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first_img Comments are closed. asia pacific and australasia Well-padded expats Some expats still receive hardship allowances from their employers, as wellas perks for a comfortable lifestyle such as larger houses and school fees for thosewith children. Single men and women should drive a hard bargain for equalbenefits, writes Ed Peters One of the best-selling humorous books in Asia at present is HardshipPosting, a collection of true anecdotes about expatriate life in the Far East.The book draws its title from a contributor in Bangkok who took his boss fromLondon on an evening out on the town After dining extremely well, they moved onto some of the more lively bars where the carousing didn’t stop until the earlyhours. Finally bidding his boss farewell, the executive suddenly remembered animportant point he had not mentioned during the previous day’s businessdiscussion, “By the way, I forgot to talk to you about increasing thehardship allowance,” he breezed. It may sound incredible but it is nevertheless strictly true that someexpats in the upper echelons of Asian business circles still qualify for whatis, in name at least, a hardship allowance, even those living in modern citiessuch as Hong Kong or Singapore. While it supposedly compensates for the loss of home comforts, anybodydrawing it is going to be enjoying a reasonably comfortable lifestyle in thefirst place. A typical package for a well-placed financier, for example, wouldinclude housing, probably in an apartment block with pool and gym attached,furnishing of the housing, one or more club memberships, tickets home two orthree times a year, travelling in business class at the very least, generousno-serious-questions-asked expense accounts and maybe even local taxes pre-paidinto the bargain. Add to this an even larger house and school fees taken care of if the expathappens to be married with children. Which means single men and women should beable to drive a fairly hard bargain themselves when it comes to negotiatingtheir package, if the shortlist includes other candidates who come with spouse andchildren attached. Once the expat is in place, HR departments usually make every effort to keephim or her happy. Confronted with an outsize bouquet of flowers on moving intoher flat in Hong Kong, a newly arrived executive for Marks & Spencer rangup the HR director to ask what she had done to deserve them. Reading betweenthe lines of the answer, basically the company had spent such a lot of moneyinstalling her, the price of three-dozen roses was a drop in the ocean. Of course, it is not solely expats who are being tempted with well-paddedpackages, although their benefits do have a corresponding effect on local payand conditions. Generally, the larger corporations in Asia Pacific tend to go for a”catch-them-young” strategy, aiming to talent spot at an early ageand draw them into a corporate family. “We concentrate very much on graduate recruitment,” says LyannaChan of PricewaterhouseCoopers in Hong Kong. “In general we have anacceptance rate of 80 per cent and we have training programmes in place to helpstaff with their professional exams. As a result, our pass rate is double theaverage in Hong Kong.” Once the golden handshake has been proffered, most companies also seek todelicately affix a set of golden handcuffs to capitalise on their investment inpersonnel. “We make sure we pay a premium to top performers, and the very best ofthem are rewarded with a partnership, while we also structure pay to make ittax efficient,” says Chan. PricewaterhouseCoopers also allows its staff flexible working hours,providing extra support at unduly busy times so employees can strike anappropriate balance between home and office. More recently, some employees havealso qualified for education allowances. While some employees will always be tempted to jump ship when better pay andconditions are offered, there is a tendency in Asia Pacific to stick with acompany you know. Malcolm Leung, an American passport holder of Chinese descent, who hasworked in HR in Thailand, the Philippines and Hong Kong, notes that in generalrewarding workers in the region generously keeps staff wastage to a minimum. “There was a time in Hong Kong when everybody would move on the momentthey got their year-end bonus – it was like the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party as theyall shifted round a place,” he said. “Then companies got smart andstarted paying better wages over the whole year, rather than dangling a lumpsum at the end. Another major factor is that Asians respond very well toteambuilding, and if everyone in the company is enjoying similar benefits, bethey cash bonuses or other perks, then there is a marked reluctance to leaveunless there’s a really good reason.” While expatriates in Asia Pacific continue to enjoy some of the bestremuneration, they are an increasingly rare breed. The future is likely to seemore graduates from the region climbing up the ladder, trained and assisted bythe company which talent-spotted them fresh out of college. Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article wellOn 1 May 2002 in Personnel Todaylast_img

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