A Publication of WTVP

It’s hard to imagine that with a population of 1.3 billion, China would have a shortage of talented people. Yet this perplexing talent paradox threatens the future growth of both foreign and domestic companies.

From the outside, it would appear that little stands in China’s way. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, China accounted for one-third of global economic growth in 2004, and the Chinese economy is expected to grow by 9.5 percent in 2007. An enormous surge in foreign direct investment has helped fuel this growth. Ninety percent of the world’s top 500 multinational companies have invested in China and more than 30 of these companies now have regional headquarters there, according to China’s state-run newspaper, People’s Daily.

The downside to this rapid growth is that many companies in China can’t find enough people with the right skills to fill their job vacancies. Shortages are the most severe among senior managers. Although universities are producing more mid-level managers, demand still outstrips supply. In fact, the Manpower Talent Shortage Survey released in early 2006 indicates a greater need for managers and executives in China than in most other countries.

What does this mean for you and your company? While your business may not be growing at the pace experienced by companies in China, you too may be having difficulty finding and retaining qualified, talented people. Many companies, including staffing firms, have used their years of experience in mainland China to develop human resources techniques and practices that stem from the country’s culture, values and working practices. Although these techniques were created for China, the basic principles can be applied anywhere in the world.

The following five practical strategies can help your company achieve success in attracting and retaining employees:

1. Create a learning organization. Quite simply, teach employees something new every day. This might include giving employees projects that go beyond their current job responsibilities.

2. Appoint competent leaders. In China, employees respond best to hands-on leadership and appreciate having a role model to demonstrate what is expected of them. Successful managers everywhere should be able to clearly explain company strategies while linking employees’ personal goals to business objectives.

3. Build an appropriate organization and culture. It is critical for companies everywhere to appreciate and respect cultural norms and practices. To provide credibility, managers must live and breathe your company’s values.

4. Provide competitive compensation and benefits packages. Whether you’re located in Beijing or Bakersfield, it’s critical to stay current with local pay rates. While salary is important, it’s not the only factor. You may want to consider offering other benefits like tuition reimbursement, insurance and long-term incentive plans.

5. Select the right people. Anticipate what your company will require of employees in the future to ensure that job descriptions are realistic. Employers that are open, honest and patient with candidates during interviews are more likely to find employees that share their values.

While there is nothing mysterious or complicated about finding and keeping talent, it does require careful planning and thought. Because multiple factors affect employee attraction and retention, it is crucial that all five strategies be implemented as an integrated, holistic solution. By neglecting even one of the strategies, the overall solution will be weakened. IBI