Organisations in China need to focus on staff retention if they are to overcome skills shortages and build the human capital required for success in a global economy, says recruiting experts Hays in China.
“China’s resilience in the face of global economic conditions is driving the local jobs market forward,” says Simon Lance, Regional Director of Hays in China. “But skills shortages and China’s increasingly competitive pool of labour means that businesses need to focus on the often neglected area of building a retention plan. Often the focus is instead on attraction, and as a result employers in China are very good at developing new and innovative attraction strategies.
“But given China’s turnover rates, retention needs greater attention. There are simple steps you can take to start improving your retention efforts today,” he said. According to Hays, 12 successful retention tips are:
1. Performance management
Performance management is central to retention and can be as simple - but essential - as a robust, regular appraisal system that is user friendly and which managers are committed to. Formal performance feedback is also an excellent opportunity to ensure talent is engaged.
2. Career Development
Secondly, provide career progression opportunities for all staff. Lack of career progression is often the primary reason given by candidates when asked why they are looking for a new job, followed by a desire for new challenges. They often rank above the salary on offer.
Make sure employees know about promotional opportunities. Don’t let them become stale or bored. Obviously every organisation has different parameters within which they must work, but career development does not necessarily mean promotion, although it certainly can. Can you instead offer additional responsibility, or the opportunity to supervise other employees? Could an employee coach and train others, manage projects or chair meetings?
- Women in senior management
Career develop should extend to women in senior management. Many women leave their jobs because of inadequate career development and progression opportunities. A program to assist women into senior management can include the establishment of steering groups and active coaching or networking programs to enable female employees to discuss ideas, plan their career path, access career development and settle into new roles. Another common practice is to train both male and female managers in how to develop female staff into senior management roles.
We also advise you to ensure that the number of women in senior management reflects the number of women employed overall. That’s because young women look for female role models in senior positions.
4. Training & development
Training and development doesn’t necessarily mean formal courses, although it can. One-on-one training and taking on additional duties can be just as effective. Investing in your employees’ skills development allows them to be the best they can be, which has obvious rewards for both them and you.
Training doesn’t always have to be in the classroom. Mentorships are a useful training and development tool to aid in retention and they can also be used to retain and pass corporate insight on to other employees.
6. Engagement and communication
Engagement refers to the extent to which employers understand, communicate and build a good relationship with their employees. Ask for your employees’ opinions on key engagement factors such as career progression and performance feedback through employee opinion surveys, online forums or regular performance reviews.
Critically, do not make assumptions about an employee’s career path or workplace needs based upon their gender, family responsibilities or age. Open, honest and transparent communication with each employee about their own career goals will instead give you an accurate picture.
7. Your managers
You should also look at the quality of your managers. Front line managers are the key to retention. Remember, people join companies and leave people. Your managers are at the coal face. How good are they at motivating and inspiring their team members? Managing performance, good and bad? Setting useful goals? Providing useful performance feedback? What does your organisation do to develop its managers?
The annual Hays Salary Guide enables you to benchmark your salaries and ensure they are in line with current market rates.
9. Reward and recognition
Reward and recognition programs can be used as part of a successful retention program, as long as there is a fair and equal system of processes for rewards.
10. The case for flexible working
There are many people who require flexible working options to remain in employment, such as those with responsibilities caring for young children or elderly relatives. Flexibility also demonstrates to employees that they are valued. Individual job functions of course need to be considered, and certain duties may naturally preclude the ability to offer certain options. For example, a customer-facing role may not be suitable to telecommuting, but perhaps you could consider job share or flexible working hours so the employee starts two hours later?
11. Maternity leave
In the Dragon year, it is said by many that more women are pregnant than in any recent year. Given the extension of maternity leave to 98 days, organisations need to ensure they keep in contact with staff on maternity leave and work with them to manage their transition back to work smoothly.
12. If they do go
Despite your best efforts, some staff may still go. An employer brand is affected as much by the people who leave as the people who are still employed. Making leaving a positive experience can be a challenge but it is very powerful for leavers to speak highly of an organisation even though they no longer work there. Even an exit interview can have a positive impact.
Simon notes: “It is important to remember that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to retention will not work for all employees. For example, some employers still believe salary is an overall umbrella fix for retention and staff satisfaction. But Chinese employees are interested in career progression, as well as being part of something bigger. It is the ground level manager’s role to work with staff, build their internal relationships and make staff feel they are a valued part of the business’ bigger picture.”
Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.