Human Resources in China: 7 Tips on How to Retain your Talent Outside First Tier Cities

We have heard and read a lot about the difficulties companies face trying to retain their talent in China. Things get even worse when your business needs force you to relocate your Beijing and Shanghai managers into second and third tier cities.

I recommend a very good article at Shanghai Business Review by Katrina Hamlin. It deals with what she calls “The Migrant Manager”, talent sent from main hubs into second and third tier cities, and how this is forcing employers to refine talent management strategies. (I encourage you to read the full article- you need to be subscribed but you can also register for a free trial- and it is a really good publication)

“Many companies have become resistant to hiring their staff from tier one cities to work in their tier two and three offices preferring to try the local talent. But in some places, especially in the newest business hubs, appropriate talent may be in short supply, and there is little choice but to import talent from other areas” says Vivian Ng, managing director at Morgan McKinley.

Below, you may read some of the ideas captured in the article on how to retain talent (register for a free trial if you do not subscribe already)

1.Brand relocation as a strong career move
“The senior and junior positions tend to be filled, but only a few are available to cover mid-level positions. So, for those occupying junior-level positions (in Shanghai), a move to Chengdu may turn out to be a better option. That´s a significant push factor. It´s a step up, and they know they can return (to Shanghai)..” says Andy Bentote, North and Eastern China managing director, Michael Page International.

2.Tailor the package to suit the individual’s needs and career goals.
Pay attention to employee´s personal situation and needs. Packages should include accommodation, transport allowance, return flights, flexible approach to family visits, schooling (Emma Charnock, Hong Kong and China’s regional director of Hays).

3.Make sure they feel supported by the local office
Other intangible assistance from the local office such as helping to find a school for the children who relocated with them, could also make a difference. All these help boost their confidence to stay in the city (Emma Charnock, Hong Kong and China’s regional director of Hays).

4.Keep promises you make
“While it is important to construct a package that can motivate and attract the candidate to join, it is also necessary to keep the promises (especially on the non-financial side) if you’re going to retain the candidates who have joined.” says Mr Charnock

5.Pick the right person
How then c an a recruiter assess willingness (to go away from first tier cities)? Personal connections were identified as the most significant, decisive factor. “Where they are from, where they went to university …” according to Bentote.

6.Comunication is critical. Companies need to understand the challenges their staff are facing (Laura Shen, director, RPO and talent management, China, at Hudson).

7.Conduct follow up interviews six months after the employee has moved on.
I am not sure an employee is completely honest in a traditional exit interview… But they might be honest after that break- and if, on reflection, they wish they´d stayed with us, it gives us a chance to take them back (John Crawford, HR director at Biomet’s Asian Operations).

What is your experience? Do you think it is not possible to hire your talent locally? Have you been able to retain your top talent in second and third tier cities?

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You may read more about human resources in China here:

* 3 Trends in the Chinese Labour Market
* 5 Recruitment Tips for Entrepreneurs in China
* 7 Tips on How to Recruit Managers for SMEs in China
* HR in China: “Accept what you’ve got and model them into what you expect them to be”
* Retaining your Chinese Employee
* 6 Tips on How to Retain your Chinese Talent
* China Stories: Trustworthy Employee… Please, Don’t Go!
* Top Challenge for Foreign Companies in China: Human Resources Constraints
* HR in China: Structure your Needs and Plan your Growth
* Foreign Companies: Sexy No More
* 10 Reasons Why your Chinese Employee is Leaving You
* Why are your Chinese Employees Leaving You?