Finding the right Chinese medical executives can be a challenging proposition. Certain positions, like regulatory executives, general managers, and excellent business development executives are currently in short supply. Over the last five years, the salaries of Chinese medical executives have also skyrocketed. Today, a good business development executive with fifteen years of medical experience in China is getting about $250,000 per year. Senior Chinese regulatory executives, who are in very short supply, are sometimes making over $150,000 per year at Western medical companies in China.
It is difficult in China to determine who to hire because it is often difficult to understand the candidate’s background, and getting references on potential candidates in China is often hard to do. For some positions, job-hopping is still rampant. It is very important to find a Chinese medical executive that you can trust.
Today, most Western medical companies in China prefer to hire local Chinese, Chinese returnees, or Chinese located in the Asian region who have had some Western work or schooling experience. Oftentimes it is easier for a Westernized Chinese executive to understand the Western medical company’s business philosophy, ethics, and the way the foreign medical company wants to do business. Local Chinese that have not left China for school or work can sometimes be difficult to trust because they have limited experience with Western business practices.
Hiring Trends for Medical Executives in China
Ten to fifteen years ago, top medical executives at multinational corporations were largely foreign expatriates, and local people in senior executive positions were rarely seen. Over the last few years, there has been a localization trend, with recruiters and headhunters looking for local Chinese executives, returnees, or Asian expatriates from Malaysia or Singapore (on local packages) instead of foreign Caucasians (on expensive expatriate packages). This trend is driven by cost savings, as the compensation for these executives is generally lower than the compensation for foreign expatriates.
Despite the localization trend, there are several challenges regarding hiring local Chinese employees. As noted above, it is difficult to find the most talented local medical executives. Many companies complain of a shortage of leadership skills among local executive hires, and most of the talented medical executives who are in high demand are already happily employed by another company. Furthermore, some of the most talented local medical executives are beginning to make salary demands approaching those of Caucasian expatriate counterparts. Talented local Chinese managers who have already been headhunted and switched jobs multiple times generally have a good sense of their value and can demand higher wages.
Recruiting Strategies for Medical Executives in China
Websites – Some of the most popular recruiting websites in China include www.51job.com, www.chinahr.com, www.job158.com, and www.zhaopin.com. The popular American classifieds website www.craigslist.com, although still relatively new in China, is also beginning to gain popularity among Chinese who speak English. This may be another place to target English speakers for your China business.
Newspapers –51job Weekly is an extremely popular publication dedicated to job classifieds in affiliation with 51job.com. Large cities throughout China publish their own local newspapers with classifieds sections, while Chinese language newspapers in the U.S. are used for recruiting returnees. Some of these newspapers published abroad include Washington Chinese News (www.washingtonchinesenews.net) for the Washington, D.C. area, World Journal (www.worldjournal.com) for the east coast, and Sampan (sampan.org) for the Boston area.
Campus Recruiting – The top nine Chinese universities are considered the “Ivy League of China”: Peking University (Beijing), Fudan University (Shanghai), Tsinghua University (Beijing), Zhejiang University (Hangzhou), Nanjing University (Nanjing), Xi’An Jiaotong University (Xi’An), University of Science and Technology of China (Hefei), Harbin Institute of Technology (Heilongjiang), and Shanghai Jiaotong University (Shanghai). MBA programs are also becoming very popular among Chinese professionals. Some of the best include the China Europe International Business School (Shanghai), MIT-China Management Education Project (Beijing, Shanghai), Wharton Executive Education China (Shanghai), Kellogg-HKUST (Hong Kong), and Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (Shanghai).
Job Fairs – Job fairs are extremely popular in China for low to mid-level executives. Online job fairs allow candidates to meet prospective employers, apply for jobs, upload resumes, network with peers, and even have live interviews online. “Fixed” job fairs are regular events that occur on a fixed schedule, often on a daily or weekly basis. A comprehensive list of upcoming job fairs throughout China can be found at www.zph.com.cn (Chinese language only).
Employee Retention in China
When recruiting in China, it is very important to keep in mind that retaining the most talented individuals will be difficult. Company loyalty is not always strong in China, and individuals can easily be lured from one job to another with better compensation or benefits, especially top medical executives with marketable English and Western business skills.
Many managers suggest hiring slightly less qualified individuals and training them, as this helps to build company loyalty. In addition, many foreign investment enterprises (FIEs) in China try to keep their global strategies and policies mostly intact, because this is a selling point for Chinese employees, who like to be exposed to the Western style of management that is not often available in Chinese companies. Chinese employees are also attracted to things like training programs, performance based promotions, and staff development.
Allowing career advancement is crucial to retention. The most talented individuals in China are very demanding in terms of promotions. The younger generation in China’s private sector is not willing to wait for promotions based on years of experience and expect to be rewarded immediately for their accomplishments. The Chinese also tend to be very sensitive to job titles, so some FIEs have the practice of assigning a standard title in English and a more important-sounding title in Chinese.
Boss-employee relationships in China are generally deeper and more complex than the same relationship in the U.S., so it is very important to make Chinese employees feel as if they belong to the corporate “family.” Managers should allow for social interaction to help Chinese employees bond with their managers. In the case of a foreign boss, it is extremely important for the manager to facilitate the acceptance of the foreign boss into the “family” of the company in order to build staff loyalty and increase retention.
China Medical Executive Wages and Compensation
Medical executive wages in China are now approaching a level on par with medical executive wages in the U.S. Chinese employees need to be paid the going wage or higher for the top talents to be retained. Professional and executive staff salaries are significantly higher than the national average wage, particularly in Guangdong Province, Shanghai, and Beijing.
There are two types of bonuses that are common among FIEs in China: performance-based bonuses and annual bonuses. The amount and frequency of performance-based bonuses can be determined at the discretion of the FIE. Annual bonuses, on the other hand, generally amount to about one month’s wages, and are often paid around the time of the Chinese Lunar New Year (usually in late January or early February).