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The Chapman Consulting Group Surveys the Latest HR Trends in China

Hosted by: SAP Honeywell Johnson & Johnson Deutsche Bank Cisco Diageo

The Chapman Consulting Group has just hosted its Quarterly HR Leader Update Series in China. The four events were held at Cisco, Honeywell, Johnson & Johnson and Deutsche Bank. The breakfast session at Johnson & Johnson and lunch session at Deutsche bank focused on Country and Regional HR Leaders. The Honeywell session involved Country and Regional Heads of Talent Acquisition. An afternoon tea at Cisco brought together Shared Services experts.

In conjunction with Organisation Solutions, we also jointly hosted HR Leaders at the offices of Diageo and SAP for two separate “Good Science Great Practice” sessions (delivered by Alison Eyring, CEO of Organisation Solutions) and a further “West to East movement in HR” session at Nike. It was a busy and enjoyable week of networking with our China-based HR leader alumni.

Our observations on the latest news on HR in China are as follows:

  1. There is an increased presence of international HR talent in China. There is a growing number of Asians from Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan and India taking up “local plus” and even local HR assignments. Regional talent that is mobile is seeing that China is where the action is.
  2. A growing number of global headquarter HR ‘heavyweights’ are being moved to China. These individuals are being transplanted into key China HR Head roles or China-based Regional Head of HR roles, often for one to two year stints to groom a local successor. These are proving to be excellent “development” assignments for high potentials from the US and Europe primarily.
  3. The China HR market remains buoyant. There is very strong demand in Beijing and Shanghai for HR talent, as economic activity and organisational growth targets remain very good, despite the economic uncertainty in other parts of the globe.
  4. We are seeing more global and international roles appearing in China. These are being created around talented HR practitioners in China (who global headquarters feel need to be stretched) but also around some global business units that are moving their epicentres to China, hence necessitating a global HR support structure.
  5. There is a lot of talk around HR shared services models and developing the right service delivery model, particularly with strong growth curves ahead for many organisations. The lesson appears to be to approach the development of HR shared services models carefully, allowing careful consultation with the business, and the standardisation of only some key processes, leaving room for continual tweaking.
  6. Talent Acquisition targets remain gigantic, particularly across the IT and manufacturing sectors. Talent Acquisition Heads are harnessing better social media, process outsourcing and international mobility strategies to meet hiring targets.
  7. Employee relations issues are still swamping China-focused HR professionals. Employee focused legislation is becoming more complex. It is difficult to find ‘pure’ Employee Relations (ER) experts in the market, and this is fast becoming a hot skill-set in China.
  8. The rise of local companies is continuing. These organisations are a major threat, from a talent perspective, for multinational companies. They often pay better and can provide a working/cultural environment that is better understood in China (versus multinational companies).

Commenting on the China HR market, Sarah Ettershank, Associate Director at The Chapman Consulting Group, said that senior HR Leader searches in China are becoming more and more demanding, as every company wants “the Chinese HR superstar”. “We really find the benchmark very high. In terms of what Regional or Global HR Leaders are looking for in their China HR Heads, it’s amongst the highest in the region”. Ettershank continued to say, “Continually we find ourselves scouring Asia or the US or Europe for Chinese HR talent looking to return home or ‘other’ Asian talent to move to China”.


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Key Contributors:

Matthew Chapman
Matthew Chapman


Global Management
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Matthew Chapman
Global Management

Matthew Chapman


Matthew (Matt) Chapman is the Founder of ChapmanCG.

He has also created the Thrive HR Exchange, a global community platform for people leaders and HR professionals to find and exchange inspiration, ideas and insights. Discover some of his interviews with HR leaders here.

Matt has a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting and Business Law from the University of New South Wales, Australia. He is a Singapore Citizen and divides his time between Asia Pacific, the Americas and EMEA.

Matt is a wellness, self-improvement and fitness addict. He has completed six desert, 250km ultra-marathons in Chile, China, Egypt, Antarctica, Namibia and Madagascar.

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