From Mao to More: The Talent War in China
By Charlotta Lagerdahl, Director, Eastwei MSL
Last week, I was invited by the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai to talk about the needs and the drivers of the next generation of employees in mainland China. The speed at which China has developed over the past decades has not only presented an array of opportunities, but also a myriad of challenges as a result of a fast-changing socio-economic landscape.
The distinct differences between the generations is something we explored in a recent whitepaper: From Collective to the Individual: Marketing to the Chinese 70s, 80s & 90s Generations. At the event I took a deeper dive into how this has shaped the brand & talent landscape of today in mainland China, and the impact this has had on employers. Today, it’s absolutely imperative for a company to realize that the fast-growing pace of the China market means that three years can create what’s often described as a ‘generation gap.’ As a result, businesses must understand how their future team defines success and what makes them chose a specific career and employer. In order to garner insights into this next generation of talent, during September and October, we conducted in depth interviews with students graduating within the next two years from universities in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu.
We have identified some very interesting initial trends and drivers, but the full and final report will be available in December. At the Swedish Chamber of Commerce, the ensuing debate enforced our viewpoint that the talent war is one of the top three issues on the MNCs China agenda.
Some highlights of the speech and a sneak peak of the forthcoming Generation More report includes:
- Youngsters belonging to Generation More suffer from ambivalence and perplexity about their futures
- In many instances, they aren’t studying a subject that will take them on a career path of their choosing. Many students are unhappy with their majors, which in many cases were chosen by their parents
- MNCs are perceived by this group to be a high pressure environment, but also come with greater opportunities to learn and grow
- Chinese companies, on the other hand, are perceived to be more relaxed, with a high emphasis on relationships but a low degree of learning of transferable professional skills
We also found that, as always, it is impossible to treat Chinese students as one, homogenous group. The students are very different in between themselves, and a company needs to define the students they are targeting – and adapt their Employment Value Proposition and talent strategies thereafter.
Look out for more information on the four groups we defined in our study and further insights, drivers and trends identified from our research in our forthcoming ‘Generation More’ report.
For more information on MSLGROUP Asia’s Brand & Talent Practice or to receive a copy of the forthcoming ‘Generation More’ report, contact Charlotta Lagerdahl at Charlotta.Lagerdahl@eastweimsl.com