Well-padded expats

first_img Comments are closed. Someexpats still receive hardship allowances from their employers, as well as perksfor 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 PetersOneof the best-selling humorous books in Asia at present is Hardship Posting, acollection of true anecdotes about expatriate life in the Far East. The bookdraws its title from a contributor in Bangkok who took his boss from London onan evening out on the town After dining extremely well, they moved on to someof the more lively bars where the carousing didn’t stop until the early hours.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.Itmay sound incredible but it is nevertheless strictly true that some expats inthe upper echelons of Asian business circles still qualify for what is, in nameat least, a hardship allowance, even those living in modern cities such as HongKong or Singapore. Whileit supposedly compensates for the loss of home comforts, anybody drawing it isgoing to be enjoying a reasonably comfortable lifestyle in the first place. Atypical package for a well-placed financier, for example, would includehousing, probably in an apartment block with pool and gym attached, furnishingof the housing, one or more club memberships, tickets home two or three times ayear, travelling in business class at the very least, generousno-serious-questions-asked expense accounts and maybe even local taxes pre-paidinto the bargain. Addto this an even larger house and school fees taken care of if the expat happensto be married with children. Which means single men and women should be able todrive a fairly hard bargain themselves when it comes to negotiating their package,if the shortlist includes other candidates who come with spouse and childrenattached.Oncethe expat is in place, HR departments usually make every effort to keep him orher happy. Confronted with an outsize bouquet of flowers on moving into herflat in Hong Kong, a newly arrived executive for Marks & Spencer rang upthe HR director to ask what she had done to deserve them. Reading between thelines 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. Ofcourse, 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.”Weconcentrate very much on graduate recruitment,” says Lyanna Chan ofPricewaterhouseCoopers in Hong Kong. “In general we have an acceptancerate of 80 per cent and we have training programmes in place to help staff withtheir professional exams. As a result, our pass rate is double the average inHong Kong.”Oncethe golden handshake has been proffered, most companies also seek to delicatelyaffix a set of golden handcuffs to capitalise on their investment in personnel.”Wemake sure we pay a premium to top performers, and the very best of them arerewarded with a partnership, while we also structure pay to make it taxefficient,” says Chan.PricewaterhouseCoopersalso allows its staff flexible working hours, providing extra support at undulybusy times so employees can strike an appropriate balance between home andoffice. More recently, some employees have also qualified for educationallowances.Whilesome 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.MalcolmLeung, an American passport holder of Chinese descent, who has worked in HR inThailand, the Philippines and Hong Kong, notes that in general rewardingworkers in the region generously keeps staff wastage to a minimum.”Therewas a time in Hong Kong when everybody would move on the moment they got theiryear-end bonus – it was like the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party as they all shiftedround a place,” he said. “Then companies got smart and started payingbetter wages over the whole year, rather than dangling a lump sum at the end.Another major factor is that Asians respond very well to teambuilding, and ifeveryone in the company is enjoying similar benefits, be they cash bonuses orother perks, then there is a marked reluctance to leave unless there’s a reallygood reason.”Whileexpatriates in Asia Pacific continue to enjoy some of the best remuneration,they are an increasingly rare breed. The future is likely to see more graduatesfrom the region climbing up the ladder, trained and assisted by the companywhich talent-spotted them fresh out of college.Furtherinformationwww.towersperrin.comwww.deloittetouche.comwww.wmmercer.com Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Well-padded expatsOn 1 Dec 2001 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more