Since all managers are judged by the output of the people who
report them, keeping talented people employed in their
organizations is an important duty for all executive managers.
Employee retention in Asia has similar concepts as in other
regions but naturally comes with some important differences.
The following are some of the more successful methods to retain
key staff as reported
by managers with experience in the region.
Hiring through a Respected Intermediary
Most agree that personal
relationships and status are more important in Asia than in
other regions. People genuinely don t like upsetting their
friends or making them look bad, especially if they have high
standing in the community. Therefore, when managers are hired as
a result of referral from close friends or high status
individuals, the chances of them remaining in the roles are much
higher. Asians know this intuitively and often hire through
friends and family contacts since they can expect greater
loyalty and resolve to make the position succeed.
An employee referral program is an obvious formal way to attract
loyal employees since money and reputation is on the line for
the employees who do the referring. High profile
search consultants can also be used for this purpose since
managers hired through such people do not want to be seen to
fail or be quitters since they worry about the long-term impact on their
Connect with Family
A good practice for all managers in
Asia is to become introduced to the family and other important
people in the lives of valued employees. Relationships among
family and friends are strong in Asia and such people are
often consulted about major decisions such as employment change.
Many managers in emerging countries in Asia are youthful and
parents often have strong influence over their adult children.
Parents have even been known to veto employment change
Therefore, connect with the families of your key people either
through formal company events where families are encouraged to
attend or informally through dinner parties and personal
invitations. If family members come to know and believe in the
senior manager who their bread-winner reports to, they can
usually be counted upon to support employer loyalty.
Something Bigger than Ourselves
Most people have a deep inner
longing to work toward goals that impact a great number of
people and go beyond their own person ambitions. Corporate goals
such as to grow by 15% or to be the preferred vendor for our
customers are not going incite much enthusiasm. Find a mission
that will have an emotional impact on your people.
In Asia, people are excited about the tremendous economic advances being made in
their countries over the past decade. They are intensely excited
to participate in noble undertakings that highlight their
country s success and show they are as good as
everyone else. Many leaders in the region have reported
tremendous success and cohesion in their management teams by
challenging their people to attain audacious goals that matched
or exceeded what used to be possible only in so-called advanced
Activities that build team spirit
are important in the emerging countries of Asia. People need to
feel part of the group in order to be inspired to work for group
goals. In the west, it would be hard to get a group of 15
managers together for a weekend to play games and get to know
each other better. In Asia, people can think of nothing better
and look forward to such activities. Many international managers
(and Asian returnees) often are repelled by the costs in time and
money that are spent on team building exercises. Why can t they
just do their work and go home, they say. However,
international managers who become wholehearted participants have
always improved their business and their enjoyment of work lives as a
Corporate Social Responsibility
programs involving groups of people working together for common
goals are another means of building team spirit. Examples such
as building homes or schools for low income people or raising
funds to feed needy children are inspiring for many people and
they become justifiably proud of their organization. Like all
goals, CSR objectives should be compelling and clear.
Informal Relationship Building
Formal team building events and CSR activities often require a
lot of time and resources to undertake and usually take place
only a few times per year. It is clear that relationships need
to be built and maintained through less formal means in between.
In Asia, activities involving food are considered important and
psychologists confirm that there is a link between eating
creating emotional bonds. Instead of eating alone or in front of
a computer screen, international managers should eat lunch with
their key people on a regular basis. They should also arrange
evenings together with managers that include families.
International managers (including
Asian returnees) are often dumfounded to discover that
initiatives to improve company results by giving rewards for
individual performance can have the opposite effect. For
example, a competition that rewards individual managers in
production, sales or some other important measure can lower
motivation and also harm team cohesion.
The reasons behind this are interesting. People in Asia are
concerned about the feelings of others and worry about
retribution if they are seen to be showing off or putting
themselves too far ahead of the group. Talented people will
sometimes hold themselves back so group harmony does not suffer
(and so they don t have to worry about being a target for
Managers should group people into teams and have them work
together in competition with others. Top performers will often
help less gifted team members with the result of better results
for all and harmony (and retention) is strengthened.
When involved in key company
initiatives such as implementing a new system, working toward a
quality certification or helping with an important company
expansion, people in Asia will often not want to disappoint the
group by leaving before the project is completed. During such
projects, senior managers are wise to organize special team
building sessions, formal ceremonies for milestones and
regular planning meetings that ensure people are engaged. If key
managers involved in such projects are targeted by competing
employers, they will be thwarted by demands by candidates to
delay start dates for many months in to the future when current projects
Long-term Incentive Plans
Implementing incentive plans that
pay benefits over multiple years can be another good retention
strategy. Key managers see a big payout as an opportunity worth remaining for. Competing employers who target key managers
will have difficulty justifying recruiting them because of
demands for large signing bonuses to compensate for the
long-term incentive plan.
Paying for Education
People in Asia value education and
anything that is free. Companies that support their people
through advanced degrees are more likely to keep them. The cost
for education programs in emerging countries is often minimal by international
standards but retention will be noticeably better. In most
emerging countries, contracts can be made such that education
costs are reimbursable if employees leave the company within
a certain period after completing the program. The result is a
happy, motivated employee who is committed to remaining with the
Pension plans in emerging countries
are often not expensive by international standards but are
considered very important for employees. Key managers with
lucrative retirement benefits will generally be more stable than
ones who do not have them. Sometimes qualification periods can be
shortened so managers deemed critical can be covered. The
result are happy employees who feel looked after for the
future. Competing employers who may target the high performance
managers discover their costs to hire will be high
since there will be demands for large payments to compensate for
the loss of the pension plan.
People in emerging countries value
extra employment benefits. Companies that provide extra benefits
and can bare the extra administration aggravations to do so, are
often rewarded with higher retention rates. For instance,
executive healthcare benefits that include extended family
members (such as parents) with smaller deductible payments do
not cost much to provide but will be well thought of by the
entire family (and they can be allies for employment stability). Providing an
automobile to key people is another powerful motivator, as is
home internet service and regular updates to smart phones (a
high status item in Asia). Some companies report that giving
days off on birthdays is also a good idea.
Programs that provide low interest rate personal loans for
employees to buy a house or automobile is another particularly
good retention strategy, although challenging to administer. Qualifying for bank loans is still a
difficult process in emerging countries and the result will be a
major advance in the employee s life. Such loans often become
immediately payable if the employees leaves the company and are
strong motivators for career stability.
Most so-called advanced countries
have passed strict legislation preventing religion from invading
the workplace. In emerging countries, such regulation is usually
non-existent and people are often more connected to their
religion. Managers who
are sincere in their faith find that they are able to use
religion to bring people together to accomplish noble goals, as it is
That said, religion can also be a divisive force if used
incorrectly. A US call center manager from the US bible belt can
build enduring relationships with his key people in ardently
Christian Philippines. The same person in Muslim Malaysia, will
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proactive and well known in our sectors of focus. Regional
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CEO Forum presented by PLDT ALPHA Enterprise is the largest
regular business event in Philippines and considered one of the
most important in the Southeast Asia region. The forum serves as a
hub for the spreading of ideas that help executive managers
overseeing enterprises across the Asia Pacific region.
Attendees are both expatriate and Asian management personnel
overseeing multinational and regional organizations. Held in
Philippines, presenters are leaders in their industries and
engaged in momentous pursuits of significance to the entire
CEO Forum is operated as a CSR (Corporate Social
Responsibility) activity of Chalre Associates, one of Southeast
Asia's most prominent senior management executive search firms, to
promote Philippines as a premier business destination in the Asia
Here to go to Asia
CEO Forum now!
CEO Awards presented by Aseana City represents the
grandest alliance of local and international business people ever
created to promote Philippines on the world stage. As one of the
largest events of its kind in the Asia Pacific region, it is
considered a must-attend occasion for business leaders active in
The star-studded Board of Judges of Asia CEO Awards give
away 10 awards to many of the most accomplished leadership teams
and individuals currently operating in Philippines and the region.
The awards recognize extraordinary leaders who have demonstrated
outstanding achievement for their organizations and contributions
As one of the fastest growing nations on the planet, the world's
business leaders have their eyes on Philippines like never before.
The annual gala was established as a natural outgrowth of Asia
CEO Forum, the largest regular networking event for the
business community in Philippines.
to go to Asia
CEO Awards now!
throughout the world call upon the Principals of Chalre Associates for thought leadership.
Below are some examples of published material written by our
consultants or international journalists who refer to them. For a complete list of published work,
Getting Ready For The
Deluge: Outsourcing in Philippines
Chalre Associates senior staff
Economist Intelligence Unit of the Economist magazine
asked Chalre Associates' Chairman, Richard Mills,
to write a chapter about the Philippine outsourcing sector
in its annual Business Guide Book. The material
provides a Executive Briefing on the progress and major
issues facing this industry that is certainly one of most
significant growth stories in the world.
Asia Pacific Mining
Conference 2007 - Report
Chalre Associates senior staff
The 7th Asia Pacific Mining Conference put on by the Asean
Federation of Mining Associations was perhaps the largest
such event in the region. Richard Mills, Chairman of Chalre Associates
gave this report on what was said by the prominent mining
people who presented.
State of BPO in Philippines: Dan Reyes Speaks
Chalre Associates senior staff
Mills, Chairman of Chalre Associates,
interviewed Dan Reyes of Sitel for ComputerWorld (US) recently to get
his views on the state of the BPO industry in Philippines. Dan
presented US readers with compelling information to support his view
that Philippines is currently seen as the "Number 1" option by global
companies sending BPO work to offshore destinations.
Dan Reyes is easily one of most experienced Business Process
Outsourcing (BPO) managers in the Asia Pacific region and the world. He
is head of the extremely successful Philippine operations of Sitel, the
world's largest call center organization. Among other things, he is a
founder and former president of the Business Processing Association of
the Philippines. more