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Ride the Wave: How to seize the opportunity in recruiting Hong Kong’s best and brightest
While recent years have seen an impressive lift in the economic fortunes of mainland Chinese businesses, expansion comes with the need for communication and dialogue – especially where it comes to hiring and retaining top talent. That’s the message from specialist recruitment company Michael Page, which recently surveyed around 3,000 Hong Kong professionals and management leaders working for mainland Chinese companies.
The survey suggests that of those employees who left these companies, 72% of employees said they did so because they didn’t fit in, while 67% resigned because of what they believed to be a mismatch in salary expectations.
Given these statistics, how might mainland Chinese companies and hiring managers better address such culture and communication gaps in future? “Be honest. Set the expectations right and explain the company culture from the outset,” advises Ellen Lai, director at Page Personnel Hong Kong.
According to Lai, any initial uncertainty over roles and expectations can easily be resolved at the outset of a work engagement, simply by presenting the facts during the hiring process, and by gradually immersing candidates into the company culture from the week they get on board.
“The employer should explain everything at the start, including the salary structures,” Lai suggests. “Candidates will generally perceive a mismatch in salaries, because they don’t know how much to expect.” Any explanations over specific payment terms should be covered clearly by HR at the outset, she says, especially where these may differ with local norms.
In terms of culture, one of the biggest barriers for Hong Kong professionals to overcome can be language. Where in today’s working environment, Mandarin is a must, it is important for mainland Chinese companies to be on the look-out for candidates willing to learn and adapt. Again, this best starts with an open dialogue.
“It’s important to understand the candidate’s mindset,” Lai explains. “I like to find out if they are open-minded enough. 5 to 10 years ago, not many mainland Chinese companies had set foot in Hong Kong, so this is still new territory,” she notes.
Seize the opportunity now
Critically, when communication gaps are bridged, the promise can be significant. As mainland Chinese companies expand their horizons into Hong Kong, they are in turn opening doors to exciting new opportunities. For those who get the formula right, now seems a perfect time to ride the wave of positive change in Hong Kong and take the lead in recruiting the city’s best.
Olga Yung, Regional Director of Michael Page Hong Kong is among those excited about the future of mainland Chinese firms in Hong Kong. “Well-established companies with good track records offer many pull factors including stability, competitive remuneration, good bonuses and exciting projects,” says Yung. “And possibly, opportunities for more exposure beyond Greater China.”
Mainland Chinese companies with a global presence are especially at an advantage in terms of attracting talent, since these companies help offer more than Greater China exposure and provide a greater sense of stability. Yet while it may be more challenging for start-ups, there is still the opportunity for these companies to attract experienced Hong Kong candidates – by giving them the opportunity to create and lead new teams of their own at an earlier career stage, and where successful, to access attractive salaries faster too.
Planning is paramount
“Hong Kong is a mature market when it comes to identifying and taking on new talent,” Yung notes. “Candidates are also well aware of how the general recruitment process works. They have experienced the good and the bad over the years.”
Therefore, it is important for companies competing for the best prospects, to put together a solid recruitment plan. In doing so, it is important to know who you wish to hire and how you plan to bring them in.
“For Hong Kong candidates, stability and track record are the main concerns when it comes to mainland Chinese companies,” explains Yung. “Given that, it may be detrimental if those hiring don’t have a clear hiring plan. Or follow a stop-start process, which may result in tarnishing a brand’s reputation.”
The perfect match
Given their trajectory, ambitious Hong Kong candidates could do well to join mainland Chinese companies, because their size and scope may dramatically advance throughout their careers. The result can be these professionals growing with the business, adapting to new cultures, setting policies and eventually, leading larger teams.
Fortunately, Hong Kong professionals are known globally for being very versatile and dynamic, making them well suited to global expansion. “Hong Kong candidates have a willingness to learn and adapt extremely well to change,” Lai says. “They are also familiar with regulations and compliance, because a lot of international firms already have these policies in place. So they have the ability to establish a good foundation for new organisations,” she notes.
Hire the right Hong Kong talent, and they will go the extra mile for you and your brand. “They work hard and long hours, and therefore contribute to higher revenues for any organisation.”
We have recently conducted a study and looked at the migration of candidates and their motivations behind working for Chinese companies. Click here to find out more.