Recruitment in Thailand – what is the HR Manager’s role?
The HR manager is a key position specifically for international companies investing in Thailand. He has vital responsibilities in the organization, but yet, Recruitment in Thailand is not necessarily always the HR’s strong point.
Many foreigners when investing in Thailand are keen to fill the position of Managing Director with a compatriot. In principle, this is right, particularly in the start-up phase. Cultural proximity to the local management helps to install smooth processes and sound management structures.
However, leadership is of the utmost importance for foreigners, especially in Thailand. Even if they believe this about themselves, they rarely find their way into the Thai way of thinking and working culture. High fluctuation due to (even accidentally) offended employees or merciless exploitation of the typical social attitude of the German work culture are often the result.
This is where CREATING CAREERS is convinced that the main challenge for the HR manager lies. He keeps the team together, explains the often somewhat unexpected reactions and habits of the foreign “farang” manager and balances out the situation. He also realizes whether employees are “telling stories” in order to achieve days of absence, special leave or advance payments in wages, or whether there are genuine exceptional situations to justify such a request.
The HR manager as the “Company Mother” in the company and the “Cultural Ambassador” between local and foreign colleagues. He makes sure that everything runs fairly. Filling this position is one of the first actions of every investor or takeover of a Thai company.
However: Only rarely is the HR manager also the correct bearer of responsibility for the recruitment in Thailand. It all starts with the recruitment process. Only seldom does the HR manager have the training, experience or time to thoroughly develop selection criteria for a job posting, to conduct a target-oriented pre-selection and to provide qualified recommendations to the management.
The governing principles tend to be “Try and Error” or “As long as they are cheap”. The jobs will be posted on a platform, totally unsuitable applications will (hopefully) be filtered out, and then a “Long List” of resumes will be presented to the responsible Head of Department.
Sometimes, a whole bunch of recruitment agencies are also engaged, which are only paid, and only lowly, if by chance one of the candidates is selected from the CVs sent out without competent evaluation.
To make it clear: Neither the HR manager nor the recruitment agency working at their own risk will have time for more than such a rough screening. These agencies, in turn, pay their “freelance” employees only if a candidate identified by such a telephone agent is placed.
In such selection processes, piecework is everywhere and mass comes before class. There is no incentive for quality. And even the Thai Boss seldom complains about his HR department when turnover is high. He takes fluctuation from experience as “God-given”.
Fluctuation is thus often seen as the lesser evil compared to an expensive recruitment process of a qualified agency, which however leads to loyal employees.
Our advice for HR and recruitment in Thailand: By all means, fill the position of HR manager right at the beginning with an outstanding person as a link to the foreign manned management. For Recruitment on the other hand, enter into a framework agreement with a Recruitment Agency that will present you with well pre-screened candidates at least from the Supervisor level onwards. And do not burden HR management with this if you do not want to overburden this department It pays off.