Confronting Asia's recruitment challenge

Answer to recruitment challenge goes beyond higher salaries, and employers should start looking at other motivating factors at the workplace.
Written by Isabelle Chan, Contributor
commentary Market reports show that employers are using financial incentives to retain their staff. That's almost welcome news.

Who doesn't want their salary to increase? But I hope employers are not offering better pay only as a counter-offer when an employee resigns.

Understandably, businesses have salary bands, and they need to keep their hiring costs in check. But there are companies which avoid paying salaries that commensurate with a candidate's experience and the job responsibilities, and for these employers, they should know that it works in their favor to pay a fair and competitive salary at the onset. Why wait until an employee announces his or her intent to leave to offer a raise?

But it often isn't about the money, as one ZDNet Asia reader pointed out in response to last week's commentary. It is the total package that counts, by that I mean salary, plus challenging work, a competent and understanding supervisor, great coworkers, and opportunities to keep learning and to move up the ranks.

Recruiters say finding good talent and keeping them is a challenge. I will not argue with that, but I believe more can always be done, and earlier rather than later. In fact, I believe employers can take proactive steps to preempt resignations and to give their staff a reason to stay, way before their staff even start to entertain thoughts and offers of employment elsewhere.

In most cases, bosses should generally have an idea--even if it is vague--of what his or her employee is seeking. And they don't need to wait until the annual year-end appraisal to find out. Supervisors can conduct midyear or quarterly reviews, or simply chat with their staff over coffee. It doesn't have to be a formal setting. Supervisors can find out a lot more about a particular staff, and if he or she has personal or work issues, if he or she didn't see it as a formal review session.

Of course, there are other factors like work culture and environment that come into play, too. Hell, even how good the restroom smells could help sway some people into staying or leaving. A friend once told me how quickly she made up her mind about a potential job, even before stepping into the interview. She decided, almost immediately, that she couldn't possibly work in a place that had filthy restrooms.

Okay, not everyone will give up a perfectly good job opportunity just because the toilet smells of pee, but that's a non-financially motivated reason for employers to think about.

With younger and more tech-savvy men and women joining the workforce, one area that HR departments might want to start thinking about is their policy on Internet use, if there is one.

According to a recent survey conducted by Sophos, one in seven respondents "bring their Facebook addiction to work". Slightly over 37 percent of the respondents only visited the site once or twice a day, 8 percent admitted using it up to 10 times a day, and 14.8 percent, or one in seven, confessed to being logged onto Facebook almost permanently during their work day.

The Sophos report goes on to warn businesses of the potential productivity implications for businesses that allow their employees to access Facebook during office hours.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said: "The results show that more than one-fifth of these Facebook users are actually Facebook abuses. They're seriously struggling to tear themselves away from the Web site when they should be concentrating on their job--disturbing news for all organizations that are still allowing employees uncontrolled access."

With such statistics suggesting that more employees are loafing at the workplace, what should employers do? On the one hand, businesses are told to build a tech-savvy workplace and look toward new media for ideas, as that's where new market opportunities lie. On the other hand, there is now this potential issue of employee loafing.

I believe it goes back to the issue of placing trust in employees to do their job. Focus on the key performance indicators, and if they meet their deadlines, exceed their targets, and continuously offer new ideas, it's a win-win for both employee and employer. Reward those who exceed expectations, show a can-do, will-do attitude, and are willing to learn.

According to Hudson's fourth-quarter report of employment trends in Asia, low employee tenure is a problem for employers in China, Hong Kong and Singapore, with one-third of employees leaving within two years.

Google was voted No. 1 on Fortune magazine's "100 Best Companies to Work For" list, and it is its unique culture that catapulted the Internet giant into this top position, not so much the perks and benefits alone. Google achieved another milestone this week. Its shares crossed the US$700 mark for the first time, ahead of analyst expectations.

So, tell me, is money the answer to Asia's recruitment and business challenge?

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