I recently finished a study looking at the top talent challenges facing corporations in China. With an extremely competitive job market, it's no surprise that one of the biggest challenges is filling gaps in leadership positions and other critical roles.
For senior leadership positions, expats are no longer the dominant leadership structure in most large Chinese multinationals (MNCs). Today, companies are more often looking for English-speaking, native-born Chinese with international business experience. The pool of candidates matching this profile is relatively small, so that attracting these individuals is extremely difficult. The same holds true for key positions or top talent. The competition for these individuals, who are often bi-lingual and have experience in a global company, is so fierce that salary inflation has become out of control.
Successfully filling these positions involves a number of talent initiatives. Employer branding is one key element to recruiting (and retention). How your company positions itself to prospective and current employees is vital to sourcing and retaining those employees. While MNCs like IBM and Google held an advantage in the past, more Chinese are seeking jobs in reputable private and state-owned enterprises, making it even harder to attract good candidates. Our research shows that Chinese companies are behind the U.S. in their branding strategies – with only 30 percent of Chinese MNCs having a well-established employer brand strategy in China. These organizations will fall behind in the race for talent.
Your employer brand communicates why someone would want to work for your organization. This is reflected in practical terms, such as compensation, benefits, and work environment, but also through broader aspects, such as the organization’s future direction, role in the community, values, and reputation as a business and employer. An up to date employer brand that reflects the current culture and vision of the organization is crucial for acquiring and retaining critical talent.
Internal employees can also provide a good source of candidates. This is where succession planning and leadership development initiatives come to fruition. If these talent processes have been executed properly, your organization will have a pipeline of ready candidates to fill senior-level key positions. Unfortunately, our research shows that many Chinese MNCs have an insufficient process for identifying, developing and managing candidates to fill the pipeline.
Particularly in large companies, hiring managers need visibility into employee capabilities in order to identify internal candidates. Today’s online talent systems can provide access to employee performance information, competency assessments, and employee-generated content on career interests, languages and professional certifications. Organizations that do this well are able to quickly search their databases for specific criteria relevant to job openings.
These are just a couple of the ways that Chinese businesses can improve the way they fill their leadership and key positions. For more information, read Talent Challenges in China. We also welcome your comments on this topic.