6 Tips on How to Retain your Chinese Talent

This is our third article about recruitment in China. I would like to thank Yan Wu (yan.wu@jljgroup.com) from The JLJ Group who has prepared this post for us.

Tips on How to Retain your Chinese Talent

A sound talent retention plan is the key to sustaining one’s success in China. Without talent retention, continued implementation of strategies will be difficult and additional expenditures such as recruitment and training costs will be incurred.

1. Keep salaries competitive with market levels
Salaries often reflect one’s social status in China. Hence, better opportunities are often synonymous with higher salaries. This is a root cause behind the worker retention problem in China. In fact, many talented managers have been poached by competitors on the basis of higher salaries. Thus, it is extremely important to keep salaries competitive with market levels, especially for senior positions.

2. Initiate corporate training program
While competitive salaries offer a short-term solution to retaining talent, effective corporate training allows companies to align their long-term strategies with employees’ career goals. As foreign languages and specific skill sets are very relevant to one’s career progression, professional training in these areas tends to be highly sought after.

3. Provide career development opportunities
Career development is a primary motivation in exploring opportunities at other companies. Succession planning and talent rotation are, therefore, popular and effective tools for career development and employee retention.  Employees invest in the company when the company is investing in them. These retention programs help to identify those with the potential to assume greater responsibility and also to keep the top talent in the organization. However, employers should be careful with mentorship program. Mentors often withhold important skills and knowledge from their apprentices in order to secure their own positions in the company.

4. Develop a sense of ‘family’ through organizational culture
In general, Chinese employees prefer flexible organizations that place greater emphasis on interpersonal relationships. This allows room for creativity and creates a friendly working environment on the basis of helping each other instead of following orders. Thus, it will be beneficial for foreign companies to adapt their cultures and inculcate a greater sense of ‘family’ in their China offices. This will create a sense of belonging to the company and instil greater teamwork among the employees.

5. Keep genuine relationship with employees
Just as relationships are important in managing external parties in China, relationships are also necessary in managing and retaining employees. It is a common mistake for managers to distant themselves away from their subordinates. They should instead build genuine friendships with their subordinates such that the latter will remain loyal to the company even in times of difficulties or despite receiving better offers. However, managers should also note that such relationships work in both ways – they may eventually find it difficult to terminate non-performing employees as a result of the personal relationships that may be involved.

6. Adapt different retention tools based on employee’s years of service
Young employees value more learning opportunity and career development, instead of retirement benefits.  Education reimbursement or corporate training goes a long way in motivation. For employees who have serviced the company for more than five years, they are more concerned about aligning their career with the direction of the company, so they will look out opportunities to participate in strategic decision making.  Relatively for employees who have spent ten years or longer with the company, they are seeking security from work place, such as retirement, medical benefits and long-term incentives.  They won’t be too keen on training or career development.

I hope all these tips help you. I would also love to hear what are the retention strategies that are working for you?

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