China’s Plans To Recruit Talent

BANNER  Chinas plans to recruit talent
The Future of Work in China and Beyond—Delving into The Adecco Group Study Resetting Normal: Defining the New Era of Work
November 19, 2021
Labour Market Policy
Future of Skills

The world is undergoing rapid change. Global competition, outsourcing of operations, a high rate of churn in the workplace, increase in remote work and technological change all contribute to this.

In addition, consumers are now driving sustainability, and a multi-stakeholder approach to decision-making is necessary. In such an environment, China’s talent shortage and how it is being address can yield valuable learnings.

How China is getting ready for the future of work

To tackle the shrinking talent pool, and to develop domestic talent in science and technology, China is working hard to: (1) attract high-quality human capital (Chinese and foreign) from abroad and (2) improve higher education. 

The Chinese government is developing strategies to transform China into a technology-driven economyXi Jinping’s “common prosperity” vision is about focusing on domestic reforms, redesigning the educational system, increasing labour participation, and bridging national income disparities. Furthermore, Chinese officials have been promoting China’s plans to bring highly skilled foreign workers into the country. The Thousand Talents Planis part of China’s ambitious programme to recruit talent from overseas.

Yet, there are obstacles to overcome. Besides the increased scrutiny and concerns from the U.S. government a 2018 study commissioned and financed by the European Commission, titled Improving EU Access to National and Regional Financial Incentives for Innovation in China, underlined the obstacles for European researchers interested in migrating to China. These challenges include burdensome immigration procedures, difficulties with submitting research proposals in English, and funding opportunities that are not easy to access. 

In September 2021 though, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang underscored that foreign talent channels will be expanded, work permit and visa systems will be improved, and more comfortable conditions will be created for foreign workers and residents of China. “We will keep deepening international cooperation in scientific and technological innovation and integrate into the global innovation network more actively. We will promote international exchanges and cooperation in technology, personnel, and projects, and support scientists around the world to conduct research on mutual challenges,” he said. 

The long-term sustainability of technical, managerial, and professional job growth is going to be challenging for China. Creating a desirable environment for international workers, as well as fostering their own workforce will be key to attracting and retainining the talent China needs. Good news is that the Adecco Group’s study found that 67% of Chinese office workers are happier now than a year ago, and their work-life balance has improved. As well, the study found that 74% of employees in China are satisfied with their career prospects (compared to 48% globally), and only 22% are considering changing careers.

Based on such promising results, and by studying the recruitment strategies of leading employers both in China and abroad, , the business leaders of the future will be able to to successfully hire and nurture top talent.

Preparing the workforce of the future

China's plans could serve as a foundation for acquiring and recruiting talented employees in the future. So, how do the study’s findings illustrate the trends influencing talent acquisition and recruitment?

Hybrid work will be the norm, and companies will have to support both remote and onsite workers. Findings in the Resetting Normal research show that on average, workers prefer to work remotely at least 53% of the time. In China, this percentage is considerably lower, at 26%, with many workers having returned full time to the office, which shows that there is not a single model for all countries and economies. However, upon reopening after COVID-19, Chinese workers would like to keep flexibility over their schedules, showing that expectations have changed.

In addition, greater attention to caring for workers, was a top priority across countries in the survey, China's supreme court decision against 996 schedules (9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week ) which calls for greater protection of the workers' wellbeing.  Dealing withburnout and mental health was also identified in the study as a priority for the workplace of the future. The World Health Organization, which recently recognised workplace ‘burnout’ as a medical syndrome, is also preparing guidelines on mental wellbeing at work based on research and evidence. Of global respondents, 38% indicated having suffered from burnout. In China, the number was slightly higher at 41%; however only 6%  felt that their mental (6%) had declined and only 7% felt that their physical wellbeing has worsened.

What then is the role of companies in supporting and developing the workforce?  In the Adecco Group’s study, 71% of workers globally agree their employers must provide effective mental wellbeing support in the future. Interestingly, 53% of managers overall (compared to 46% in China) reported it is difficult to identify when employees are struggling with overwork or mental wellbeing although 72% of them found the overall management experience easy.

What this comes down to is effective leadership skills. Upskilling next generation leaders will be key. Prominent leaders hire, inspire, and motivate great people. Investing in leadership development increases employee engagement, makes it easier for a company to deal with talent gaps, and reduces turnover.

Growing and managing talent are essential to a business’s growth and performance, and resilient systems require a wide range of skills. In China, 73% of all workers in the Adecco survey are satisfied with senior leadership, compared to 53% globally. In addition, about 60% of non-managers in China say their managers have met or exceeded expectations in encouraging a positive work environment. Developing and supporting people holistically is the responsibility of the inclusive leaders and employers of the future. To remain relevant sustainably, one has to align with (job) market demand as well as to maintain a mindset of navigation.

But business alone does not have all the answers. Engaging different actors in skills and experience exchange. Future organisations will operate like ecosystems. Driving multi stakeholder collaboration across business, government, civil society and academia and adopting an ecosystem approach is essential for decision-making and the business leaders of the future.