Engaging and Retaining Top Talent Through Non-Monetary Benefits

Mar 18 • Management and Leadership, Morry Morgan Articles, Sales and Negotiations, Trainer Articles • 31391 Views • 1 Comment on Engaging and Retaining Top Talent Through Non-Monetary Benefits

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IF RECRUITMENT CONSULTANCY, MICHAEL PAGE, is right double-digit salary rises and high employee turnover will be the two major challenges for companies in China in 2014. The firm believes that salaries in China will increase 6 to 10 percent with procurement and supply chain, property and construction, engineering and manufacturing, as well as technology likely to experience a double-digit salary rise this year.

…staff turnover reaching as high as 45 percent, especially for talent in the sales, technology and marketing sectors.

Good news for the employee, but yet another challenge for recruitment departments, as they battle for limited talent and poach from one another, further adding fuel to the already out of control ‘War for Talent’ inferno. Michael Page believes this war will see staff turnover reaching as high as 45 percent, especially for talent in the sales, technology and marketing sectors. So what can companies do to both attract and retain their top talent, without throwing more money at the problem? What non-monetary options are available?


Health Benefits

In 2011 the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences published the ‘China Comprehensive Social Conditions Survey’ and found healthcare availability to be the second most important social issue for Chinese, second only to “soaring commodity prices”. This need for better healthcare is growing as white collar workers realise that there is a better and affordable world, without long queues, often lousy facilities, and apathetic medical staff at hospitals and medical clinics. And this need is finding its way onto the negotiation table.

approximately 83 percent of multinational companies surveyed now offer supplementary medical plans to key Chinese staff

According to a 2009 survey by Mercer, approximately 83 percent of multinational companies surveyed now offer supplementary medical plans to key Chinese staff, to allow these staff to bypass the general patients’ line and use VIP services, such as Huashan or Peking Union Hospitals. Supratik Ray, Global Benefits Consultant at Aon Hewitt, believes that if managed properly, supplementary health benefits are a powerful tool for companies to attract, engage and retain key staff. However Ray adds that such programs need to be managed carefully with the following issues taken into consideration:

Cost pressures – Controlling the ever-increasing costs of health benefit programs, whilst continuing to offer competitive benefits and access to good medical facilities to staff.

Employee expectation management – Communicating and enabling employees to realise the value of their health benefits and managing their increasing expectations of benefits.

Service delivery concerns – Ensuring the staff health benefits provider is performing its role properly and providing the best HR, member enquiry and claims service possible to improve HR and employee experience.

There are many tools to ensure that staff are motivated by their health care program,” says Ray. “Using the right tools, at the right time, are important to keeping staff engaged.”


Self Development

Contrast those numbers with 2005 when there were nearly 100 MBA programs developing 12,000 graduates per annum.

A little over a decade and a half ago there were only nine Mainland Chinese universities offering MBA programs, producing the miniscule total of just 86 graduates per year. Contrast those numbers with 2005 when there were nearly 100 MBA programs developing 12,000 graduates per annum. This increase in choice has, however, created its own dilemma, as prospective applicants, and the HR departments that often subsidise or fully sponsor the programs, are forced to wade through the pros and cons of each program. Highest among these considerations are tuition fees, program length, campus location, faculty qualifications, admittance requirements, applicability of the curriculum, and prestige of the programs.

The other issue is whether an MBA program, that is sponsored by an employer, has any direct benefit. Hult International Business School is one institution that has evidence of this direct benefit. The institute partners with over 90 corporations globally, including KPMG, Alstom, EMC, Siemens, Phillips, Microsoft, HSBC, and GE, just to name a few. According to Adriana Pawlik, Program Director for Asia, “Those companies chose to partner with Hult because of the high quality of teaching, diversity of the class, as well as the flexibility of the program.” Pawlik adds that the change in fee structure has also attracted many companies to sponsor their staff.

“These days, business schools have moved away from upfront tuition payment to pay-as-you-study plans. For example, at Hult, the tuition fees of the Executive MBA programs enjoy some flexibility, as it can be paid in quarterly instalments during the duration of the study,” says Pawlik.


Career Development

External education is not the only way to retain talent. A 2010-2011 Aon Hewitt report found that ‘learning & development’, ‘company reputation’ and ‘career opportunities’ are more important to Chinese employees, at least in the high-tech industry, than money (2010-2011 Talent Sourcing Report for the High Tech Industry). These findings are also supported by MRI, which undertook a survey of 3,000 mid to senior level candidates in 2010 looking for work, of which 2,265 were based in China. One of the questions asked in the survey was ‘what makes you stay in your current job?’ of which the top response was new challenges (ie. Career development).

But career development isn’t just more money and a new title. It requires an evolution of job skills, and herein lies the problem. Jack Lim, former Managing Director of Korn/Ferry’s Leadership & Talent Consulting division and founder of Leader’sGene Consulting, says that, “Chinese are task and intellectually competent, but are weaker with communication and social leadership qualities, in comparison to Western counterparts. On-the-job training and coaching therefore is much more valuable.” He refers to a Korn/Ferry study, which found that mature global leaders excel in social and participative styles of leadership, but these are low or very low amongst most Chinese managers (see table 1).

Table 1: Source Korn/Ferry

Table 1: Source Korn/Ferry

Lim therefore believes that, when it comes to quickly filling in the gaps of “Chinese managers, that leadership development should be 70 percent experience, 20 percent coaching and direct feedback, and 10 percent classroom training.” A strong training and development program is therefore vital in both retaining talent and overcoming existing gaps to keep these staff relevant as their career advances.

Whether you choose supplementary medical benefits, executive MBA programs, or increase career opportunities for your staff, all can play a part in increasing a company’s employer brand, and reducing turnover of existing staff. And this recommendation is just as important for the Global 1000 firms. What’s important to remember that in today’s globally competitive market, there is no longer an advantage in being a big, since a firm that has been around for 20 years can now lose market share to a company that has only been around for two. It all comes down to grabbing the talent – in the most cost effective way possible.

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One Response to Engaging and Retaining Top Talent Through Non-Monetary Benefits

  1. A.Wilson says:

    A well written article. I particularly like the Korn/Ferry table.

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