Staff layoffs at a number of multinational companies (MNCs) in the country as a result of the worldwide financial crisis should present an opportunity for small and medium-sized domestic enterprises (SMEs) to grab whatever talent they can, according to the head of a global recruitment agency.
The SMEs should do so before the MNCs realize the resilience of the Chinese economy and start rehiring sometime next year, said Tony Goodwin, CEO of Antal International.
Hiring people now can bring greater long-term benefits than firing, Goodwin told China Daily in an exclusive interview.
In these uncertain times when developed economies, especially the US, are sliding into a recession, corporate executives should think "long-term" in formulating corporate human resources strategies, Goodwin said.
In China, US companies tend to react a little more aggressively to the perceived effect of the global economic downturn in the reduction of their workforce, Goodwin said. Domestic enterprises and European multinationals have shown much greater restraint in their response to the unfolding crisis, he said.
The conservative approach is a wise one because of the underlying strength of the larger developing economies, particularly China.
"Firms that are now firing people will experience problems in coping with the growth of business next year," Goodwin said. "They will have no choice but to start rehiring then."
As some MNCs are on the downsizing path, they have provided a window of opportunity for the small- and medium-sized companies to recruit the talents they would not be able to find in the past.
"If the financial crisis had not had happened, the smaller companies would never have stood a chance of competing with the big corporations for top managers," Goodwin said. "Now is the best time for them to tap the market for talent."
Goodwin also said that instead of cutting staff, foreign companies can save costs by speeding up the process of localization by hiring more Chinese managers and professionals, rather than bring people from their own countries. The quality of Chinese talent, especially those who have worked at foreign companies, has improved rapidly, he said.
Liew Mun Leong, CEO of Singapore-based MNC CapitaLand, one of the largest investment and real estate companies in China, said the firm will hire even more locals in 2009 to eventually have a 100 percent Chinese management team.
(China Daily November 7, 2008)