Musical Chairs at Chinese companies

What people are saying about Mulberry Fields

“Your blog speaks to the many issues I have experience with when doing business in China” – a California company

Many companies are just back in the office this week after CNY and I have resumed my correspondence with vendors on several current projects. One vendor I have been working with over the last 6 mos sent me an email today and told me that the person I had been communicating with will not be returning to the company. So just like that I have to get used to someone new and bring her up to speed on everything. And this is not the first time this has happened. I would say that it has become a regular feature of doing business in China. This is not only my experience and but what I have heard from others as well.

Young people nowadays have so much mobility in China and they are job-hopping to a degree that would make their counterparts in the US envious. I remember reading an article last year – where I forget – in which it was said that turnover in some industries or some provinces was as high as 30% while in the equivalent turnover rate in the US was under 15 %. And in foreign companies in China the turnover rate is routinely around 15% . FYI a job turnover rate is measured as the number of employees who left in a year over the number of employees at the beginning of the year plus the number of the employees at the end of the year /2 x 100. In case you are interested.

The reason most cited by job-hoppers in China – according to a study by HRChina.com – is poor management and not salary as one would expect. Whether that is true or not who knows but the trend is definitely there and you have to be prepared for this. Hopefully you have a good enough relationship with the person you are communicating with so that they will give you some advance warning if they do decide to leave their current position and are in a position to give you that information. In fact, I would say that it does not hurt to bring this issue up with your current vendor contact and make sure they will brief everyone on your order in the event they do plan to leave. The tendency in China is for people to leave a company without passing along all order details to their successors, not out of malice but out of habit.

So job hopping in China has replaced the Iron Rice Bowl;. As Edgar Bergen used to say “Who’d have thunk it ?”

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