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Staying Ahead: the Freudenberg Approach to Employee Satisfaction

Retaining talent is no longer just a salary and titles game in China. Local employees are increasingly looking for chances to develop their careers and grow professionally. While international companies have typically been at the forefront when it comes to training and advancement plans, their local counterparts are quickly catching up in order to attract and retain the best people. This makes the “war for talent” even more competitive, as companies are looking for innovative ways to remain attractive to their most promising team members. 

This is exactly the reality that drove the top management of the Freudenberg Group Regional Corporate Center Asia based in Shanghai, to rethink their approach on employee retention. They realised that while offering competitive remuneration packages is important, career and development opportunities are the ultimate key to long-term staff retention.

Besides different generic training programs, functional trainings, and professional networks, Freudenberg China has established long-term training programs for junior managers via the “Freudenberg Leadership Development Program” (FLDPA). This program focuses on high potentials, who have proven that they can take on more responsibility and want to grow. Over a time period of almost 2 years the participants pass different modules that help them to develop different management skills and competencies  focusing on leadership skills, presentation techniques, project management, and personal development. They meet top executives and are constantly challenged during projects and team work. The FLDPA is an educational and learning platform that offers the chance to develop personally and functionally, while also establishing a network among young professionals within the company.

Now, Bettina Schoen, General Manager Regional Corporate Center Asia of Freudenberg China, is happy to report that they were able to lower the fluctuation rate among managers to a mere 2%. In addition, they have rolled out this program, which was launched in China, on a global scale due to its promisingly high success rate. “We consider this a win-win situation: not only do our employees gain real job satisfaction, but they are also learning the essential skills for being top managers at our company in the future.” Over 100 Freudenberg employees in China have completed the program with many more applications coming through on a regular basis.

Considering that 53% of companies in China are looking to expand their headcount in 2016, it is essential that HR departments start thinking about long term strategies for keeping their employees engaged. As China’s economy is maturing and moving away from manufacturing, white-collar professionals with soft skills such as effective communication and critical thinking are in high demand. This, coupled with a general labour shortage, in big part due to China’s aging population, adds substantial competition for a limited pool of people.

According to a recent major salary study, the most popular means to foster retention in China in 2015 was offering a structured career progression plan. In addition, the second biggest reason for employee turnover was the desire for advanced learning and experience building. Because of this, it is crucial that international companies invest in their employees if they don’t want to lose them.

Here are some HR initiatives you can implement to stay ahead of the curve:

  • In-house development programs such as the FLDPA will reassure your employees that you are committed to their growth.
  • A structured career path will give your employees a long-term vision with your company and an impetus to perform. Impressive job titles are still sought after in China and an added incentive to stay with your company.
  • Mentoring sessions with senior managers can build a close connection in the team and integrate more junior staff into the company culture.
  • Education subsidies are increasingly important especially with Generation Y Chinese looking to complete a Masters Degree. In return, it is common place to require employees to stay with the company for a certain amount of years.
  • International exchange opportunities foster the cultural awareness necessary for today’s global business environment and give your employees a chance to broaden their experience.
Content provided by Fiducia Management Consultants
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