Tag Archives: China

HR Data Analytics – Case Use by HR Organziations

© Ogerepus - Fotolia
© Ogerepus – Fotolia

The Chapman Consulting Group just completed their Spring HR leaders meeting in Beijing on May 15.  This time Lenovo hosted the session at their Beijing headquarter office.

The topic for this round is centered around Managing Global HR in the age of ‘Big Data’.

  • What companies are doing to optimise talent and HR systems in parallel with the advent of global and regional Centres of Excellence;
  • The increased use of data and analytics as another tool of Global HR management; and
  • The effect this is having on the type of HR Leader progressing within the profession.

This theme is consistent with their #1 trending HR focus areas for 2014.

I have captured key points from the meeting below.


Lenovo – Shared Services

Lenovo, the world’s leader in the PC industry, had just implemented a global HR system, making the switch by eliminating several disparate systems into a global solution.   While they have done all the requisite change management requirements with organisation stakeholders, they are seeing that people still like to do things the “old way.”  How true!  People hate to change.

While Lenovo made a clear stand that all everyone need to adopt and utilise the new system they do have a VIP process for their top key executives.  The VIP allows for telephone hotline and/or email communication to a HR professional for assistance.  However, everyone else is expected to utilise the new self-service model.

The benefit of going global with their new HR system is now they have the ability to manage their workforce under one roof.  Previously, HR was unable to access “real time” data and instead, was managing people with spreadsheets.


Pfizer – Improving Retention

Employee retention is a huge risk in the pharmaseutical industry in China.  Industry average is around 25-30% turn-over each year.

Pfizer is the global largest pharmaceutical player and is also the largest in China.  Even Pfizer is not immune to the high turnover rate.  In fact, competitor companies target their employees, because they are the largest.

To combat turnover and improve retention they turned to “big data” to better understand drivers of turnover – they created an employee profile of turn-over drivers.  The profile Pfizer developed is employee specific with a “risk score.”

Pfizer partnered with a consulting company to develop the analysis tool combining existing employee data and against employees who left the company.  By looking at former employee profiles they then were able to map those to existing employee enabling Pfizer to see trending issues that may cause turnover.  Seeing this information ahead of time allows HR to partner with BU leads to take proactive actionable steps.

Some examples of high risk dimension include:  employees where are a rehire (they have already left once), short-time with a manager (have not developed a strong bonding with the direct manager), and long tenure in a role (it’s time to refresh with a new focus).  I was thinking these are all indicators of high risk turnover by itself.  So, why do you need to do a study?  The genius is that employee turnover is multi-dimension.  Not one thing by itself are drivers of turn-over but, by combining all the various turnover drivers and employee profile, you begin to see a multifaceted profile of their employees – HR and BU can then take multiple tracks to drive retention.


Qualcomm* – Use a Data Analytics 

Qualcomm has a dedicated data analytics team.  That team started in 2008 and was a small group who was responsible for generating large HR data but, on spreadsheet format.  Over the years, Analytics Team went on to focus on benchmarking to creating data visualisation and now focusing on predictive modelling for the company.

Qualcomm human resources has the ability to pull up dashboard data an a click of a button.  This is information is globally accurate and with the ability to do drill downs by organisation, business function, geography and employee types etc.  This enables Qualcomm HR, at all levels – HRVP to HR specialist, to have the same data points, at any time.

The analytics team also conducts research projects analysing the success of a merger and acquisitions project.  The team created a social network analysis / model indicating the strength on network and social ties.  In a M&A, one would typically want to see the newly acquired company integrate into the overall company.  The faster employees integrate the greater the success outcome.  Creating such a model allows Qualcomm to analyse and visualise social interactions to gain insight on who were the “bridge builders,” those who were the best at helping with integrating after a merger.


Doosan – Don’t Over Do It With Data

Doosan is a Korean-based conglomerate.  The HRVP reminded us that sometimes over use of data can be detrimental to business decision.  Instead of using judgement, managers often ask project analysts or HR for more data to help with their decision making.  With the data provided, business will ask for more next level data, to back up the high-level data.  Analyze the data, analyse more data, then the data paralyses you.  By the time the data is complete that the information is out of date and decision window is closed.  How often have we faced this before?  The presenter was so right on with this point.

In HR, we also have metrics and data to measure our performance.  The roundtable participants all have HR KPI scores they manage to.  One hotelier HR said that after a HR systems implementation that their HR satisfaction scores dropped.  I thought that after any large project implementation that one would expect a drop (remember that people hate changes).  Instead of managing to the dropped score HR should be managing to improving the score and maybe, that scoring criteria will be different from the prior standard but, the processes and systems have changed.

Doosan further explains that in a business downturn, for example, HR is expected to manage employee reductions.  So, what happens if HR is successful with meeting the employee reduction targets and morale KPIs are on track yet, the business continues to decline.  Doosan HR further suggests that we use experience and judgement to help the business.  Data is only one part of the story.


This wraps the summary of key points by each presenter.  The Chapman Consulting Group always does a good job with brining together a group of HR leaders from various industries for sharing and networking.


*I am employed by Qualcomm.  However, the information contained within is the opinion of the author and not that of my employer. All company and/or product names may be trade names, trademarks and/or registered trademarks of the respective owners with which they are associated. Furthermore, this blog post does not represent an endorsement of their products and services and I have woven my own experience in this post. This is for informational purposes only. There is no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information.
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China’s Toughest Human Resource Issue in 2013 – Air Quality

Some rights reserved by Bohan Shen_沈伯韩 http://www.flickr.com/photos/antonis/8513582105/
Photo Credit: Some rights reserved by Bohan Shen沈伯韩

I am an expat working and living in China for the past 2 years.  It has been a tremendous experience for me and family.  It is an experience of a lifetime learning and adapting to a new culture.  I have the privilege of blending my work and life in this country.

As a HR professional, dealing with the “war for talent,” engagement, talent development and retention are on-going topics for me and other HR confront while doing business in China.

However, at the end of the first two years, there is one thing that I cannot overlook – China’s deteriorating air and other environmental problems.  It is a constant and daily reminder of physiological and psychological impact.  I monitor the air quality index on my mobile phone each morning as I wake up.  Wearing face masks is as common as I wear my socks and shoes to go out each day.  I get on busy subway train and face the pushing and shoving as ordinary citizens do each day.

This has caused me to rethink what sustainable life means for its people working in big (and small, for that matter) cities in China.  This should be, if not already, a human resource topic that needs to be addressed now.

Deteriorating Air Environment

Since the US embassy started to publish an AQI (Air Quality Index) from its website and likewise, China has started to publish its own data.  There is greater awareness and transparency for better environmental and air quality.

Fewer expats and foreign special talent are willing to come to China.  We saw earlier this year that a number of “old China hands” were leaving China, in part due to the degrading air quality environment.  Others were declining new assignments to come to China.  This is especially true of expats with families and small children.

Middle and upper management skills continue to be scarce in China.  Companies continue to rely on expats for knowledge and skills transfer.  Thus, it is taking companies longer to find internal candidates willing to take on China assignments.  There may be more cost for companies and “hazard pay” and additional home leaves may be needed for expat assignments.

Chinese employees are feeling the impact of high air-pollution levels as well.  I have been hearing more employees asking about internal transfers to the US.  In part, they are concerned about the deteriorating air quality on their young children.  High costs of housing and grueling education for their children are other reasons.

Apple and Toyota are just two among a growing number of companies who are resorting to providing face masks to employees.  Companies are installing air purifying systems in offices and have the potential of making this as a new aspect of employee benefit.

Social Environmental Stress

Chinese HR leaders see the impact of other social environment impacting employee morale and engagement.  In addition to normal work stress, employees come to work at a higher stress levels.  South China Morning Post cited a Regus survey on employee workplace stress and found that Mainland China saw the biggest number of stressed workers with 75 per cent of the 355 respondents polled reporting a rise in stress levels from 18 months ago – 25 per cent higher than the global average.

Sources of stress include job-related career development, time management and constant change in organizational direction.

Daily life of commuting to and from work is another source of stress.  Watch is video of people pushing and shoving of over-crowded buses and subways.  Employees go through this twice per day, going to working and returning home.

In this video, Tencent News depicts various sources of anxiety and stress felt by young Chinese professionals.

Impact on Business

Businesses say it is tough to curtail air pollution while trying to maintain China’s economic growth target.  However, when air quality is in the stratosphere, planes can’t fly, government is halting vehicles on the roads and factories faces shut down.  The city of Harbin, a city of 11 million people, came to a grinding halt in October.  Shanghai, China’s financial center, also came to to a hitting record high on its pollution index.  The government ordered school shutdowns, limited automobile traffic and its airports were closed.  There is direct impact to businesses and China future economic growth if air quality issues persists.

Topics for Human Resources

There doesn’t appear to be any social cushion to help people manage and cope.  People can’t run away from the air.  With China’s rapid rise economically, this is causing strain on people trying to catch up with “The Jones,” as the saying goes.

These employee angst are seeping into the workplace and has an impact on employee engagement, mental health and other effects.  It isn’t too much of a stretch to think that environmental issues will take a toll on employees and their focus at work.  An increase in employees going to hospitals to treat smog related illnesses disrupts productivity at work and see increase costs for medical treatment and potential, see increase costs on medical insurance premiums.

Is giving out N95 face masks to employees enough?  Is there more that we can do?  Please provide your ideas below.


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Chinas Generation Y Is Changing Office Culture – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Chinas Generation Y Is Changing Office Culture – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

The Gen Y, post-80’s generation, are becoming an even greater population of the workforce.  They have now been in the workforce and gaining experience.  They want greater advancement more than ever.  On the other hand, the post-90’s generation are now entering the work place.  It is becoming an even more greater challenge for managers and human resources to create a dynamic workplace that can cater to the needs of this generation.

26-year-old Hazel Wang decided to quit despite not having another job lined up.

“It was a huge decision for me,” said the former Shanghai resident. “But I felt the old job could not help me achieve my self-actualization goals.”


report issued earlier this year by human

-resources consultancy AonHewitt found that members of Gen Y, which the findings of this survey describe as people born in the 1980s, became the main age component in China’s talent market in 2012.

“If you want to have post-80s employees, you have to make the workplace more inclusive and more creative,” Ms. Lu said. “Gen Ys don’t just want to execute orders, they want to participate in decision making.”

As this younger generation becomes a bigger part of the workforce, many Chinese companies—including both state-owned and independent firms—are overhauling human-resource management to attract and keep this vital demographic.

What are you and your company doing to keep the Chinese Gen Y’s engaged?  Leave your comments below.



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LinkedIn Recruiter Workshop – China is 3 Years Behind US

LinkedIn Recruiter WorkshopLinkedIn held a recruiter training workshop earlier in the week in Beijing and Shanghai.  They started off with the easy stuff – doing a basic search.  Then they got into a bit more complex search parameters such as using Boolean search.  Alright, maybe this isn’t so tough but, using the right search string can yield better results.

Other capabilities is doing skills search to map out common job description by peer industry companies.  Following the approach of identifying peer companies it is quite easy to do market mapping and gather other market intelligence.

All this takes a bit of practice and some trial and error.

While I noticed that LinkedIn Recruiter platform use in the US is bread and butter for US recruiters.  However, China-based recruiters have not adapted to LinkedIn Recruiter as quickly.  Hence, the training this week.  LinkedIn need to get their recruiter base up to speed quickly or risk its recruiter base using other local platforms.

Dan Shapero, Vice President & Global Head of Talent Solutions, visiting China this week, said China is about 3 years behind the US recruiter utilisation and capability.  He also hosted a dinner for a few clients.  LinkedIn indicated that we can expect to see more LinkedIn executives visiting China in the near future.  China is a huge market for them and can’t be ignored in growing their membership base.  Let’s see what LinkedIn has up its sleeves.

LinkedIn Dinner



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Employee Referral Program – Building a Referral Culture

© iQoncept - Fotolia

Survey studies show that Employee Referral programs bring in the best hires in the shortest time.  John Sullivan writes extensively on the best practices.

In a recent benchmark survey of companies in China, all companies studied have a formal referral program and 100% offer a referral bonus to employees with successful hires.

The average bonus payout is roughly 3,000 RMB (slightly under 500 USD).  The upper range of bonus payments, are reserved for difficult-to-fill and managerial positions, on average is 10,000 RMB (1,600 USD).  The very high end of the range are between 25,000 RMB (5,100 USD) to 30,000 RMB (6,100 USD).  These payments are for the most critical and senior level hires for the company.

While I don’t have statics, a show of hands, indicate that the average referral rate is roughly 20-25% out of the total sourcing channels.

Survey Summary:

*Data collected by 招聘兄弟会,Q2, 2013.

Industry # of Participating Companies Average Bonus Range Minimum (in RMB) Average Bonus Range Maximum (in RMB)
Automation 2  ¥3,000
Banking 2  ¥5,000  ¥25,000
Electronic 1  ¥2,000  ¥15,000
Entertainment 1  ¥2,000  ¥7,000
Healthcare 2  ¥3,500  ¥10,000
Industrial 3  ¥2,833  ¥6,333
Internet 2  ¥2,000  ¥8,000
IT/telecom 8  ¥2,838  ¥10,250
Professional Services 2  ¥10,000  ¥30,000
Retail/FMCG 4  ¥1,875  ¥6,667
Grand Total 27  ¥3,258  ¥10,762
Payout Period Total
After Onboard 4
After Onboard (3 months) 3
After Onboard (50%) / After Probation (50%) 1
After Probation 8
After Probation (2 months) 1
After Probation (3 months) 1
After Probation (6 months) 8
Not Applicable 1
Grand Total 27

Building A Referral Culture

Out of the 27 companies surveyed, just one company does not offer any referral bonus.  Yet, that company achieves a referral rate of over 35%, year over year.  Only two other companies exceed this benchmark with 45% and 65% referral rates but, those other 2 offer referral bonuses.  The other 24 companies, even with bonus money, not a small sum, in China standards on the high-end, do not yield the high results as one might want.


The high referral rate are a results of the following:

Proactive Recruiters – they do the same things as what other companies might do, that is to send out referral notices by email or other company communication channels.  To achieve the desired referral rates, they go the extra mile by proactively engaging employees and managers for referrals.  They sit with them to go through their list of business cards and identify other leads.

Leadership Involvement – referrals is not just an HR activity.  Hiring managers announce vacancies to their team in staff meetings.  Managers encourage their staff to provide leads to the recruiting team for follow up.  This one company in particular have a referral lunch where senior managers will take successful referral hires and the referring employee out to lunch.  This reinforces management and leadership focus on referrals.

Engaged Employees – employees refer if they find an emotional connection with the company and people whom they work with.  Otherwise, there is no incentive for them to refer and if the work culture is poor, why subject their friends to an unhealthy work environment.  One recruiter suggested, we should look at the retention rate and its correlation to employee referral rates.  In this one company’s experience they have exceeded benchmark referral rates without monetary rewards.


Please refer to this presentation I delivered at the HREC 9th Annual Recruiting & Staffing Conference (July 16-17, 2013) in Shanghai, China.

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