Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thoughts for 2009

As a new business totally focused on employer communications in China, 2009 promises to be a pretty scary year. Only a few months ago all the talk was about the 'war for talent' and companies struggled to hire the people they needed - especially in mid management and leadership positions. We were receiving plenty of enquiries about how we could help customers develop their employer brands, asked for our ideas on tapping into new 'passive candidate' channels and were kept pretty busy working with Microsoft in particular, on their campus recruitment campaign.

How things change! Within a matter of weeks, companies crying out for solutions suddenly announced hiring freezes, or worse. All plans for 2009 seemed to have been put on the back burner and our forecasts took a hit. But then we took a good look around at the general state of employment communications in China and found more than a few reasons to be cheerful.

To put it bluntly, apart from a few innovators, the vast majority of 'talent managers' preside over a pretty underwhelming recruitment and engagement programs. In an age where all candidate traffic should be driven to the corporate career site, we still find plenty of shocking career sites - badly designed, badly maintained and often not even functional.

Only a few are working on SEO in an effort to drive their job offering high on the search engine rankings - most are still satisfied to lump their jobs onto one or more of the big job boards - Zhaopin, 51 etc - along with all the competition. Surely in 2009 the home of employment communications shouldn't be in with 62,000 other competitors for talent, but housed on your own channel, when you can hold more meaningful conversations with the best candidates.

As Rob pointed out in his recent post, pretty much all the 'ads' found in this market are jargonised job descriptions, impossible to understand even by company insiders. It is very difficult, reading any type of employment communications, to figure out what distinguishes one company from another...why should the best candidates chose you, rather than your competition? Although most big companies do have an employer brand articulated at the global level, invariably it doesn't work in China. This is generally because employer branding is such a new concept in PRC, not many people have real experience of it, and struggle trying to bring an EVP handed down from global HQ to life in this environment.

Another area that seems ripe for exploration is the posting of 'job ads' online. I still can't work out why more HR folk aren't experimenting with the massive potential of the wider internet. Posting to the open web - social networks, bbs, blogs, video hosting sites - surely offers huge payback to the companies that get it right. Of course, before you can really take advantage of this area, you need to know what to say about need a brand communications strategy and the means to get your message out there. Anyway, one of my predictions for 2009 is that a few brave souls will take the plunge and be repaid handsomely for breaking out of the job-board and headhunter mindset.

And talking of September I took part in a seminar organised by CCH (of China Staff fame) - the talk was about emerging recruitment practices. Mal Bentley, Oracle's Head of Recruitment for Oracle explained how he had created an in-house headhunting team to take care of all of Oracle's recruitment in Greater China. This effort has paid huge dividends for Oracle and I expect many other large employers to follow suit and develop their own direct sourcing teams over the next few years.

So, after getting over the initial panic of head-count freezes and budget clampdowns, it is clear that there is an awful lot of work companies should be doing over the course of 2009 to make sure they are well set for the continuing battle for talent over the long term. They need to sort out their brands, their websites, their communications, their job ad distribution. They need to really get to grips with metrics - especially source of hire and true cost per hire - and they need to think about using talent management software, both pre- and post hire. They should also think about experimenting with emerging assessment tools, psychometric, aptitude and others, as part of the talent acquisitions and evaluation mix. Yes, there is a ton to Oxus will be back with a vengeance in 2009 to move the market along.

31st December 2008


由美国次贷导致的席卷全球的经济危机,已经深深影响了世界的每一个角落,中国当然也不例外。随着针对这场危机认识的深入,我们不仅需要从业务模式上进行反思,更需要从管理模式上进行反思。如何构建具有中国特色的企业管理模式,让中国式管理形成独有的体系,并为企业在风暴过去之后的快速崛起提供卓越的管理平台支持,是我们在经济危机暴虐的今天,需要提前思考并找到答案的必需选择。 从业务模式思考,目前中国最先倒闭或者深受波及的企业,往往都处于全球价值链的最末端。这类企业的共同特征是利润最低化、出口牵引化。随着国外消费能力的大面积萎缩,销售订单急剧减少,从而出现开工不足的现象,由此导致现金流的减少,加剧企业的生存危机。 从管理模式思考,这些企业管理机制非常落后,基本属于人治管理和经验管理。这种管理模式危机在销售增长的情况下一般都会淡化,但只要出现市场波动,最先受影响的就是这些没有任何风险承担能力的企业。市场变动是不可控的,但企业管理模式的更新和提升,却是经营者必需应对并可以主动改进的方向。 看待任何事物,我们都要善于应用辩证的眼光。比如这次经济危机,确实导致销售锐减,赢利下滑。但换一个角度,由经济危机导致的市场低迷,对于想提升内部管理水平的企业来说,却是难得的喘息机会。在销售暴涨或者出口猛增的时候,企业更加关注产品生产和交付,没有足够的时间和精力来考虑管理问题,所以很多企业的管理基础非常薄弱。这种薄弱的管理机制,肯定无法应对企业更大的扩张。未来发展到一定阶段,即使没有经济危机,也极有可能因为内部管理危机而产生一系列经营性风险。 正是基于上述思考,本文拟从人力资源管理角度,谈谈在经济危机的影响下,企业如何实现人力资源管理创新,为企业搭建具有前瞻性的人力资源管理平台,并为企业可持续性发展提供足够的人力资源管理积累和人才储备。 一、构建从职位到胜任特征到知识的逐层演进的人力资源可持续化管理提升体系。 经济危机影响企业的利润和生存,而职位将影响企业人力资源管理机制的健康状况。在现阶段,无论采用哪种管理体系,职位都是人力资源管理的基石。没有科学、规范、完整的职位体系梳理,就不可能构建适合企业特征的人力资源管理平台。在职位体系完善的基础上,再根据职位特性引入能力管理,建立关键岗位的胜任特征模型。在职位管理和能力管理趋于规范的基础上,再根据企业需要建立知识共享平台,构建企业人力资源知本化管理体系。三者联系如下图所示: 很多企业管理者对职务分析的认识还停留在比较肤浅的层面上,认为职务分析无非就是写一份岗位说明书。而实际上,岗位说明书只是成果的展现,更关键的内容在于岗位职责的梳理和岗位任职资格的定义。而岗位职责必需和岗位产出密切相关,所以需要从业务流程和管理流程入手。同时,一份完好的岗位说明书,需要能对岗位进行准确定位,通过关键业绩领域的挖掘梳理出关键业绩指标,为岗位产出的价值衡量提供最重要的依据。这段时间我们先后为数家企业提供人力资源咨询服务,他们都有现成的岗位说明书,但在咨询过程中无一例外都是从职位入手。可见,企业现有的职务分析尚不能支撑人力资源新模式的构建,需要从业务发展、管理模式特性、未来适应性等角度重新进行评估。 二、因应企业管理精细化的发展,人力资源管理度量化成为企业越来越迫切和现实的需求。 在我们为客户提供咨询的过程中,企业最大的管理困惑就是工作量化问题。如何科学评估员工的产出和人力资源部自身的工作效率,成为人力资源从业者操作层面最大的管理诉求。而人力资源管理度量化,可以有效地帮助企业解决这一管理难题。 所谓人力资源度量化,就是从工作中抽取关键指标并建立数学分析模型,从数量化的角度对工作进行分析和评估。比如工作方面的利润完成率、客户投诉次数、废品率等,内部管控上的员工满意度、能力测评等,人力资源管理方面的培训次数、培训效益、招聘成本、薪资成本、员工结构分析等。 人力资源度量化要求每项工作都能抓住最核心的指标,并设计可操性强、准确率高的数学分析模型,通过客观的数学分析对工作进行全方位的评估。当然,人力资源度量化未必能涵盖工作和人员的所有方面,某些指标如果实在无法找到合适的数学分析模型,或者如果采用度量化会加大不必要的管理成本时,可以考虑采用德尔菲法或者其它工具。比如我们在给某家公司提供咨询时,客户要求对中层干部的部门管理水平进行评估。我们设计了部门关键员工流失率和部门工作效率两个指标,而部门工作效率就没有建立数学模型,而是由主管上级根据日常工作表现进行评估。 三、从权力驱动型人力资源管理,转变到以员工为客户的价值驱动型人力资源管理,实现组织利润和员工价值的最大化。 传统管理模式下的人力资源管理,是基于权力驱动的管理模式,通过组织架构内的权力分配实现管理职能。这种管理模式比较刚性,将人力资源管理推到员工的对立面,让员工感觉是在被动的状态下服从和遵守。而客户价值驱动型管理模式,将员工看成人力资源管理的客户,人力资源管理职责就是为员工提供相应的人力资源产品和服务。 在客户价值驱动型的管理模式下,人力资源管理将通过有效沟通更加关注员工需求,让自己提供的培训、招聘、绩效等产品和服务更加贴近员工的实际需要,真正构建以员工为导向的人力资源管理体系。 企业要实现客户价值驱动型人力资源管理模式,需要建立包含价值创造、价值评估、价值分配三个关键环节的人力资源价值管理体系。在该体系范围内,不仅关注人力资源产品和服务为员工创造的价值,也关注员工为企业创造的价值,并通过绩效管理、奖惩管理等工具对价值进行确认和衡量,通过薪资管理、激励管理等工具对员工创造的价值给予相应的回报。 四、构建人力资源知本化管理体系,实现企业内外部知识共享,让企业知识在组织内发挥最大的效用。 在人力资源知本化管理体系建设中,员工是创造知识的主体,组织是积淀知识的母体,流程是传递知识的载体,它们之间的关系如下图所示: 员工知识和能力的差异化,导致他们在为企业服务的过程中,可以创造各自专业领域丰富的知识和经验。人力资源管理者需要将这些知识和经验进行筛选和积累,并提供给有需要的员工更好完成业务工作,在帮助员工业绩最大化的同时,也能让组织效益最大化。 人力资源知本化管理的核心并不在于知识的积累,而在于通过借鉴实现知识的再创造,并由此来构建学习型组织,使企业永远保持鲜活的创造力。要想成为一个基业长青的公司,企业就必需构建知识的共享平台,让员工在分享的同时进行再创造,从而汇聚成企业知识的海洋。也只有这样,企业的管理提升和业务拓展才能获得更加坚实的基础。 五、建立不仅适合企业管理现状,还能满足未来管理提升的人力资源信息系统,帮助人力资源管理者为员工提供更加优质的服务。 人力资源信息系统从基础阶段发展到目前的管控阶段,解决重心还在于业务流程的自动化处理和协同化操作。要应对未来的管理提升,就需要在软件定位上更进一步,从“效能诉求”提升到“管理诉求”。通过人力资源信息系统建设,在企业战略指导下构建多样化的人力资源管理模型,比如前文提到的人力资源度量化管理体系、人力资源知本化管理体系等。人力资源管理软件发展历史沿革如下图所示: 从管控阶段提升到革新阶段,建议企业通过咨询引入对现有管理模式进行重构,并将信息系统作为全新管理模式落地的辅助工具。也只有这样,人力资源信息系统才能真正焕发管理的光芒。 总而言之,经济危机只是在企业发展过程中邂逅的一场暴雨。它督促着我们建立起完善的企业管理模式和人力资源管理平台,在经济低迷期夯实企业管理基础,那么,当风雨过后,一定能比别人更早迎来绚丽的彩虹。


在某论坛上,我发表的一篇关于“低薪如何留住人”的帖子,引起了很大的反响。 帖子大致上是说如何通过以下的几个方面来留住企业的人才。
1。 允许从事个人项目你雇用员工是因为他们聪明,这就意味着他们思考的各种项目,有的与工作有关,有的则很边缘。但是不要低估工作时间所从事的边缘项目的价值,这些项目迟早会与工作挂上钩,带来积极的后果。2。 让他们产生影响力当员工感觉他们能对公司发展做出贡献并产生影响时,是最好的激励。这就要确保他们的工作是有意义的,让他们承担能够对公司有影响的工作。同时,给他们传授工作经验的机会。这样他们从公司得到了认同感,就会很愿意为公司服务。3。 帮助规划职业生涯对大多数人来说,机会和认同感一样,在职业发展中比冷冰冰的钱更有诱惑力。因此,给员工提升技能和认清发展前途的机会有助于提高种程度。4。 尊重和信任他们一项调查显示,一些有意义的行为比如表现出尊重、信任,都可以激励员工。同样,要感谢他们,尽管这是他们的工作,但是如果得到经理的欣赏,他们会投入更大的热情从事工作。
大家就对此众说纷纭。 有留言指出
“谨慎为之,这需要HR对于企业的战略、发展前景都很清楚,企业发展快速,以及企业管理具有稳定性等条件,最好楼主把可以采用低薪留人的前提也总结一下。不是什么样的企业都适合;也不是所有的HR都可以尝试。 ”

现在很多的公司都会提供完善的职业规划,用培训, 晋升机制等这些留住公司的人才。很多刚毕业的学生,培训对于他们而言,必然就很重要,年轻人有对自己理想的美好憧憬, 他们希望看到自己未来的路是什么样的。如果这时候,公司具备这个条件给这些满怀抱负的年轻人做一个比较完善的职业规划,让他们在这个公司看见自己发展的方向,能够展望自己的未来,那很有可能就留住了这些有潜质的年轻人。而对于资深员工来说,职业发展到一定的时候,就会出现瓶颈,如果公司能够很好的处理好这一点,帮助员工做理性的职业规划,相信对于一个帮助自己成长,发展的公司,大部分的员工都会心存感激的。而我们也相信,很多时候,在选择工作的时候,我们看的绝对不止是钱。


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Whats in a Job Ad?

For a long time now we’ve been worried about the habit we see in China of posting a job description in the space normally reserved for recruitment advertising copy. Over the past few months we’ve seen some absolute classics including one for a Financial Controller who listed in their requirements “must be able to use a calculator.”

As I come across more, I plan to post some of them to this blog. Here’s one that sets the tone quite well…a major industrial multinational seeking applicants online:

First, lets check out this position (right-click image to enlarge in a new window). Admin role, needs 5-10 years experience and offers somewhere between RMB1 and 50K per month. Not an awful lot to go on yet, so we read on…

By now everything is crystal-clear. I am confident that I can assume responsibility for “release SWS/JIS to operation” but not so sure that I am suited to “following up engineering change notice and owns reaction plan for execution”. What the..?

We believe that a job ad, (as opposed to a job description), should inspire the applicants to:
a) Read it
b) Consider it
c) Act on it (when appropriate)

And in order to achieve this, it must be:
a) Catchy – both visually and verbally
b) Informative and interesting (to the right person)
c) Include, and be linked to, a clear response procedure

There is far too much to say on how a good piece of recruitment copy should be written and we will soon be launching a short course on this exact theme but the fact remains that the majority of companies recruiting in China are not focusing as well as they should on this critical aspect of their recruitment process.

By failing to do so, they are generating superfluous applications from candidates who are not at all suited to the position simply because they haven’t understood it, as well as potentially turning away those most suited to the role as they felt no affinity with the position due to the same lack of clarity in the language used.

Two additional issues worthy of raising here that I will only touch on briefly today but you will see more about on this blog are:

1) The use of the English language….yes, they do require the incumbent to have good language skills but in order to better facilitate the “read, consider and act” response that we want, why not do it in their own native tongue?In their own language it is so much easier to paint a clear picture of not just “the role” but the opportunity that this job offers the right candidate.

The defensive stance of "we need our applicants to have good English so this screens out the others" doesn't hold water in my books. It is OK to assess their language ability based on their response (cover letter and resume) as well as telephone interviews and even by undergoing testing during screening at a later date.

Step one – find applicants, step two, from thosee applicants identify candidates. This is what “screening” is all about and its role lies not in the “attraction” phase of the recruitment process.

2) The use of a salary indication. Here, a salary of between RMB1,000 and 50,000 really is about as good as ignoring the issue altogether - the approach taken by the bulk of recruitment ads today in China. Proven time and again in the West to generate a higher volume of more targeted responses, Chinese recruiters still shy away from indicating salary levels in their job ads.

Candidates are not dumb. They know that if their previous role was Admin support at RMB 2,000 per month, they needn’t apply for the Admin Manager position elsewhere at RMB 15,000 per month. Likewise, but more important, is that with no indication of salary, the best candidates are left to guess as to whether their expectations can be met and more likely than not, being unsure about it, they will not bother apply. What is the harm in indicating a salary bracket? Is your negotiating power somehow diminished by doing so?

This role: RMB4,000-5,000 / month. Done! I can almost guarantee that in the organizational structure, this role has an even more narrow and clearly defined budget so why not put it out there!?

Recruitment copy is already one of my pet projects and at Oxus we ensure that our clients can write better copy for their job ads or we take on the task of writing it for them. It is the first major touch-point of the candidate journey and a vital part of employer communications that is currently being under-utilized to an extreme degree.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Recruiters feel the pinch as jobs contract

This article is interesting for the insights the writers have found from a number of senior managers of international recruitment firms around the world.

Whilst none of them paint a rosy picture of their businesses for the next year or so, they do identify some areas of opportunity for recruiters, such as assisting in the downsizing process with counseling or by further developing their offerings as a temping agency - a possible indication that job-hunters might be well advised to prepare themselves mentally to take on temporary positions or roles with shorter contract terms.



By Deborah Brewster, Brooke Masters and Sundeep Tucker
Published: December 27 2008 02:00 | Last updated: December 27 2008 02:00

Now that the banking slump has spread to the real economy, global recruiting firms are feeling the pinch.

In the past two months, US-based high-end head-hunters such as Korn/Ferry International and Heidrick & Struggles and staffing groups Adecco of Switzerland and Randstad in the Netherlands have all announced falling revenue and shrinking headcounts.

Banks and housebuilders, two big sources of revenue for recruitment groups, are shedding staff by the tens of thousands, and most other companies are being cautious about taking on commitments. Candidates have also grown more wary about changing jobs.

That means searches take longer and there are fewer jobs to fill, cutting into completion fees. Many companies are also cutting back on retainers paid to high-end firms, and some are taking 90 days to pay their bills instead of the customary 30.

"I think 2009 is going to be a batten-down-the-hatches year," says Alistair Cox, chief executive of Hays, a UK recruiter that focuses on mid-level professionals in 27 countries.

The slump is most pronounced in the US and the UK and in the financial services sector. According to recruiters Morgan McKinley, there were 3,780 vacancies in London's financial service sector in November, down 59 per cent from the same month last year. The total also represented a 30 per cent drop from October.

"The landscape has changed significantly. 2009 will be a shocker and probably half of 2010," said Jonathan Evans, chairman of Sammon Associates, a London-based recruiter.

Russ Gerson, chief executive of Gerson Group, a financial services recruitment and consultancy firm agreed.

"The bottom just fell out in September," he said. "In this environment, there are going to be serious cutbacks among recruiters ... We will see the large firms let go of a lot of people, and a lot of the very small firms will go out of business."

Headhunters never have much visibility on their revenues, but tough times make the future even harder to predict, said Steve Ingham, chief executive of Michael Page International, which focuses on higher-paid banking and other professional sectors. "Can I predict what is going to happen in six months? No," he said.

Germany and France remain relatively strong, as do parts of Latin America. But the slump recently spread to Asia, where several key markets - Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan - are now in recession.

The latest Asia survey of 3,000 hiring managers by Hudson, the recruitment firm, showed a marked fall in optimism, with companies admitting their approach towards hiring had moved decisively from "wait and see" towards downsizing.

Mike Game, chief executive of Hudson Global Resources Asia, said Hong Kong was suffering because of its comparatively higher levels of front office jobs in the banking sector, while hiring growth in China had dropped to single digits.

Christopher Sykes, managing director, Asia, of EWK International, which focuses on emerging markets, said companies in the region were not pushing recruitment plans in order to conserve cash.

There are bright spots: public sector recruiting, restructuring and bankruptcy experts, and outplacement services, where recruitment firms are bought in to assist companies to downsize by offering career counselling.

Matthew Bennett, head of the Hong Kong office of Robert Walters, said that his firm had diversified to reduce reliance on financial services, and covered a range of sectors including retail, IT, telecoms and supply chain logistics.

Korn Ferry was this month hired to find a replacement for Tim Geithner, the president of the New York Federal Reserve, following his appointment as US Treasury secretary by incoming president Barack Obama. But that didn't stop the Los Angeles-based company from saying it would cut 15 per cent of its workforce to save $50m a year.

Recruiters who also provide temporary workers are also doing better than those focused exclusively on permanent hiring.

Investors have been negative about recruitment companies for months. Korn Ferry and Heidrick & Struggles have each seen their share prices fall by 75 per cent in the past year, and Hays and Adecco are down by about 60 per cent since their July 2007 peaks. Analysts predict staffing agency revenues and earnings are likely to stay low for at least the next 18 months.

"Labour markets tend to lag the real economy by up to 12 months," says Kean Marden, a Singer analyst. "Even if the real economy bottomed out in 2009, unemployment would continue to rise until 2010."

But investors may not wait that long. After the dotcom crash, Michael Page's share price nearly doubled in a year when its earnings barely moved, Mr Marden said. "It completely rerated in anticipation," he said.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008

Friday, December 26, 2008

Oxus Christmas Lunch

With the paparazzi otherwise occupied shooting the festive follies of Mando-pop superstars, the people of Oxus sneaked out for their annual Christmas lunch last Wednesday at the exclusive “Café de la Poste” in trendy BeiXinQiao.

Shunning the private dining rooms, the folks from Oxus reserved a table in the general seating area and proceeded to consume a good few kilograms of imported French red meats and wines.

During the meal, the lively discussion generated solutions to the unwelcome impact of the financial crisis in China as well as a full re-working of the judicial system and a 12-step path to full-blown democracy that could be played out in less than 3 months if required. The plans will now stand by until being called upon by the central leadership.

Having enjoyed their main meals, a specially-made Oxus Christmas Cake was revealed and sliced 6 ways without blood-letting before being promptly devoured.

Sensing a good thing in otherwise tough economic times, staff at the restaurant were excited by the amount of wine consumed and may have been pushing their luck when offering the 5th bottle of red after the bill had already been settled and the Oxus crew were stumbling towards the door.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Headcount Reductions?

It seems that in China anyway the worst case scenario with most of our clients has been a "hiring freeze'...I haven't yet heard of large-scale staff-cutting amongst china MNC's that can be directly related to the financial crisis. I guess that after so long chasing talent in a competitive market it would be heartbreaking to let it go again!

Nevertheless, the following article, by Matthew Guthridge, John R. McPherson, and William J. Wolf (from the McKinsey Quarterly , December 2008), is an interesting read if it does ever come to that in China.

Obviously, downsizing may very well effect your reputation as a "stable" employer and therefore your ability to attract talent when the world shakes off its economic funk and gets growing again.

The article outlines a few case studies whereby the downsizing has presented an opportunity to re-organize staff and re-define roles such that they come out of the downsizing a more efficient and streamlined organization with more engaged staff working fresh roles in new teams.

Worth bearing in mind... many still say that this economic crisis "ride" is still only just starting!


The Story:

As deteriorating performance forces increasingly aggressive head count reductions, it’s easy to lose valuable contributors inadvertently, damage morale or the company’s external reputation among potential employees, or drop the ball on important training and staff-development programs. But there is a better way. By emphasizing talent in cost-cutting efforts, employers can intelligently strengthen the value proposition they offer current and potential employees and position themselves strongly for growth when economic conditions improve.

Companies can maintain their attractiveness to internal and external talent by using cost-cutting efforts as an opportunity to redesign jobs so that they become more engaging for the people undertaking them. A job’s level of responsibility, degree of autonomy, and span of control all contribute to employee satisfaction. Head count reductions provide a powerful incentive to use existing resources better by breaking down silos and increasing the span of control for challenging managerial roles—thus improving the odds of engaging key talent in the redesigned jobs.

Consider Cisco Systems’ approach to downsizing during the last recession. In 2001, as deteriorating financial performance forced the elimination of 8,500 jobs, Cisco redesigned roles and responsibilities to improve cross-functional alignment and reduce duplication. The more collaborative environment fostered by such moves increased workplace satisfaction and productivity for many employees. Initiatives like Cisco’s succeed when companies focus on redesigning jobs and retaining talent at the outset of downsizing efforts.

In addition to redesigning roles, companies cutting jobs should carefully protect training and development programs. These are not only essential to maintaining workplace morale and increasing long-term productivity, but they also give people the skills necessary to carry out redesigned jobs that have greater spans of control. During the last recession, International Paper continued offering classes at its leadership institute by replacing external facilitators with the company’s senior leaders. This approach not only reduced the cost of delivery but also, thanks to the involvement of senior leaders, redirected the content of the leadership program by tying it more closely to decisions and skills affecting the company’s current performance. Similarly, IBM retained its employee-development programs during its major performance challenges in the mid- to late 1980s. It took the arrival of Lou Gerstner as CEO and a new strategy to turn the company around, but the historical investments IBM had made in developing its people helped achieve a successful turnaround.

Before undertaking widespread layoffs, companies should use their performance-management processes to help identify strong employees. Companies that conduct disciplined, meritocratic assessments of performance and potential are well placed to make good personnel decisions. These companies should also bring additional strategic considerations to the decisions. They should assess which types of talent drive business value today and which will drive it three years from now, as well as which talent segments are currently available and which will be in the future—keeping in mind, for example, that new MBAs will be equally available in two years. They should also look at which types of talent would take years to replace or develop—for instance, skilled electric utility engineers in an environment where retirements are dramatically reducing supply. Performance management well informed by key strategic questions can minimize the negative cultural impact of downsizing, improve the bottom line, and help identify talented people the company should try to retain.

Companies that are reducing staff must focus relentlessly on the internal cultural and external reputational implications of cost-cutting efforts. Although strong employer brands are resilient, it’s difficult to reestablish brand strength once the culture has been damaged. The way many companies conduct large-scale downsizing decreases efficiency, morale, and motivation on the part of remaining employees. It also increases voluntary turnover among high performers and compromises a company’s ability to attract strong talent in the future, as potential employees wonder how risky it is to take a job there.

Counteracting these tendencies requires creativity. In 2001, Cisco gave generous severance packages and assistance with job searches to the workers it laid off and launched a program that paid one-third of salary, plus benefits and stock options, to ex-employees who agreed to work for a local charity or community organization. Steps like these protected Cisco’s employer brand by attempting to make departing employees feel better about Cisco and underscored the company’s commitment to its people for those who remained. The results were measurable: employee satisfaction remained high, and Cisco retained a prominent spot on Fortune magazine’s “Best Companies to Work For” list.

A strong employer brand is also important for companies undertaking selective recruitment even as they cut personnel costs elsewhere. Using slowdowns to uncover and hire displaced talent is often fruitful. Studies have shown that although overall levels of recruitment may level off or even fall, the quality of workers hired rises in recessions. And opportunities to find and hire displaced talent may be particularly valuable during this downturn, as massive downsizing in the financial-services sector makes available to non-financial companies a large pool of highly educated and motivated professionals who previously might not have considered jobs outside their previous employers or industries.
Some organizations are moving surprisingly quickly in response to these opportunities in the talent market. In late October 2008, the US Internal Revenue Service hosted a Manhattan career fair targeted at displaced financial-services professionals. More than 1,300 people attended, many standing in line for three hours to learn more about an employer that offered a newly interesting brand of “job stability.”

Cost cutting during a downturn is often necessary to ensure a company’s current profitability and future competitiveness. Rather than freezing all hiring and employee-development programs, companies should use this period as an opportunity to upgrade talent and better engage existing staff. This means reinvesting a percentage of the capital liberated from cost cutting into, for example, selective recruiting and development programs and in efforts to safeguard the culture and to redesign jobs so that they are more engaging to the remaining employees.


那么除了钱, 还有什么好办法能激励、留住人才呢?
工作心得! 供大家体会学习。

Saturday, December 20, 2008

When the going gets tough...

The following story ran in the China Daily earlier this month. As corporations persist in using the "big three" job boards to find the majority of their talent, the talent themselves have begun to be more creative in searching for opportunities! I think the story speaks volumes for those like us who have long urged recruiters to diversify their media strategies when recruiting staff.

Two interesting quotes come out of it. The first is an indication that this girl is not alone in her taobao approach and then of course, our astute Professor from Shanghai's Fudan University who notes that "We don't always have to depend on job fairs and agencies to get a job". You said it Professor Gu!

The story....

By Cao Li (China Daily)

Updated: 2008-12-08 07Shanghai-- A woman who lost her job because of the financial crisis has found a new one by putting "herself up for sale" on an online auction site. The 23-year-old woman got a job for a monthly pay of 3,000 yuan ($436).

She used the false name of tony615_2007 to "post herself" on's website on Nov 18, she told China Daily during an online chat on Sunday. A dozen of companies contacted her and one of them is expected to sign a contract with her on Monday, she said. "The idea occurred to me after I couldn't find a job for two months," she said, refusing to give her real name or the name of the company because she did not want media attention. But she said: "As far as I know, several other people are trying for jobs in the same way."

Cai Yuli, public relations manager, told China Daily on Friday that a Shanghai-based advertisement firm "bought" tony615_2007, offering her a strategy research assistant's post. In the statement posted on, tony615_2007 said she majored in business administration last year with excellent marks. She scored 710 in GMAT and won the first prize in a national English contest for university students.

"I lost my job in this economic recession and have to find another Labor is also a product and I'm selling it here," she said in her posting, describing herself as a "tough person".

"It's a very creative way of looking for a job," said Gu Xiaoming, a professor in Fudan University. "Sometimes, people don't know the right way to find a job. We don't always have to depend on job fairs and agencies to get a job."

Citizens of Oxus

Welcome to Citizens of Oxus. You may know us from our Facebook group or may have been referred here by one of our network of similarly minded friends. Whatever the case, we hope you enjoy the content here and do come back another day or sign up for our rss feed.

This blog is primarily concerned with the subject area of recruitment in China. At Oxus we have a VERY holistic approach to the subject that spans the employee life cycle from unemployment through attraction, recruitment, engagement, retention and back to unemployment.

It is a cyclical journey that all of us take and one that we hope to better understand in order that those who are responsible for this very vital aspect of any business are better prepared to make it smooth and efficient for all concerned - after all, getting this wrong is no good for either the employer or the employee.

The contributors to this blog all work at Oxus China ( and we post on a range of topics from Employer Branding and Recruitment Strategy to technological applications such as information management and candidate screening tools.

We are interested inthe media as a whole from a recruitment perspective, especially in the impact that social networking sites and "web 2.0" in general is having on recruitment. Oxus looks to help its clients also better leverage their own assets in this area, whatever they may be.

The subject area is pretty unique and may not be everyone's cup of tea but if this is your game, your career or simply "mission critical" to your business then do read on, post comments and raise questions as you please.

A final note: This blog will be bi-lingual. Where time and resources permit we will post in English and Chinese but most often it will be just one or the other.