VSL and Cityray

About VSL Group

VSL is a part of Bouygues group in France. It is a leader in the field of specialist construction engineering. It provides technical consultancy and support for the full range of works from project planning to final design completion, construction engineering and on-site activities. VSL operates through 50 locations as a world-wide network, including production facilities, with 4,100 employees, including 900 engineers and technicians.
VSL’s global network comprises local offices in 36 countries worldwide. They are grouped by regions: The Asia and Pacific region, the Central Europe and Middle East region and the Iberian Peninsula, South Africa and Latin America region.

VSL Values
VSL has five core business values. Respect for people: They empower, listen to and take care of their people. Performance: They are dedicated to generating positive results for their clients, while effectively managing risk. Creativity: They encourage and reward innovation that creates value for clients. Reliability and transparency: Their people act ethically, take responsibility, and ‘walk the talk’ at all times. Company culture: they always act within the law, and take decisions that ensure they can continue to be proud of them.

What HR system does VSL look for?
The Bouygues group has 4 companies in Hong Kong: intrafor, Dragages, BYME and VSL. Miss Stephanie Dechelette - Hong Kong Regional Human Resources Manager described the Asia construction industry as very active. The blooming of Asian countries such as Indonesia and Thailand requires a constant recruitment for field workers and employees. Also, VSL headquarter is located in Hong Kong. Therefore, VSL Hong Kong is looking for a comprehensive HR system with a large database storage as well as a strict compliance with the HK policy. In addition, VSL stressed on promoting internal mobility for workers in terms of both geographic and job position, there will be a lot of future integration such as exchanging people with the company while still under the same policy. Miss Dechelette foresees that Intrafor and VSL will be working more closely together in the future, so a comprehensive system for organizing HR related works is important for VSL. In that case, Cityray system can help in achieving decentralized management of multi-regional enterprise group as well as multi enterprise group.

Difficulties encountered in HK
VSL sees the Asian market as very active, it accounts a big part for the business, especially when Europe was experiencing a crisis. Miss Dechelette claimed that, the difficulty they encountered is recruitment, which is to find the right people with good skills and to put them in the right position. To deal with the problem, VSL forged close and special relationships with secondary schools, universities and engineering schools through scholarships, event sponsorship, work site visits and internships, etc. On the other hand, staff retention has been an important issue in today’s highly competitive market. Miss Dechelette exclaimed that the turnover rate is high because salary market in construction industry is relatively high. It is not hard to find another similar job with a higher salary. Therefore, it is common for workers to switch to another company after working 1 or 2 years. To control turnover, VSL set a salary benchmark so the salary they provide will be average in the market. Furthermore, Miss Dechelette explained it is important to attract workers with something stronger than money only in order to retain them. For example, to provide them with good career development. VSL sees training as an integral part of the Group’s human resources strategy. Since VSL Academy creation, 1300 employees have benefited from its two training modules: Project Manager Excellence and General Manager Excellence. Speaking of that, training section can be easily recorded individually in Cityray system, which can be retrieved and looked up anytime. On the other hand, VSL promotes geographic mobility. As the Group contributes in different kinds of project worldwide, an international career is possible for employees. Every business unit promotes the exchange of experience and expertise, and courage both geographic and job mobility.

Opinion on HK government
Miss Dechelette commented that Hong Kong regulations is relatively simple, flexible and open, compared to France. Human and employment relations are simplified in terms of taxes, charges and local regulations, she added. For example, employees working over-time in Hong Kong is common, but in France, overtime working might result in fines and it requires a long handling process. By using Cityray system, overtime hours can be systematically recorded and then accurately calculated for payroll. However, Miss Dechelette thinks that flexibility is important in construction industry because they need to change and adapt the number of staff from time to time in relation to the size of construction activity. In general, Miss Dechelette thinks the Hong Kong government ordinance is positive for foreign companies. However, she hopes the government can be more relaxed on granting working visa for foreigners. She realized it is not easy for lower level workers who do not have a high qualification or diploma to obtain a visa. In addition, after a project is completed, VSL might want to keep the employees to work on a future project. As an aside, Cityray system has alert functions such as visa or passport expiry reminder. With a valid and flexible visa, it becomes possible for VSL to better retain people for future use.