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China – Global firms facing HR challenges in Asia

09 October 2013

Companies in Europe are struggling with sluggish demand and a gloomy employment market, while Asia seems like a land of promise: booming economies, robust demand, and a resilient job market, according to China Daily.

But for those who are actually doing business in the region, there are also some challenges: the business opportunities are there but local competition is fierce, and while the supply of college graduates is huge, the right candidates are hard to find, and when they are found, the prosperous market means that they may easily move to rival firms.

Cindy Chen, regional head in Northeast Asia of Adecco Group, said in an interview with China Daily that retaining talent is the biggest headache for multinational companies operating in Asia and China. "The complaint here is that after companies spend considerable time and money to cultivate satisfying talent, then it's time for them to hop.”

"It's never easy to cultivate good talent. But the problem is that good talent in some markets is in great demand and employers compete with each other for it. As a result, bidding prices have soared and it's getting increasingly hard for the original employers to keep the talent," Ms Chen added.

To address this problem, her suggestion is to ensure good communication with local staff. It's always necessary to present a clear picture so that employees can easily understand where will they be two or five years later, and what the company expects from them if they want to get promoted.

Ms Chen continued: "It's critical to convince them that if they hop to another company just for the salary, they have to start all over again while they've already built a solid foundation.”

Another headache for multinationals, according to Chen, who has been with Adecco for 20 years, is a shortage of skills: on the one hand, tens of thousands of college graduates are struggling to secure jobs; on the other hand multinationals are desperate to hire experienced people with the expertise they need.

The solution, according to Ms Chen, is securing temporary work through a recruitment agency. "In China, companies have to give a four-month maternity leave to women and therefore there's a lot of demand to fill these vacancies. For people who cover them, this is quite a long period to prove themselves. Four months later, they might be able to stay in the company.”

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