How to raise workplace productivity in China

Motivators and differentiators

  • Share

Money remains the biggest source of motivation for Chinese workers.

What motivates Chinese workers?

When asked to identify their three biggest motivators in the workplace, 44 percent of respondents in China chose monetary compensation. By contrast, in Australia, monetary compensation came in at only third place, with more employees identifying the work that they do and work-life balance as being more important.

In a work culture where overtime is routine, the second biggest motivator was work-life balance (38%), followed by career development and progression opportunities (35%). Effective utilization of my skills (25%) and the work that I do (23%) were also important.

EY - What motivates Chinese workers
Respondents were asked to chose three factors that motivate them most.

Interestingly, “the work that I do” featured as a much less important motivational factor compared with Australia and Korea, where it was ranked first and second respectively.

What makes productive workplaces different?

What constitutes good management is of course hard to define and often contingent on the firm’s environment. Having said that, three organizational characteristics appear to differentiate productive workplaces from their lagging counterparts.

1. Efficient operational processes

“Super achievers” are more likely to work in companies with efficient operations, where “operating processes are well thought out with minimal manual intervention” and where “clear reporting lines are in place to support effective communication.”

Organizations of all types can do more in this area, by undertaking not just traditional process improvement activities but embracing the wider digitalization agenda which has the potential to transform workplace efficiency.

2. Effective performance management

Companies’ ability to monitor performance and act on information collected was a key differentiator.

“Super achievers” said their organizations could deal effectively with underperforming business units. By contrast, “lost souls” told us that their feedback was not valued and that performance appraisals were not conducted in a fair and systematic way in their organizations.

Again, the implications for companies are clear in terms of reviewing and enhancing their performance management frameworks.

3. Aligned and relevant incentives

The subject of incentives received the greatest amount of attention overall.

“Super achievers” said that financial and non-financial rewards got the best performance from staff and helped to retain the most productive employees. They were more likely to say that high performers could rise rapidly in their organizations, while “lost souls” were likely to say the opposite was true.

Less productive workers were also more likely to say that there were no real consequences for underperforming employees – that underperformers were neither fixed nor fired.