Seven highlights from ERC Asia Pacific 2016

Last week saw the Worldwide ERC host the Global Workforce Summit: Talent Mobility in APAC, in Shanghai China. Seven highlights from the ERC Asia Pacific 2016CWM’s Lisa Johnson, Global Practice Leader Consulting Services, was on the ground to capture the latest trends emerging from this popular event. Summarizing two days’ worth of great conference sessions and conversations with mobility peers isn't easy, but here are seven topics Lisa captured in her conference notebook:

Pollution in China

Making a comeback for the first time in several years is the return of hardship payments for inbound assignees into China's first tier cities due to poor air quality. This is coupled with the rise of outbound Chinese employees looking for healthy living locations for their families; companies are paying for air purification systems for families and clean air technology is a must for new corporate lease signings.

Local Plus packages in Asia

A one-size-fits-all Local Plus policy cannot include "pay your own taxes" across Asia. Singapore compared to Philippines compared to Australia would have a very different impact on the employee's pocket. Policies need to have a country-by-country matrix for certain elements; but Local Plus is still on the rise as a cost effective alternative to international assignee packages.


Transitioning an assignee to local after an assignment is almost impossible. For the assignee, the financial impact "feels like a heart attack". And for your employee who gained international experience for three years, a perceived pay decrease "feels like a demotion". Consider promoting the employee prior to the transition.

Global Thought Leader Panel

Lots of good ideas circulated around retaining talent. Here are a few:

  • Adaptability and openness-to-change traits don't always come by staying in the same role 
  • At Coca Cola the business leaders are the internal "talent brokers" 
  • For your top talent, don't wait until people are resigning, be proactive and look around the world for the talent in your organization; have a "heat map" of where your talent is
  • A one-size-fits-all approach to anything these days "means you are screwed"; be "bespoke" about your retention strategies
  • Leaders in China can't stay "pale" and "male" or your retention of local talent will suffer; young Chinese talent increasingly want to work for Alibaba and other hot Chinese owned companies 

Strategic Mobility partnerships

Keep the customer focus; if you don't have operational excellence, you can't talk about a strategic partnership.

Driving change

Sometimes all that people need is clarity in times of uncertainty; if no one is uncomfortable, you are not driving change. The "Unicycle Theory" is to keep your eyes up and on the horizon - if you look at your feet, in the here and now, you will fall off - you have to keep moving. And don't forget "the water cooler people" who control the conversation in your organization - engage the end user early on in a change initiative; a great quote from the closing speaker "it is amazing what you can get done when you don't care who gets credit"

New vocabulary

I have a two new favorite words to use in the coming days. "Netizens" are citizens of the Internet according to China Daily newspaper; and "Halfpat" is being used around Shanghai for the new lower tier assignees moving into China - joining the Local Plus, Expat Lite category