Key Considerations for Managing a Workforce Across Asia

March 11, 2021 | Antique Nguyen

Whether you are a small or global business, staying informed about your industry and maintaining compliance to ensure that decisions are based on relevancy and facts is crucial. Adopting innovative technologies can help fulfill this – whether it is for the purpose of meeting new demands within your industry, or simply through enabling greater room for customization as needs change. For international organizations, HR managers may be confronted by factors such as language or cultural differences and having to comply with specific regulations to their HR systems abroad. As such, firms should maintain a thorough understanding of the jurisdictions they wish to expand in. For instance, in emerging Asian markets, adopting systems that foster strong communication and coordination on an enterprise-wide level is one of many beneficial initiatives companies can implement.


Legal and Language Barriers

In Asia, retaining talent that possess both technical and language skills may be an obstacle for low-headcount countries that lack specialist resources. Whereas in countries where the average English skill is strong or native language of the company is similar to one another, communication barriers between global and local offices may be less common. In particular, when pre-hire screening a candidate, the process of translating and verifying multiple documents in a different language is often time-consuming and challenging in Asia. As opposed to applicants based in America, where publicly available information about arrests or other convictions is easily accessible, international screenings can take far longer. Many Asian countries have limited legal ability and cannot give desired access on criminal checks or public records due to strict privacy laws and other regulations. As a result, firms that are hiring workers overseas are increasing demand for background screening companies on foreign applicants vying for international or domestic jobs.

Adopting proprietary, platform-neutral and mobile-enabled technology can help companies tackle time-consumption, accuracy issues and other restraints that are caused when a company embarks on performing background checks on their own. For instance, Cisive provides one user-friendly system, eSecure Global®, which caters to employees in over 196 countries globally, and provides visibility, reporting capabilities and uniform compliance in over a dozen different languages. It also provides a seamless candidate experience as it is a completely paperless solution that integrates pre-hire screening and post-hire onboarding to support the entire talent acquisition life cycle.


Attracting and Retaining Talent in Asia

When setting up operations in Asia, HR may experience a variety of recruitment challenges due to the different methodologies that each country utilizes. Employers are likely to experience a longer hiring process when there is a lack of understanding about the local recruitment situation or popular channels of employment that differ from country to country. According to the Employment Screening Services Market Research Report of 2020, Asia Pacific is expected to be the fastest-growing market from 2019-2025 for employment screening services.


Here’s a brief summary of the different recruitment pathways across Asia.

In China, recruitment is largely done through major employment websites that publish hiring advertisements. Conducting background checks through reliable services is also an increasingly popular practice. In Vietnam, recruitment channels are similar. Background checks, however, remain hard to carry out and are thus often rarely conducted. In addition, identifying talent with English proficiency is much more of a challenge than in China. Typically, in the majority of Asian countries, checking a potential employee’s credit will be very difficult, as the local credit system has not been sufficiently developed. Companies should thus employ background screening companies to develop a workaround to verify such information. Recruitment in India is primarily done through a recruitment agency. In fact, only large businesses have internal recruitment teams for directly recruiting employees. Moreover, as background checks are often difficult to carry out and costly; they are often not widely conducted. Firms are often left without essential information such as the validity of their candidates’ credentials, education, criminal record and more.

People are a vital ingredient for any company’s success. Companies working in more than one nation have to be acutely aware of respecting local culture, practices and regulations. Establishing a highly organized internal system can be one solution if the company is large enough to scale to that size, as well as HR executives actively taking responsibility. HR managers can also make concerted efforts to help with staff retention such as hiring internal HR staff with good soft skills, especially interpersonal competence, to help increase staff loyalty and enhance positive company culture. In addition, companies should inquire about appropriate external service providers in one or more of the countries in which they operate to streamline HR workflows and avoid discrepancies in background screening checks.


Cultural Considerations

Apart from adopting advanced screening technologies to achieve effective communication, firms should take cultural norms into consideration – as they vary widely and have a direct impact on doing business. For instance, HR managers in India should be aware of the differences in celebrating holidays across different regions, as simple variations can prove complex to outsiders. Let’s focus on the example of annual leave – where many regional holidays are based on diverse cultures and religions that coexist in India. In this scenario, the permitted public holidays and the number of leave days differ from region to region and are based on factors such as the lunar calendar, or where festivals are practiced depending on the dominant religion, region and so forth. In respect of such differences, HR should refer to state legislation to identify holidays that are not only observed nationally, but also within their specific region. Companies will also find that there are deeply embedded localized concepts within countries that may be completely unfamiliar to them as an outsider. Thus, it is recommended that firms learn and address local practices and concepts to ensure awareness and respect are maintained for their employees across the globe.


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