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China – Hiring intentions fall as efficiency savings take precedence

26 September 2013

Hiring intentions in China have declined by -1.8%, even though 51.5% of employers responded that they still intend to increase headcount this quarter, according to the latest Hudson Employment Trends report. The number of employers intending to decrease headcount increased by +6.2% to 13.2%.

Lily Bi, Joint General Manager of Hudson Shanghai, said: “While hiring intentions have eased slightly, the outlook is still very positive. The Government’s support of quality growth has resulted in a slightly slower rate of growth and many organizations are focusing on achieving internal efficiency and productivity gains in the first instance, rather than adding headcount.”

Overall, 35.3% of employers intend to keep staff numbers steady. Industries with the strongest recruitment intentions include; Property & Construction where 77.1% of employers intend to hire more staff this quarter, followed by Healthcare & Life Sciences (71.2%) and Consumer (68.1%).

Ms Bi continued: “It’s still very much a talent-short market. We’re seeing strong demand for people with commercial skills that can help organisations identify and capitalise on growth opportunities. And those with high-level qualifications, especially for R&D, chemicals, healthcare, scientific and laboratory roles, and digital marketing and e-commerce, are also highly sought after. Employees who can demonstrate strategic thinking and inference skills are especially in demand.”

The report also looked into how organisations can capitalise on opportunities through effective leadership and the implications of ineffective leadership. The research found that 47.3% of employers surveyed formally assess leadership, making it difficult to understand current capability, where gaps exist and how leadership can be improved.

Hudson’s research shows that 26.5% perceive the greatest shortcoming of leadership was poor people management, followed closely by poor decision-making (21.5%).

Ms Bi added: “Today’s unpredictable environment necessitates quick decision-making. So it’s often challenging for leaders to consult and communicate with their teams, although it’s essential that time is allowed for this.”

A lack of clear vision and direction was cited by 30.4% of respondents as the most likely reason for a leader to derail in an organisation, followed by poor collaboration within an organisation.

Ms Bi explained: “Employees are looking for leaders to be able to understand and guide them through a complex environment, and this can only be achieved by having close relationships, understanding what is happening within the business and altering course through consultative decision making.”

“Involving teams in the direction and decision-making process is key to achieving both understanding and buy-in. Perceptions around a lack of clear vision or direction often arise when there is a lack of alignment between leaders and employees. Leaders cannot create a strategy and vision in isolation and need input and support from their teams,” Ms Bi continued.

Successful leaders share common attributes and formal assessment programs should take these into account. These attributes include: people leadership – the ability to set the vision, and inspire others to act; the ability to manage complexity and change; mental efficiency; personal drive and ambition to succeed; and relational and cultural sensitivity, whereby leaders have strong interpersonal skills and are open and responsive to others’ perspectives.

Behavioural forms of assessment are the best way to understand current capability. These include psychometric tools to examine individuals’ leadership traits and capabilities; assessing individuals’ behaviour through observation, simulation or leadership development centres; and measuring how their behaviour is perceived in the workplace by using 360º feedback. Using a blend of these approaches provides a holistic, accurate and informative view of leadership capability.

Ms Bi commented: “Once leadership capability gaps are established, organisations can bridge these via effective, multi-dimensional leadership programs and strategies, which have a heavy focus on action-based learning. Hudson also recommends support from coaches who promote self-awareness and behavioural change, and mentors who can provide advice and act as a sounding board.”

“Leaders with a clear vision, who consult and communicate with their teams can maximise opportunities in an unpredictable world,” concluded Ms Bi.

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