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By the AmCham China Human Resources Forum

According to the AmCham China 2015 Business Climate Survey, human resources (HR) issues continue to be a top challenge for members. While most companies remained profitable, growth is proving more difficult as the percent of companies with increasing year-over-year sales fell to 61 percent. HR plays a pivotal role in companies as they seek to find solutions to business challenges in China.

AmCham China member companies' top HR priorities include:

  • Finding qualified employees and managers, both Chinese and American. Among the top business challenges in China, shortage of qualified employees ranked third. On the Chinese side, lack of vocational skills remains an issue. On the US side, air quality concerns make it difficult to recruit senior executives. Indeed, for 66 percent of AmCham China members, at least three-quarters of management positions are held by local Chinese citizens.
  • Navigating China’s labor regulations. It's difficult for companies to expend the resources necessary to comply with disparate labor-related legislations in different cities and provinces. AmCham China welcomes greater legislative and legal reforms for greater transparency, fairness and equity. Furthermore, we support the standardization of labor regulations across the country.
  • Providing potential executives with access to new R visas. In July 2013, the Exit and Entry Administration updated the current visa system and made changes to the visa application process. Lack of clarity, however, concerning the new R “talent” visa issued to “those who are high-level talents or whose skills are urgently needed in China” continues to cause problems.
  • Addressing the mandatory foreign employee participation in China’s insurance and unemployment benefits. Lacking the necessary Chinese language skills to navigate the Chinese medical system, foreign employees are often forced to retain their existing private coverage. Exemption from unemployment insurance is also desired as unemployed foreign nationals no longer hold a valid work visa, making the insurance superfluous. 

To address these issues, the HR Forum has put on several events in the past year to bring professionals together to share best practices and discuss the role of HR in a company:

  • The “New Normal” and Implications for Human Resources (April 15): To dig into the impact of the slowing economy on HR priorities, AmCham China's HR forum hosted a panel discussion stressing the importance of talent retention. It has become clear to HR departments in China that they must be more “open, flexible, and innovative” in order to retain employees across all levels. 
  • Next Generation Solutions for HR Management (June 8): HR experts came to AmCham to showcase how technological advancements could be utilized for talent acquisition and retention, including advanced tools for measuring leadership potential.

The HR Forum will continue to host important discussions this year, most notably in October at the HR Conference. This year's theme is “Navigating the Change,” referring to the slowing economy and what it means for HR in particular. The conference continues the HR Forum's pledge to bring professionals from a variety of sectors together to discuss the critical role HR plays in the success of business in China.