Will job seekers be wary of working with Chinese companies?

Do job seekers share the same sentiments as Indian consumers ready to boycott Chinese products and brands?

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The Galwan Valley episode between India and China has rubbed the Indian consumers the wrong way. There is a lot of negative sentiment around Chinese products and brands. People are feeling patriotic by boycotting anything related to China.

According to a survey by LocalCircles, a whopping 87 per cent of 32,000 respondents, from across 235 districts in India, said that they are willing to boycott the purchase of all Chinese goods for the next one year.

HRKatha was keen to evaluate whether jobseekers also felt the same and carried negative sentiments around Chinese companies.

Rajesh Padmanabhan

“choosing to work with an Indian multinational over a Chinese multinational is a better option in the present scenario, if there are options available. If one is presented with a choice, it would be smart to exercise it in the right direction.”

The HRKatha team first contacted many of the Chinese companies in India to find out if they faced any such issue currently or were preparing for any such trend in the near future. The team had anticipated that the Chinese companies would deny the existence of any such trend or experience. However, many of the companies in India declined to comment on this.

HRKatha also reached out to a few job seekers to find out whether they were keen to join Chinese companies or refrain from doing so.

One such job seeker, who is currently out of a job – but had worked with one of the BIG 4s in the recent past – shared that she would be quite reluctant to apply to or join a Chinese company. She opines that it will not be the best decision to apply to these organisations, given the uncertainty revolving around them.

Ramesh Shankar S

“There are ongoing transformations in various industries and new jobs are being created. Therefore, instead of being insecure, people should be willing to change jobs, alter profiles and acquire new skills, thereby keeping themselves valuable in the market. Living in past glory will not let you survive.”

Many job seekers are worried about the fact that the deteriorating relationship between India and China will affect the business and existence of Chinese companies in India, and there will be a constant worry about job loss. That is why, they would like to play and land up a stable job on their next move. “Times are already very uncertain due to the pandemic, and by joining a Chinese company, we do not want to add yet another factor to that uncertainty,” says another job seeker.

The uncertainty has also increased after the Indian Home Ministry banned 59 Chinese apps on June 29, 2020, stating that the move is to protect India’s security and cyberspace.

What do HR folk think about this? Do they agree that Chinese companies have lost their shine as employers in India?

A senior HR leader, and now CEO of a business consulting firm, Talavvy, Rajesh Padmanabhan, agrees that there will be a little bit of caution at first.

However, he is also quick to add that if a job seeker doesn’t have any options in hand — which means that there will not be too much to choose from — then maybe it is better to grab any job offer and go with the flow.

With a very optimistic view, Padmanabhan explains, “Job seekers will not restrict themselves from applying for jobs in Chinese companies. Good jobs, good content and good experiences are still what employees are looking for.”

“Having said that, it also true that choosing to work with an Indian multinational over a Chinese multinational is a better option in the present scenario, if there are options available. If one is presented with a choice, it would be smart to exercise it in the right direction,” Padmanabhan adds.

Ramesh Shankar, former CHRO, Siemens, opines, “Uncertainty will always exist in the world. Today it is about Chinese brands, tomorrow there may be a different scuffle with some other origins. The fact is that we have to be ready to get new opportunities and lose them too, unlike in the past, when people started with one company and retired from there.”

The former CHRO of Cadila, Sunil Singh, feels that it is natural for the candidates to be worried about their future in Chinese companies amidst the ongoing uncertainty.

However, Singh also thinks, “Considering India’s economic status, the Government will not be in a position to fully de-couple the Indian and Chinese economies. Unless we are heading towards a full frontal confrontation with China, candidates can take a calculated risk. This may even turn out to be rewarding for candidates willing to take this risk.”

Is insecurity playing a big role?

Insecurity has definitely crept up after thousands of employees of one of the biggest platforms, TikTok, were laid off in the country. Several TikTokers were left in the lurch overnight, following the announcement of the ban.

As uncertain as things are right now, this incident has scaled up the fear among employees who have been sacked and are in search of jobs in renowned organisations.

For Padmanabhan, job security, as a hypothesis, doesn’t exist in today’s market. It can happen to any company today or tomorrow.

“The factors for insecurity are bigger than the role, and it comes from deep within. It is all about decision making, and to think that anybody is going to profoundly apply their head to think through and figure out whether they are going to have a long-term career is highly illogical.”

In the current context, he explains, “Looking for security in a job is anyway out of question. No company will harbour a bias against somebody who has been displaced from a highly successful company, such as TikTok.”

Another factor the CEO of Talavvy points out is that of indifference to the market. “When the supply is more than the demand, you are always in a situation in the marketplace, where both these factors need to be balanced. However, in today’s job market, you are bound to be a bit indifferent towards what comes your way. You are going to grab what is offered and not think twice about it.”

Sunil Singh

“Considering India’s economic status, the Government will not be in a position to fully de-couple the Indian and Chinese economies. Unless we are heading towards a full frontal confrontation with China, candidates can take a calculated risk. This may even turn out to be rewarding for candidates willing to take this risk.”

Similarly, Singh feels that risk and reward go hand in hand.

He agrees that there will be an impact, but nothing is going to vanish in a few years. “All the bans you have witnessed have been imposed on companies, which are app based and do not have a lot of manpower involved.”

Today’s employees do not like to stick to one organisation right through their career. They seek change, as changing jobs can help them grow faster in their career. Similarly, organisations also do not commit to giving you lifelong employment. The main reason for this is, rapid change in business models over the years.

In Shankar’s words, “There are ongoing transformations in various industries and new jobs are being created. Therefore, instead of being insecure, people should be willing to change jobs, alter profiles and acquire new skills, thereby keeping themselves valuable in the market. Living in past glory will not let you survive.”

If I was a job seeker today, Shankar concludes, “I would have looked at the possibilities and opportunities, irrespective of any company or origin.”

You have the option to look at life as being full of roadblocks or full of possibilities. These crises create multiple possibilities, but if you think all gates are going to be closed, then that is how you will look at life too.