Journeying into the business world... one undiscovered culture at a time

Welcome to [Per]Suit of Anthropology, a blog dedicated to the exploration of modern business trends and perspectives from the view of anthropologist, with a special emphasis on cultural understandings of work-life balance and disability rights in the workplace. This blog is a way for me to connect two sides of my professional self that I see in constant dialogue. Though the business world and the anthropological world may not believe it - they have more in common and more to learn from one another than readily acknowledged. Topics covered include: Western business practices and the impact of those decisions on socio-cultural institutions worldwide, invisible disabilities, Ignatian spirituality, work-life balance, and some discussion of issues of tourism and its impacts on culture, and common human capital practices in private industry and government.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Global Workforce Planning - Trends from China

A few weeks back I was bombarded from multiple media outlets with articles about how the Chinese workforce and the way it is trending may impact our domestic American workforce planning policies and procedures?

One article in the Washington Post, by Vivek Wadwa discusses the move by Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to open their doors to recruit international talent. The other article, "Foreign firms less attractive: Professionals opt to join State companies," from the 11/7/2011 Capital Business Report (Authors Wu Wencong and Li Jing) details how many high performing indivudals who work for foreign companies in China, are leaving the lucrative private enviroments to work for their own SOEs. Both of these articles demonstrate an increasing focus of China on attracting, and hopefully retaining the world's best talent.

The challenges outlined in both articles mimic much of what we see in the United States: bright young minds abandoning public service in the sake of working for a 'name brand,' private company are now re-thinking their decisions given the current economic uncertainty. However, with both governments recognizing the new need for bright talent to address the issues facing the entire world (economic uncertainty, technology, advanced manufacturing techniques, the 'war for knowledge'), are we starting to see a trend away from private companies back to government or service-oriented jobs?

Or - is this purely a reflection that during the 2008 global economic crisis, private companies were the first to shed their jobs and tighten their belts? OR, are younger employees recognizing that the idea of company loyalty no longer exists in the way it did for our parents' generations, just leaving to follow the highest paycheck and benefits packages? Regardless of the answers to the above, having a clear understanding of the demographic trends of workforce states and future projections would better be able to shed light on workforce planning trends for the next 5-10 years. Accurately predicting wher ethe employees will tend to look for work could help organizations and governments hone their recruitment practices, and internal operating procedures to best suit the needs of the ever-changing workforce.

Expanding this to a global audience will be the next great challenge, requiring Human Resource officers to have a very nuanced understanding of the needs of each cohort of employees from countries throughout the world. What attracts a Chinese ex-pat, say, may not be the same as what attracts a British ex-pat, an Indian ex-pant, an American ex-pat, or a Brazilian ex-pat. While money does seem to be the overwhelming driving force - I think that deeper seated cultural tendencies will have a larger long-term impact on the decisions persons make to stay at their current place of employment, or to leave altogether.