Retention not getting enough attention by Suzhou employers, Hays survey

About half of Suzhou businesses have no retention plans in place despite the high turnover rates in the region, according to a recent survey by recruiting experts Hays.

Updated: 20 Jan 2016
About half of Suzhou businesses have no retention plans in place despite the high turnover rates in the region, according to a recent survey by recruiting experts Hays.
“It’s concerning to see that 47.2 per cent of businesses in Suzhou do not have a suitable retention strategy in place,” says Simon Lance, Regional Director of Hays in China.
“Almost a third of employers surveyed are experiencing a 20 per cent turnover of staff, and 20 per cent indicate their turnover sits between 10 to 15 per cent. Clearly, there is a strong case for businesses to develop and implement proper retention strategies to curb this trend. We wanted to find out how well candidates’ expectations were being met by employers in Suzhou, so we partnered with Zhaopin, one of the biggest job boards in China, to survey candidates and ask them for their insights on the issue of retention.”
Of the 1300 respondents, 44.9 per cent had been in their current role for less than a year and 26.5 per cent were in their previous role for about the same time, highlighting that staff turnover is definitely a problem.
Candidates say the top reasons for leaving a job include salary (65.2 per cent), lack of career progression (50.7 per cent), lack of training or development opportunities (43.9 per cent), poor management (36.2 per cent) and seeking new challenges (32.4 per cent).
“If we separate the candidates into two categories ‘new staff,’ those who have been in their current job for up to two years, and ‘old staff’, those working their current job for more than two years, we can see some interesting results in terms of what their priorities are,” says Simon. “The ‘old staff’ are more concerned with lack of career progression and seeking new challenges, while the ‘new staff’ say salary, lack of training and development opportunities, poor management and too much stress was prompting them to look for a new employer.“
A cross analysis of local and non-local candidates also revealed some interesting insights. 
“It appears that local Suzhou candidates tend to leave their jobs due to frequent business trips, too much stress and poor work/life balance, while the non-locals focus more on “seeking to specialise in a particular field,” says Simon.
In terms of what factors can change a candidate’s mind to stay in their job, more annual leave (21.6 per cent vs 18.1 per cent) and opportunities for transferring to another department (9.1 per cent vs 8.7 per cent) seem to be more important to locals compared to non-locals.
Employers seem to recognise the cause of turnover, most say salary (87.7 per cent) and lack of career progression (54.4 per cent) appear to be among the main reasons, very much in line with what the candidates thought. Yet 67 per cent of employers admit they don’t have any succession plans in place and 65.2 per cent of employers say they do not have individually tailored employee strategies but rather a blanket plan.
“We believe retention should start from not only when a new employee walks in the door, such as a good induction process, but employers should start thinking about retention while attracting candidates, and this comes down to having a strong employee value proposition and employer branding,” says Simon.
“There are also some simple measures that can be put in place when it comes to existing employees and they don’t all have to centre on salary.”
Hays suggests these steps to help candidates with career progression:
Open communication with staff
Honest communication with staff is the first step in creating a successful development pathway. As part of your workforce plan, we recommend sitting down with employees individually to ensure you discuss and agree their career development. Discuss their career goals. Communicate your strategic action plans and their place in those plans. By working together with employees you will boost confidence and morale and foster a feeling of involvement. 
Performance management
Performance management is central to development and it’s no surprise that employers of choice have solid performance management methodology. This 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 critical and an excellent opportunity to ensure talent is engaged and on-track.
Career Development
Does everyone in the business know what opportunities they have available to them for development? Not everyone is interested in career development but top talent always is!  It can be difficult for small organisations to offer opportunities but career development is not restricted to promotion.  Can you offer additional responsibility?  Supervising other employees?  Coaching and training others?  Managing projects?  Chairing meetings?
Train existing staff
Many organisations also offer training as part of their development program. This also makes sense as a strategy to help overcome skills shortages, since by up-skilling your existing employees, you build a more talented workforce capable of handling the required workflow. You can advance individual employees’ skills in the direction of existing skills and knowledge gaps. In addition, training improves overall retention levels and staff motivation since career development is a growing concern amongst Australia’s candidate pool.
Training doesn’t always have to be in the classroom. Coaching has a number of advantages as a method of development. It is actually a more versatile approach than formal training for that reason as it can be directed to many different scenarios; to correct poor performance (it is one-to-one which is usually more effective), improve morale and motivation and encourage employees to find their own answers. It also has the spin-off effect that the "coachee" becomes a coach themselves as they have seen it in action.
Another strategy worth consideration is the use of mentorships. Provided you have appropriate mentors within your organisation, this method of up-skilling your existing staff can be easily tailored to meet your organisation’s own unique needs. 
Mentorships are not only a useful development tool; they can also be used to retain corporate insight and pass this insight on to other employees. This is particularly useful when considering how to share the knowledge of staff with unique expertise or how to retain the knowledge of your mature age employees.
Through mentorships, less experienced employees gain the knowledge of their more experienced colleagues on a one-on-one basis. Given the informal nature of information exchange and the relationship-basis of mentoring, mentorships allow a business to retain such knowledge as lessons that have been previously learnt, right through to implicit awareness such as why reports are written in a particular way or who to contact in the organisation for particular information.
As well as helping to ensure your business retains technical knowledge, mentorships are also a method of assisting in the personal career development of mentees, a very important component of staff retention.
Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.
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About Hays
Hays is the leading global specialist recruiting group. It is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide.
Hays Specialist Recruitment  (Shanghai) Co., Limited ("Hays China") operates across the public and private sector, dealing in permanent positions. Hays China’s eighteen specialisms span Accountancy & Finance, Banking, Architecture, Construction, Education, Engineering, Executive, Finance Technology, Human Resources, Hays Resource Management, Information Technology, Insurance, Life Sciences, Manufacturing & Operations, Oil & Gas, Property and Sales & Marketing.
Hays China operates four local offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou and Guangzhou. It is the local representative office for Hays plc, which is a global company with more than 7,800 staff operating from 245 offices across 33 countries.
Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA.

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