White collar productivity should not be overlooked when looking for opportunities to increase profitability in China. In the past, wages represented a relatively small percentage of the cost structure of doing business in China. This is no longer true today. Over the course of the last 20 years, China has undergone a massive transformation, and during this period, wages have increased an average of 10% per year. As a result, wages now, and specifically white-collar wages, represent a significantly higher percent of the overall cost structure. As such, white collar labour requires increasing attention for improving productivity.
What’s the best way to see gains? It’s all about the soft stuff, like training, career development, work environment, and the perks. Traditionally, these are not things that people think of when they think of China. However, times are changing.
On-the-job training is just the beginning; it goes much deeper than that. Training should be specifically designed for an individual employee to increase capability and capacity. Young workers are hungry for the skills that are needed to grow within their current position and prepare them for the next.
It’s no longer enough to promise something vague like “hey, there’s lots of opportunity here for you in the future.” China’s workforce wants to see individually tailored and highly specific career goals to meet, and for the company to reciprocate with advancement. We’re seeing more detailed career development plans than ever.
The days of working in a dimly lit, grungy office are over. China’s workforce craves feeling proud when they come to work. And brag about it. Areas on which to focus:
- A beautifully designed, brightly lit, clean office are table stakes.
- Standing desks are growing in popularity.
- An organized office where people can quickly access equipment they need is a more productive office. Lean 5S principles, popular on manufacturing shop floor, are welcomed in China’s modern offices.
- China’s workers want to see and measure indoor air quality according to international standards.
- Leaders make core values the centrepiece of the workplace, to remind a team daily what we believe in and care about. At CMD, our core values are visible in a high-traffic areas.
China’s workforce is mega-social. Whether an expensive latte or new work-out, friends enjoy showing off where they work. While it’s fun to celebrate the good, bad PR can go viral through back channels that are impossible to monitor – instantly. At CMD, growing our reputation inside and out is a top priority.
Just in the past couple of years, we’ve seen significant improvements in what companies are willing to offer as the demand for skilled white-collar workers goes up.
- Google-like services for food, and workout facilities are growing in popularity as China’s society grows increasingly health conscious.
- Flexible working hours are on the rise.
- Weekend outings upon achieving goals are not uncommon.
Collectively these things add up to healthier, happier, and more productive employees.
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