUSINESS?

Established in 1957, Lotus Tours is one of a handful of local Chinese-owned travel service providers in Hong Kong that is family owned. Today, it is one of the top International Air Transport Association (IATA) travel agents and, since 2010, has maintained annual ticket sales within the top three positions in the Hong Kong travel industry. Out of every 100 tickets sold in the city, 11 are issued by Lotus.

Throughout the years, inspiring staff and being socially responsible have been company core values. 

Strategy

Our human resources (HR) policies are built upon promoting harmonious workplace relations, opportunities for employee development, and corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

At Lotus, people are our most important asset. We believe in encouraging everyone to develop themselves to their full potential, and to take on responsibilities and new challenges.

Since the early 1990s, we have been organising overseas staff outings during good business years to thank our employees for their hard work, and to celebrate all of our past successes.

Starting from the Taiwan company outing in 2011, trips have been combined with employee development and test-marketing practices to offer staff members the chance to experience newly-designed travel routes, so that they can share their personal experiences with customers to enhance the quality of client service while enjoying themselves.

Comments from staff members about these different routes are taken into consideration for the design of future tour packages.

To promote a caring culture in the workplace, we have adopted a family-friendly policy. We offer female staff year-long paid maternity leave, and male employees three months' paid paternity leave.

The company is active in charity work to help people in need, both locally and overseas. We collaborated with the Salvation Army Japan to donate 400 scarves made by Lotus Tours staff to victims of the 11 March tsunami, while spreading the message that Tokyo is a safe travel destination.

Our staff also participated in a fundraising bicycle tour in Taiwan. Locally, we've delivered blankets and moon cakes to the elderly living alone, and we make regular donations to international non-government organisations such as World Vision, ORBIS and Oxfam.

I take feedback from staff seriously and encourage them to speak out. Using information technology, we now provide an e-learning intranet platform where employees can post suggestions.  

Impact

The implementation of the policy has made employees feel more appreciated and cared for, while their sense of belonging and morale have been greatly enhanced as a result.

The extended maternity and paternity leave, as well as the education allowance, have met the needs of staff and have won praise. 

I feel that inter-departmental relationships have also been enhanced after arranging different interest classes and activities to manage stress. 

I am proud that despite the financial climate, the company hasn't laid off a single member of staff in recent years.

We are a very loyal team, and more than 30 per cent of our entire workforce has been with us for more than 10 years. 

Future plans

My father, Kong Ho-pak, founder of Lotus Tours, believes that for a family business to be sustainable, the company should be owned by its managers, and be managed by its owners.

As a second-generation owner of the company who shares my father's philosophy, I plan to implement an "Employee Share Ownership Scheme" which will ultimately dilute the family's ownership share to less than

50 per cent. And our HR policies will continue to position us as among the most caring companies in Hong Kong.

We plan to upgrade our staff benefits through an "Employee Wellness Programme", including a free biennial medical check-up, and a cash subsidy incentive for staff who exercise.

In terms of CSR, we will organise more frequent voluntary activities by encouraging employees and their families to participate during their time off.

These activities lend satisfaction and build team spirit.

Patrick Kong, vice-chairman and CEO, Lotus Tours

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