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How to Retain and Motivate Chinese Employees

Posted by: Fabia Meinhold
Category: Business in Asia
How to retain your Chinese employees

Many companies, especially foreign managed businesses, struggle with the growing talent shortage in China. The turnover rate exceeds 20% and the unemployment rate is at its lowest of 3.6% according to Trading Economics. Therefore, is it becoming increasingly difficult to retain Chinese employees.

Take a look at one of our previous articles: China’s Labour Law 101: Hiring & Firing

This article will help you to understand what Chinese employees expect from their employer and give you the tools to successfully retain your employees in China.

Meet the compensation expectations of Chinese employees


First of all, one important factor to retain your Chinese staff is the salary, along with bonuses and paid time off. It is crucial that they correspond to the qualifications of the employee and the market trends. Chinese employees generally value merit pay and want to feel that they receive a fair compensation that guaranties a certain financial stability. Furthermore, the salary reflects the social position and success of a person, which is one of the reasons why the compensation is so important in China.

Currently, the wages in China tend to further increase. According to Trading Economics, the average wages increased from 76121.00 CNY/year in 2017 to 82461.00 CNY/year in 2018. Similarly, the minimum wages in China reached 2480 CNY/month in 2019, when there were at 2420 CNY/month in 2018. However, we advise you to remain alert to changes on the employment market and to adjust your compensation packages accordingly.


In the last few years, quality of life has become more and more important for Chinese employees. Therefore, getting different kinds of benefits is now one of most employees’ expectations in China. Benefits may include health insurance, retirement benefits, flexible working schedules, as well as other benefits and allowances.

Be aware: The Chinese New Year is one of the most important family holidays in China. Therefore, some Chinese employees may expect their employer to grant them longer holidays on occasions like this.

Offer training and career development opportunities

Other major aspects are the professional training and the career development opportunities that your company offers. Having the possibility to improve one’s skills and professional situation is a great factor of employee motivation. However, you should adapt your offer depending on the employee. A senior employee for example could be more interested in retirement benefits than in training opportunities.

Build a sense of belonging

It is well known that in China relationships play an important role. The Chinese term “guanxi” refers to the personal network someone has and often implies reciprocal favors. It is the core of social relations in China. Therefore, focusing on interpersonal relationships and teambuilding activities may help you to bind your employees to the company. This will forge a sense of belonging among your staff and increase their commitment to the firm.

Moreover, it is critical that the manager keeps regular contact with the employees, listens to their needs, questions and complaints. He should also make sure that everyone is treated fairly, as this represents a big part of what Chinese employees consider well-being at work.

Give feedback the proper way

Chinese culture is all about “keeping face” and “giving face” (mianzi in Chinese). This more or less means maintaining someone’s reputation and elevating it. Thus, recognition at work “gives face” and is essential in China. When one of your employees in China did great work, don’t hesitate to publicly praise it. You may also instore individual or team awards to retain your Chinese employees. Doing so will not only contribute to your employees’ mianzi, but also boost their motivation.

However, be careful when giving bad feedback. If you present it the wrong way, it may be misinterpreted and make the concerned person lose mianzi.

To learn more about Chinese business culture, read this post: Chinese Business Culture: What You Need to Know

Interested in other useful tips for your business in China? Get in touch with our team for a consultation and follow us on social media to receive the latest news.

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Author: Fabia Meinhold

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