Employee Motivation – A Lost Art in China…

Futurama Poster - You're not paid to think


For those of you who complain about how your employer treats you, for those of you who complain about your overtime, or days off or holiday pay.    Try working in China…

I have worked in China for over a year now and I can see they have a long way to go in taking care of their workers’ mental state.  The motto “A happy worker, works harder”  is totally lost on the average  Chinese business man.

I recently told you all that my laptop that  I brought from the USA was stolen from my desk at the school early one morning.   Although, my laptop looked a bit older than the recent ones.. I had upgraded the inside to perform like a dream.

When my laptop was stolen during the working hours of the school.  I was not happy.   Especially, since I was the only one that had something stolen.. and the cameras at the school were turn off to save money.  (kind of makes a security system useless doesn’t it?) …with the added fact that there were only two employees on duty that morning .. the cleaning lady, and the receptionist… gave a thief the perfect situation to steal whatever he wanted… however, he only wanted my laptop.

When called into my superior’s office to be informed of the theft..I promptly asked what is to be done about this situation.  He told me .. not to worry, they would replace my laptop.

This I found reasonable.. since I did use it for work, and it was stolen from their office, that lacked security.

However… I was thinking in the American way.. not the Chinese way… evidently…

After a couple of days, I questioned the boss about when my laptop replacement would be arriving. I was told that the school did not have the money to replace my laptop at this time.  (I felt this was unbelievable.. and most likely not the truth) … When I arrived home that evening ..I was told my by husband that my boss had called him… and told him that they wanted me to be patient and wait a week for him to take care of this problem.  (I felt strange that he had called my husband and not told me..however .. this is also “Chinese Way”.)

After waiting two weeks with no answer or reparation .. I questioned my boss  about what was going on with my replacement laptop.   I was told that it would be taken care of this week. 

Again, a phone call was given to my husband to inform him that .. the school had tried to extract money from the cleaning lady and the receptionist to pay for my laptop replacement.   (yeah .. i know) .. however .. the cleaning lady quit and refused to pay.. and the receptionist also refused to pay…(a young girl.. had her father come to the school and speak to the boss) ...

Still no laptop replacement for me…. by now I was very upset… pissed would be a better word. I quickly informed my superior of my disappointment in his delay of resolving this problem.   Of course, a phone call was promptly giving to my husband .. informing him that the school was will willing to give me an old laptop they had lying around, and a little money to compensate for my loss. 

I found this unacceptable…. I am his most experienced foreign teacher, have given up my personal time to help the school over and over again, have worked 6 days a week 10 hour days for over a year without one day of calling in sick or a vacation, have done my best to promote the school and recruit new students to attend and this is what they offer me in return???

I was at a loss for words… it would be different if the laptop they had to replace was 8000 rmb to 20,000 rmb .. but to replace this laptop.. the cost is only 4000 rmb. ($570).. a small amount in any country.  However, I am told that the school is only willing to pay less than half. 

Does this seem fair?  Does this seem right?   At some point in time an employer has to think… Is it worth it?…. Does the cost  out weigh the benefit?

Is it worth losing your relationship with your top employees..just to save a small amount of money?  Wouldn’t it be easier to just buy the new laptop and have a happy employee .. that feels good about their employer and will work even harder?   Is the upper management to blind to see that without your good employees .. you have no good business?

This  gave me reason to research the treatment of employees in China by other companies… and unfortunately… when I asked people what do they think about their boss or their company… they were all disappointed.   No one felt they were treated fairly, no one thought their boss cared about them, no one really wanted to be at their job.. but they felt they had no choice.  They complain about everything from salary, verbal abuse, to being overworked….. No wonder self-esteem, and moral is so low in China.

When asked does your employer praise you when you have high sales, or do something good for the company… all gave a resounding NO… and told me that was the “Chinese way”

Wow… I feel China has a long way to go… when it comes to employer/employee relations… It makes me long for the days in the USA when we had two days off a week, and paid holidays and vacations.. and the worse thing  was that we had to work over time… for time and a half-pay.. or didn’t get a Christmas bonus.

Somethings in China I can learn to accept… but somethings.. really need to be changed… and I think it should start with learning that your employees are more than just your workers… they are people too…

until next time…



2 thoughts on “Employee Motivation – A Lost Art in China…

  1. margotmarrakesh

    It would be really interesting to talk to some BOSSES about the same situation. A boss (even at another company) might be able to give some insight into the boss’ point-of-view, what is CAUSING them to behave/think this way.

    1. Some of my students are bosses and own factories.. and they seem to feel that it is the norm… that the workers understand.. i really think that is the norm.. and no one says anything about it.

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