Q&A with Carman Lai: Staff Benefits and Evolving Employee Needs


Carman Lai, Head of People at Pizza Express, Hong Kong Limited)

Carman Lai is a highly experienced and empathetic leader who has been instrumental in driving the vision and values of her organization. With over 20 years of experience in the F&B sector, she has managed teams in various renowned restaurants both locally and overseas.

During the last three years, Carman faced significant challenges, as did many others in the industry. However, she rose to the occasion and ensured that her organization’s employees were well taken care of and supported to the best of her ability. Her commitment to the well-being and development of her team members is evident in her approach to people management.

Carman’s ability to navigate through adversity and prioritize the needs of her employees highlights her exceptional leadership skills. Her experience and expertise in the F&B sector have undoubtedly contributed to her success in managing and supporting her team during challenging times.

Pauline Mei Ling Williams, the Director of Atrium, had the opportunity to have a conversation with Carman Lai to gather her insights on staff benefits and what she considers during the review process.

During their discussion, Carman shared her views on staff benefits and the factors she looks for when conducting a review. This conversation likely provided valuable insights and perspectives on how to optimize the benefits program within the organization.

By engaging with Carman, Pauline Mei Ling Williams demonstrated Atrium HR Consulting’s commitment to understanding the needs and preferences of the employees and ensuring that the benefits program aligns with those requirements. This proactive approach to gathering feedback from key stakeholders helps in creating a benefits package that is attractive and valuable to the employees.

When conducting a benefits review, there are several important factors to consider. The top three most important things to look for are:

1. Cost of each employee: It is crucial to assess the cost of providing benefits to each employee. This includes not just the direct costs of the benefits themselves, but also any administrative costs associated with managing the benefits program.

2. Attractiveness to employees: The benefits offered should be attractive and valuable to employees. This can be determined by gathering feedback and responses from employees regarding their satisfaction with the current benefits package.

3. Market Research for reference: It is important to conduct market research to stay informed about industry standards and trends in benefits offerings. This will help ensure that the organization remains competitive in attracting and retaining top talent.

In the ever-changing benefits landscape, there are additional considerations that organizations need to consider compared to three years ago. Some crucial factors to consider include:

1. Budget: With the changing economic environment, organizations may need to reevaluate their budget for benefits. It is important to ensure that the benefits program remains financially sustainable and aligned with the organization’s overall financial goals.

2. Competitive engagement rate: Organizations need to focus on benefits that not only attract employees but also engage them. High employee engagement leads to increased productivity and retention. It is crucial to assess the effectiveness of the benefits program in driving employee engagement and make necessary adjustments.

3. Evolving employee needs: Employee needs and preferences for benefits may change over time. Organizations should regularly assess and understand the evolving needs of their workforce to ensure that the benefits program remains relevant and meets the expectations of employees.

By considering these factors, organizations can conduct a comprehensive benefits review and make informed decisions to optimize their benefits program.