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金融危机下企业和个人如何应对就业危机
顾问  项凯标   《中国对外贸易》   总第5期
 
Financial crisis has caused lots of real economies to close down, which leads to a great number of people lost jobs in turn. Increase in unemployment rate, layoffs and cut in salaries, all related news are on newspapers, televisions and the Internet every day, causing a panic among people. Are we in an economic depression like 1930s? And isn’t there anything we can do against this? Of course not, the governments and the companies are taking measures initiatively to stimulate the economy, such as the revitalization plans for ten industries in China and 787.0 billion-US-dollar economy stimulating project. All these plans and projects help the market recover confidence. Though the weak market caused by the financial crisis has bad influences on the companies and employees, besides the governmental supports, companies and employees still can take this crisis as a chance to take measures against the unemployment problem.

The company

The companies are under the influence of financial crisis at the first time, especially export-oriented companies and labor-intensive companies. According to the data the customs, in Jan 2009, the import and export value in China was 141.8 billion US dollars, down by 29% that of the same month in 2008; with that in Guangdong Province, which usually takes one quarter of the foreign trade in China, in Jan 2009 was 36.63 billion US dollars, down 31.1% a year ago. So, unless the companies bankruptcy and dismiss the employees, enterprisers have to take measures against the unemployment problems, and take the companies out of the difficult situation, through changing the operation mode.

a. Basing on the employees

Companies should treat the employees as important assets, as they can create value for the company and outstanding employees can create more value. Some companies reduce costs through cutting the number of employees, which will have effects in a short term, but can also bring unpredicted results. For example, existing or potential customers may leave, suspicions inside and outside the companies will enlarge the influence of the crisis, simple and crude layoff won’t help reduce the burden on companies, but may cause loss of technicians and skilled managers. What is the most important, the corporate culture and spirit brought up in years’ work may collapse, and the excellent employees may leave. In this way, to companies, it is better to take flexible measures against the crisis, instead of layoffs, to stabilize the confidence of the employees. Without confidence, a company hardly can walk out the difficulty.

Facing the crisis, Ningxia Tongda Coal Group Company doesn’t take measures like production cuts or layoffs, or even reducing salaries. The strategy of the company is to keep production, if there is enough cash flow, as the company will have a faster development than other companies when the fundamental of the market changes. The decision by the management team was welcomed by the employees, and their loyalty and the team-spirit are improved.

b. Review the development mode

Facing the financial crisis, the company operators should think for a while, whether the development mode was suitable. According to the report by Economic Information Daily on 2nd Feb 2009, in the background of financial crisis, there wasn’t a surge in “unemployment of farmers” in Quanzhou, Fujian Province. Till the end of 2008, 1.50 plus million farmer workers found jobs and 3,000 more new companies were founded there. How could Quanzhou do this? These dle and small-sized companies focusing on export market were influenced the most by the crisis, but these companies in Quanzhou managed to turn back to domestic market, through subcontracting with local companies with brands and surporting production, and found a way to survive. The sound industrial clusters there also give help to these companies.
Chinese enterprises should learn 1997 Southeast Asian Financial Crisis and the current financial storm. That is to say, Chinese companies should focus on domestic market, watch the development of domestic industries, extend local industry chains, implement market diversification strategy, explore new emerging markets, and boost the development and research of new products, while develop export-oriented economy.

c. Reserve talents

In the wave of companies closing down, weak ones are washed out, but this doesn’t mean that the competition will ease, as several industrial giants may be formed through M&A. At present, the competition between companies is the competition of talents reserve, so companies should pay more attention on human resources management, implementing the strategy of talents reserve. It is reported that 20% employees at Wall Street of USA have lost their positions since the sub loan crisis broke out. And these people become the hunting object of the financial companies, and also the choices of Chinese finance industry.

As companies used to focus on production expansion, the development of employees was ignored. According to a survey of 282 state-owned companies, the investments on employee training only takes 2.2% of the whole salary, 49.5 RMB per employee, far below the ratio (10% to 15%) in developed ries. An authoried institute had a survey on the employee training system in Chinese enterprises, which showed that 92% companies haven’t established a solid training system.
   
Facing the crisis, companies should reasonably deploy the human resources, strengthen the employee training, and unit eveybody in the company, to turn the crisis into a chance. Now companies are not so busy with production that they can carry out trainings, the development strategy and mission of the company to specific skills. And the results of the trainings will show in the future development. According to the statistics, the input and output ratio of trainings is 1 to 50.

With a reserve of compound strategic management talents with long term development plans and experieced technicians and experts, the company will easily realize the renewal of the company structure and get the supplementary, prepared for future development after the market recoveries. Hebei Lizhong Group took measures against the crisis, like exploring excellent talents of this field, training employees, focusing on technical research, sharing the positions but no layoffs and exploring new markets, etc. And the measures has achieved good results.

d. Innovation and Research

Though the oversea is weak and orders decrease, some strong export-oriented companies managed to reduce the bad effects of the financial crisis, through boosting self-development and research, innovating the technology, improving product mix for export and so on.

Fujian Hongyuan Group is a company focusing on exporting textile fabrics. Due to the international financial crisis, the company had an export value in 2008 16.0 plus million US dollars lower a year ago, two production lines were idled, and more than 400 workers laid off. All these meant the company was in danger. But, in the later half of 2008, Hongyuan Group and Institute of Chemistry, the Chinese Academy of Sciences together successfully developed “new renewable bamboo fiber textile material”, which has a leading technoloy in the world, and got independent intellectual property rights. During the 2nd Asian Sporting Goods Exhibition held in Hongkong in Nov 2008, this new material interested more than 220 oversea customers, and brings back the orders. In 2009, the company opens a new production line for the new renewable bamboo fiber textile material, which provides 500 plus job positions, meaning Hongyuan employs 100 plus new workers.

For the individual

People should do something when facing unemployment, as people should improve their skills for the salaries all the time.

a. Improve personal competing ability

Personal competing ability refers to the ability that keeps the oneself advancing others in the same competing conditions through continuously strengthening and improving oneself’s skills. In this way, you can have more chances and can create more value than others.

For example, we notice that more companies in the talent market seek for technicians or skilled workers, which means experienced workers often have more chances and better salaries and benefits than the common workers, the competing advantages of experienced workers on common ones.

Microsoft found that in the statistics of 7 main layoffs since 1996, employees in technology and sale departments have a very low unemployment ratio, never exceeding 10%, as these departments are where the core competeting ability comes . Now many high officials companies are trying to improve their knowledges in Chinese and Chinese Culture, learning a foreign language, or having a college class, in order to keep their competing advantages. Now the demand for small languages experts is strong, but the reserve is not that large. Learning or improving the skill of second foreign language become popular among the college students and the white-collar.

b. Adjust the idea of employment

Facing the crisis, employees should get a clear understanding of the job market, and adjust the ideas of employment accordingly, form a positive attitude towards the life and the future, and improve the skills. Meanwhile, the employees should innitiatively participate in training projects, get experiences and improve skills, planning for self-own carrier and development plan.

Change the old idea of employement, and form a pragmatic and diversified attitude. No hurry in finding a perfect job in one-step, and seek for a development with a position. Now, stay calm and learn some basic skills, making preparation for future opportunities.

c. Create self-own businesses

Since the crisis broke out, many people have lost jobs, but it is an important way to solve the problem of unemployment to set up self-own businesses, as it not only can solve the problem of selfown, but also create more positions. It is estimated that one new business can add 3 to 4 new positions.

The owners of Happy Pot Boiled Food, a food brand in Shenyang City, Miao Guoqing and Zhao Qingxiang, are two former army officials, who served in the army for 26 years. Since 18th June the first shop opened, the brand has had 14 chain shops, and paid more than 1.0 million RMB of tax. Now the company is planning to establish a national brand. This is a good example.

To seek opportunities in the crisis, and make improvements in this weak season, that is what Chinese companies and people are saying and doing. With an improved competing ability and skills, the companies and individuals will have a bright future after the economic winter.