10 Reasons Why your Chinese Employee is Leaving You

I recently attended an event hosted by Servcorp Shanghai where Christian Groeger and Valourie Xuan, from Fiducia Management Consultants, delivered a presentation entitled “Winning the Talent War (in China) in 2011”.

High staff rotation is a big challenge for companies in China. Mr. Groeger approached the “talent war” drivers from both the employee and the employer’s perspective. Today I reproduce here Mr. Groeger’s insights about drivers and external influences from the employees perspective:

1. Problems with supervisors and leadership
This is a universal driver, which usually does not get that much attention because people are usually not that honest about their personal feelings. Interpersonal problems are easily compounded in intercultural (foreigner/local, returnee/local) settings.

2. Work-Life Imbalance
This issue is rapidly gaining importance, especially with younger employees – the  generation born in the 90’s or 90后 (jiu-ling-hou) as they are called in China. Members of this generation tend to be more self-conscious and have higher expectations about life than their parents generation.

3. Mounting expectations of one-child policy offspring to succeed
Single children have to deal not only with the expectations of their parents, but also their 4 grandparents and further. Often even the extended family contributes financially to the education and upbringing, creating a pyramid of expectations in turn.

4. Overestimation of own role/capabilities
Being used to be the centre of attention, many single children lack a realistic view of their capabilities.

5. Fast-track promotion and salary jumps available through job-hopping
Promotion and salary jumps of more than 20% (for middle management positions) provide a strong incentive to switch in an overheated HR market.

6. Pay inequality in the labour market (up to 300 percent difference in the same job category)
Differences in pay for the same job within the same industry, as well as across industries are 3-4 times more pronounced than in developed countries. This is because of huge gaps in the underlying productivity, as well as market standing of private Chinese companies, FIE’s and state monopolies.

7. Financial pressure for young families (housing, cost of education)
Married couples are expected to move into their own apartment, which puts especially young men looking for spouses under heavy pressure to buy property in order to receive approval by the spouse’s family.  As the cost of education soars, young families also start saving for schooling and university tuition at a reputable university or abroad.

8. Short-term focus and materialism
As young Chinese constantly engage in social benchmarking with their friends and student peers, short-term material gains sometimes count for more than long-term perspectives.

9. Group orientation (leaving together with other team members)
Often entire teams leave a company together with a manager out of stronger linkage to the person than to the company. In some industries this is becoming more customary as in hospitality, where Chefs are expected to bring along their own crew.

10. Increasing attractiveness of state-sector companies and institutions
A few years back, there was a distinctive group of individuals targeted by FIE’s and a different, more “local” group by private and state-owned enterprises. This distinction is gone, now all companies vie for the same pool of graduates and experienced staff.

Have you identified the same drivers?

…Coming soon, “Drivers of the Talent War. Employer’s Reasons

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