Humans as China’s Most Important Resources

Courtesy of HIREProductivity

Global consulting firm Mercer consolidates news and breakthroughs in the field of human resources in its weekly newsletters. Recent buzz indicates that employees in both Hong Kong and China are facing controversial and volatile policies that are about to affect their work environments.

First, those with “excessively high incomes” might be facing revised tax structures due to government efforts to normalize the income distribution in China. Social security and healthcare standards of coverage are currently geared toward expansion. On the latter end of employee issues, the standard retirement age may also be raised in the near future.

The 2011 Report on the Work of the Government describes in greater depth the nation’s efforts toward expanded and more widely beneficial employment. They mention emphases on employing university graduates, promoting entrepreneurship and “safeguarding” the interests of all types of workers. The primary means of safeguarding which the Report mentions seems to be the modification of the nation’s income distribution, mentioned first.

First, the increase of pay for the low-income bracket will be headed by the increase of minimum wage and strict enforcement of that raise. These efforts will target income improvement in both urban and rural parts of China. Next, the distribution of income across the nation will be evened out through increases of the individual tax thresholds and the standardization of executive incomes and bonuses. Finally, the Report mentions a hardened focus on prohibiting illicit forms of income as another important component of monitoring the income gap in China.

The importance of the issues on income distribution are clear: Wen Jiabao has placed emphasis on the HR aspect recently as well through online chats (according to Xinhua).

On another matter surrounding employees in China, China Daily reported last month that the age at which Chinese are permitted to retire will be increased (the current ages are 60 for men, 50 for women and 55 for female civil servants). Such a change will reportedly be guided by careful concern for the state of China’s workers, based upon contemporary changes in the population’s basic demographics like age and employment rates.

China Minister of Human Resources and Social Security Yin Weimin was the source that assured China Daily of the government’s awareness around the complicated nature of these employment issues.  However, China Daily commented that government officials would support this change due to benefits of working longer for workers in China’s public sector. The article, as displayed at, mentions good social security benefits, hearty pensions, relatively higher pay and “light workloads” with respect Chinese workers’ private sector counterparts.

These interesting issues around human resource management in China are received differently by various parties of Chinese employees. China Daily, on the topic of retirement specifically, described one example in a professional from Tsinghua University. Yang Yansui feels that uniquely catered approaches can be taken for different demographics of workers, in the form of individual negotiations. While this might be effective for certain HR components, others should be standardized – as well as improved.

Lior Partizsky, editor-in-chief of Laowaiblog, noted that a distinct feature of Chinese workers is still guided by traditional Confucianism. That is, that workers are engrained with a notion of doing what they are “told” or meant to do – without question. In order for China to foster its own innovation and creativity, Paritzky says, this population may need to progress beyond this traditional tendency. To enhance the potential of each individual worker in China, the elements of an employee’s compensation and treatment – which he or she may not feel inclined to question – need to be maintained and perfected by those public and private servants’ government.

Be it through time frames or compensation regulations, the management of China’s human resources will be a crucial aspect in the maintenance of the nation power’s continued economic progress.

About Cory Welsh

Cory Welsh is a progressive BA/Masters degree program participant at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and received her B.A. in Communication in May 2011. After growing up in Ventura County, CA, Cory moved to Los Angeles in order to solidify her interest in facilitating relationships and organization through communication. Most recently, Cory served as the exhibitor relations coordinator for the 2011 LA Times Festival of Books. She is currently serving as a student intern at a renowned PR agency in Hong Kong, and will complete her Masters of Communication Management in December 2011.
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