How to hire employees in China
Once you have made the decision to expand your business and begin hiring in China, you need to carefully consider the best way of hiring employees in China. This means thinking about unique Chinese cultural considerations, how the interview process works, how to recruit the best local talent and how to ensure full compliance with China’s employment laws.
Guide for hiring in China
While utilizing job interviews for successful hiring in China has some similarities with the process of interviewing in North America or Europe, there are a few differences worth keeping in mind:
- Greeting each other
It is common for both sides to introduce each other with a handshake. However, it is also not uncommon for both parties to make a brief bow to each other;
- Stating names
When each side introduces themselves, not that it is common to state the surname first. In addition, the interviewers/employers should also state their titles (e.g., ‘Managing Director’). Note, it is perfectly acceptable to check with an applicant what the correct pronunciation of their name is;
It is common for interviews to begin with general questions (e.g., what brings the applicant to China, if from outside the country). This ‘breaks the ice’ before moving on to questions relating to the role itself. Note also that it is not uncommon for personal questions to be asked in interviews;
At the conclusion of the interview, interviewers should indicate when they can expect to communicate a decision and both sides should shake hands.
General workplace etiquette
Within the workplace, there are a few different aspects of Chinese workplace culture that are worth being aware of:
Workplaces in China expect punctual attendance at work and work meetings. However, at the same time, there is general recognition that traffic and complicated addresses can mean that individuals are legitimately late. Employers need to be aware of this and should be reasonably tolerant of excusable lateness;
As modesty is emphasized in Chinese culture, it is important to dress conservatively. In an office environment, this usually means a dark suit and tie for men and standard business attire for women;
- Saving ‘Face’
Maintaining one’s ‘honor’, and the respect of one’s family and community is hugely important for hiring in China. This means maintaining an air of competence and remaining in control of one’s emotions at all times while in the workplace.
- Working hours
Working hours should be state in a legally-compliant employment contracts and should not exceed the maximum hours stated under the law (usually 44 hours). Employers should be aware, however, of a tendency for some employees to stay in the office until their superiors have left for the day;
Lunch breaks can go from one to two hours. After lunch, it is common for Chinese colleagues to take a short nap.
How does recruitment in China work?
As with recruiting anywhere else in the world, the first step is to scope the size of the human resource needed, and set out the role requirements. Note that recruitment and hiring in China for highly-skilled staff is often quite competitive. Using a China recruitment agency, with extensive local networks can be an essential tool for recruiting the best staff.
As well as engaging a recruitment partner, all jobs should be advertised on major regional job sites.
Attracting the best talent
In order to attract the best talent for your Chinese business operations you will need to consider:
- A competitive pay package
Pay needs to be benchmarked against similar roles to be competitive when hiring China. Note that some cities are more expensive than others and this feeds into market pay rates;
- Benefits packages
An important part of acquiring the best employees for your firm will be ensuring that employee benefits (such as paid vacation and insurance) are as good as, if not superior, to the competition;
As bonuses are commonly included in contract negotiations during the process of hiring in China, consider whether or not you will make pay bonuses part of your overall remuneration package.
Compliance in China
As well as making your employment offers attractive, when hiring in China you must ensure that your hiring is in full compliance with employment, tax and business laws and regulations. This includes:
- Providing an employment contract for all employees
This is a legal requirement, and should set out employee compensation (in yuan renminbi), benefits and the performance management process (including, where necessary, the termination procedure);
- Ensuring that employees are hired by an entity that is legally entitled to employ in China
This may mean setting up a Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprise (‘WFOE). Or, alternatively, using a global Professional Employer Organization (‘global PEO’) to locally employ your workforce, while they still work under your direction. In China, global PEO solutions are usually implemented by Foreign Enterprise Service Companies (‘FESCOs’), such as New Horizons;
- Guaranteeing staff their minimum entitlements under the law in China
This includes compliance with minimum entitlements for leave, pay, benefits and working hours;
- Withholding tax
This means making sure that payroll taxes are withheld and all other tax obligations complied with.