Bosses try to woo workers as economy recovers
Updated: 2013-02-24 19:01
JINAN - Migrant workers who used to demand unpaid wages from their bosses before traveling home for a family reunion may find their positions reversed after the Spring Festival.
After the week-long national holiday, Wang Jiwan, board chairman of Qingdao Hengda Co., a shoe manufacturer based in eastern China's Shandong Province lined up with 50 senior executives at the factory gate, bowing to welcome returning workers.
It may seem odd, but he is not alone. Many companies are trying every trick in the book to attract workers and make them feel wanted. Some distributed cash ranging from 200 yuan (31.85 U.S. dollars) to 500 yuan to parents of employees who promised to come back after the holiday. Others offered a 15-percent pay rise in the new year.
Due to a lack of fixed employment contracts and rising living costs, each year after the Spring Festival, a traditional family holiday, it is common that migrant workers default on their jobs to settle back down again in their hometowns.
Labor shortage, a concern that has long plagued Chinese business owners, is an old problem and as the economy picks it will only get worse.
This year, manufacturers are suffering from shortages. However, it is not due to staff leaving but the warming economy, which has meant more orders on the books.
Labor shortages become particularly acute after the Spring Festival. However, this year is somewhat different, said Wan Zhong, manager of Wanjiashengshi, a human resource company based in Jinan, Shandong Province.
Enterprises have not lost a significant number of staff. Instead, they need more employees to fulfill rising orders, according to Wan.
"The 40 companies that had outsourced a recruitment process to us reported a lower staff turnover compared with previous years. They want more workers simply because the economy has survived the crisis and they would like to expand production," he said.
China's economic growth quickened to 7.9 percent in the final three months of 2012 after hitting a three-year low in the third quarter, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.
Official data also showed that the purchasing managers' index (PMI) for China's manufacturing sector has been kept above 50 percent for four straight months since October. The January figure fell slightly by 0.2 percentage point from December to 50.4 percent.
A PMI reading above 50 percent indicates expansion, while a reading below 50 percent indicates contraction.
Manufacturing is regaining momentum, boosted by domestic and global recoveries, said Zhang Weiguo, an economic expert with the Shandong Academy of Social Sciences. He forecast that manufacturers will do much better than last year.
"This year the company has plenty of orders. Workers can soon start work once they are in place," Wang Jiwan said, adding that Hengda, which ships 40 percent of products overseas, will see sales up about 30 percent in 2013 as international demand rebounds.
Meanwhile, Shandong Haosheng Group, a home textile manufacturer, is short of about 500 workers due to increasing orders from the domestic market.
The company has seized orders from seven upstream firms in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces after the Spring Festival, according to the company's human resource manager, Sun Luguang.
Most employers will scale up hiring in the first quarter this year, especially the post-Spring Festival period, as the economy rebounded in last quarter, said Feng Lijuan, a human resource expert with 51job.com, China's leading online job-hunting service provider.
Labor-intensive industries including real estate, automobile parts manufacturing and pharmaceutical companies posted a high number of recruitment requests, according to a survey conducted by 51job.com.
Meanwhile, experts said China's economy will pick up steam this year. A report compiled by Xiamen University forecast that the country's economic growth will rise by 0.43 percentage points from last year to reach 8.23 percent in 2013.