Posted by Elena Luk'yanenko
Elena Luk'yanenko
Elena has more than five years of experience in international marketing providing services for the foreign com...
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on Thursday, 15 January 2009
in Business in China

Recruiting and retaining talent in China

Recruiting staff is one of the most challenging issues facing Western business in China, as companies compete to attract qualified people. Retaining them after they have been recruited has also been a well known challenge.

Perhaps more so than in other markets, perception and reality can be strikingly different. The perception is that employees are motivated solely by how much money they earn and that they will leave jobs at the drop of a hat, if someone offers them more money.
When it comes to senior managers, the biggest issue is a severe shortage of talent. For middle managers, there is now a growing pool of candidates, but still, demand exceeds supply. The lack of supply, in turn, is creating a significant rise in salary costs in recent years.

Many organizations still offer compensation as a means to ensuring employee retention, despite development opportunities being recognized as the most effective tool.

In today’s knowledge economy, we continue to see a critical-skills shortage of top talent. A company's on-going ability to attract and retain key talent is vital to executing long-term business strategies.

  • In economic downturns, managing talent by setting realistic goals, measuring achievement and results, and leveraging talent across the organization is needed to keep the organization evolving.
  • Enhancing employee development by offering new assignments serves as a great retention tool.
  • At the same time, continued performance management and merit reward programs to reinforce employee productivity is critical.

It is also important to realize that internal promotion may be considered more important for many employees than changing jobs to a higher level. Bringing employees into an organization at a lower level and moving them up the ladder quickly can be a good management technique, demonstrating respect and employee engagement.

This approach also makes business sense. Those businesses that devote resources to retaining staff through career development find the approach to be more cost, time and business-effective than those that simply focus on recruitment. A commonly held misconception is that because China has an abundance of people, anyone leaving a job can easily be replaced.

However, the key to businesses’ success is understanding the Chinese culture, values and working practices, which are very different than those in the West. If foreign-owned companies take time to understand the cultural value and importance attached to career development, they can begin to develop effective attraction, retention and engagement policies.

Organizations need to understand the ‘push and pull’ factors that influence employees’ decisions. They should develop an integrated approach to employee attraction and retention if they are to compete for talent, particularly at the management and executive levels.

The HR goals in China are the same as elsewhere in the world; for those that can develop new approaches for the same ends, and turn cultural differences into a help rather than a barrier, there is virtually no limit to the growth they can enjoy.

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