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How to Increase Employee Retention in China

China employee retention

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Tips to increase employee retention in China

Having been in the recruitment industry for over 10 years, I have come across hundreds of candidates seeking job opportunities along with clients looking for applicants. I always ask prospective employees I meet why they decided to look further and change their current jobs. Consequently, i also ask my clients that require replacement recruitment why the previous candidates left the company.

One of the most typical reasons is the search for a better salary package. However, it is interesting to observe that in numerous cases where I approached candidates with an offer of an increased salary—-they refused to move to another job.

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What keeps employees from changing jobs if not salary?

Company Culture

The first reason is – company culture. Company culture is a very strong “holding tool” for employees.  “Why would I change my job if I am happy here,” “I like my management, its approach, everybody listens, cares, appreciates,” and “I have all I need to succeed and will have the support of my colleagues when needed,” these are the comments of employees who refuse to transfer to other jobs due to their satisfaction with the company culture they are enjoying.

This is so important that some companies spend a huge amount of money just to create the right company culture and team building. In many cases, companies would hire professionals to work solely on this matter.

It is a mistake for some companies to think that hiring candidates with a good attitude and professional knowledge will suffice, and simply forget about the corporate environment and culture.

Let’s face it – most of the time consumed at work is spent with colleagues sitting in the same office on a daily basis. Given such a day-to-day situation, it is simply impossible not to build up a certain type of “company culture.”

It should be kept in mind that building a conducive company culture – is an investment! The outcome that comes from it, the loyalty of employees, the satisfied mood, all these are well worth it! Employees will be happy to go to work each morning, looking forward to the great environment created by the company.

However, as a manager – it is necessary to continuously work on it. Company culture does not happen and flows by itself. I am aware of many employees who will not change their jobs because they are content working with the people in their respective companies. Employees view their colleagues and superiors as their “family,” their “dream team.” As a manager, you have to care if you wish to decrease the turnover rate at your company!


The second reason why employees will not leave their jobs is – recognition (and this has nothing to do with money). Nothing boosts motivation more than the appreciation and recognition of the employee and his work by management and his colleagues. Even minor good work, if given a motivating recognition, can help an employee strive for success. The employee will likely do his utmost best to prove himself and perform even better. On the other hand, not hearing simple comments as “good job” or “well done” can prove frustrating and overwhelming, especially after a hard day’s work.

As a manager, it is important to believe in your employees! In my own experience, it could prove frustrating to be treated like an intern by a manager even if you are a fully professional and competent employee. It is always great to have the support of management and learn new skills. However, it is necessary to believe in the employees and give them the opportunity to handle their jobs as professionals.  After all, this is the reason why they were hired in the first place. A good manager should know when to be involved in the work process, and when just to observe and allow qualified employees to do their jobs.

Keep it Challenging

The third reason why employees will not leave their current work is if the company will – keep it challenging! Many candidates I came across with admitted that they have reached a certain point in their careers where they felt there is nothing further they can learn. This pushes them to seek and apply for more challenging work offered in the market.

It is ideal to have ambitious employees working for a company. However, these types of employees are constantly searching for further development in their professional skills and experiences. As such, it is necessary to keep them motivated and challenged to be able to keep them working with the company.

Companies should keep their employees adequately challenged and busy with sufficient workload. They should be appropriately monitored and be informed that there are internal opportunities for them for professional growth, promotion, and incentives based on their performance. However, it is important for companies not to make promises that they cannot deliver.

Bonus System

The fourth and final factor that helps keep employees from finding other jobs is having a – bonus system. This gives employees the opportunity to increase their base salary based on their performance, as well as that of the company’s. This is normally offered to employees with fixed salaries.

Also, a lot of the candidates I associated with were attracted with overseas internal transfer opportunities (if possible, of course). It’s not necessary that all employees will use this opportunity, but it is nice to have an option.

Any company that wants to prevent their valued employees from looking outside must do a great job at working on the foregoing factors. This is, however, not an exhaustive list and a lot will depend on other matters as location, department, the line of business, etc. However, based on my own experience, the four factors mentioned are the most common reasons that keep employees in China from changing their jobs.

Therefore, in hiring new employees to join your established team, it is very important to determine if the candidate is a good fit. It is necessary to know if the applicant’s skills and attitude match the existing environment and could contribute positively to the company culture. How will you know? Before making a decision, have two or three of your reliable employees belonging to your team meet with the candidate being considered, and get their opinions about him.


Horizons is your 360 degrees dedicated recruitment & headhunting agency in China. We can help you to find the right talent in the market to join your team. We will handle the whole process of searching until hiring, including administrative and legal support if needed. 

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