Us­ing Er­gonomic­ser­gonomics used as as the the crux crux of of tal­ent tal­ent re­ten­tion re­ten­tion

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By XU JUNQIAN in Shang­hai xu­jun­qian@chi­

Look­ing out from the win­dow that over­looks the sky­line of Shang­hai Lu­ji­azui Fi­nan­cial Dis­trict in Pudong dis­trict, Gan Jian­song makes no bone about his am­bi­tions to fill the of­fice spa­ces in the build­ings, many of which house some of the most prom­i­nent banks and listed com­pa­nies in China, with his fur­ni­ture.

As the Asia Pa­cific di­rec­tor of Amer­i­can er­gonomic fur­ni­ture com­pany Hu­man­scale, Gan be­lieves that his com­pany’s sig­na­ture chairs can be a key fac­tor in help­ing Chi­nese home-grown com­pa­nies re­tain their tal­ents in an in­creas­ingly com­pet­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment for top minds.

Founded in 1983 and head­quar­tered in New York, Hu­man­scale brands it­self as the pro­ducer of fur­ni­ture that adapts to the body of users, in­stead of re­quir­ing the users to adapt to it.

Over the past five years, Gan has man­aged to boost the com­pany’s sales in the Asia Pa­cific re­gion by 13 times. China has been Hu­man­scale’s fastest-grow­ing mar­ket in the re­gion.

“From la­bor-in­ten­sive to in­no­va­tion-driven, Chi­nese home- grown com­pa­nies have grown to a point where al­most ev­ery boss agrees that tal­ent is their most valu­able as­set, and all value is cre­ated while sit­ting down,” said Gan.

Us­ing this ar­gu­ment, Gan has con­vinced ma­jor Chi­nese com­pa­nies like Ten­cent to buy his er­gonomic chairs whose start­ing price of 3,000 yuan ($452) makes it about 10 times higher than the av­er­age offerings in the mar­ket.

When Hu­man­scale first en­tered China in 2010, Chi­nese branches of multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions ac­counted for al­most 99 per­cent of its business.

To­day, 40 per­cent of the com­pany’s sales is con­trib­uted by Chi­nese State-owned and pri­vate com­pa­nies. The com­pany cur­rently has show­rooms in Chi­nese cities such as Shang­hai, Bei­jing and Chengdu.

Gan ex­pects these two sec­tors to form a key growth en­gine for the com­pany over the next three to five years.

An ear­lier sur­vey con­ducted by Chi­nese on­line re­cruit­ment plat­form Zhaopin Ltd showed that only 20 per­cent of the 13,400 of­fice work­ers in­ter­viewed feel “sat­is­fied” or “very sat­is­fied” with their work­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

The sur­vey also dis­cov­ered that the younger the in­ter­vie­wees are, the pick­ier they are about their of­fice en­vi­ron­ments.

With a goal of help­ing Chi­nese business grow at a speed of 25 per­cent ev­ery year, Gan said the big­gest chal­lenge for the com­pany is to have po­ten­tial cus­tomers know about Hu­man­scale.

Gan added that one of the pos­i­tive signs he has seen is the rapid growth of small or­ders — those un­der 300,000 yuan — in the Chi­nese main­land, which in­di­cates that the de­ci­sion-mak­ers in Chi­nese cor­po­ra­tions are more open-minded and will­ing to try such prod­ucts than be­fore.

“There is a grow­ing aware­ness among Chi­nese em­ploy­ees of the en­vi­ron­ment they are work­ing in,” said Gan.

Lat­est sta­tis­tics from the China Na­tional Fur­ni­ture As­so­ci­a­tion showed that an­nual sales of fur­ni­ture prod­ucts in China reached 2.4 tril­lion yuan by the end of 2015. Of­fice fur­ni­ture ac­counted for 20 per­cent of the sales.

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