We see a lot of studies and surveys that illustrate in excruciating detail how a large percentage of Americans think their jobs are rotten, their bosses are money-grubbing weasels and their companies are bound and determined to outsource every halfway-decent-paying job to Asia. First chance they get, these workers are ready to bolt their current jobs to find an employer who will truly appreciate them.
Turns out, though, that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, or in this case, the Wall (of China). Employers throughout the Asia/Pacific region are discovering that their best employees are equally frustrated with their current jobs. According to employee research and consulting firm ISR, nearly 50% of the top workers at Asian companies are ready to jump ship.
The study was conducted in five of the largest Asia-Pacific economies (Australia, China, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand), and involved more than 3,000 employees who were regarded as "top talent" from 120 companies in various industries. Want some numbers?
88% of talent-at-risk staff in China say they will leave their current position as soon as they find an acceptable new job offer
92% of Australia's talent-at-risk say the same thing
That number jumps to 95% of Singapore's talent-at-risk employees
Of course, as the survey admits, these numbers are more a reflection of the explosive economic growth in the Asia/Pacific region than they are necessarily evidence of an impending worker revolt. "Employees generally and top talent particularly have the freedom to choose their employer and expect to work for employers that will nurture their talent and allow them to share in the economic success," ISR notes. However, the study goes on to observe that much of the negativity is tied to rigid management styles that are prevalent among region's employers: reactive rather than proactive; risk avoidant as opposed to open to calculated risk; directive instead of participative; and short-term rather than long-term focused.
While "finding and retaining talent" is a chief concern for manufacturing managers in the United States, the idea that other countries have a better knack for keeping good people on staff is largely a myth. "The majority of talent-at-risk' staff in the Asia-Pacific region reported that they would leave as soon as they have an acceptable new job offer," says Patrick Kulesa, global research director for ISR. "This means that the risk to current employers is immediate and must be addressed."
It could be that the day Americans are longing for -- the day when China's workers start demanding more money, and thus making it difficult for the country to remain a "low-cost center" -- could be on the distant horizon. But then again, considering how large China's pool of untapped labor is, that horizon is probably waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay off in the distance.