A Taiwanese friend told me that she planned to work until the end of the month, finish the cases she was working on and then resign. I was very surprised to hear that. She was talented and good at her job, so I wondered why she did not want to stay.
I heard that she wanted to go abroad for at least one month to travel and hone her skills, but her employer would not give her that much time off work, so she decided to quit her job and make a new start at a different workplace after her vacation.
While reasonable from my friend’s point of view, her resignation represents a great loss of human resources for her employer.
Such a thing would be very unusual in Germany, where employers value skilled employees very highly, and labor relations are founded on long-term partnership.
If, after a six-month trial period, your employer feels that you are an asset, they offer attractive conditions to retain you. This means that talented employees are willing to stay with the company, where they are undoubtedly priceless to the firm.
German employers do not necessarily like young people, but when it comes to those who have shown themselves to be good workers, they are willing to offer favorable conditions, including reasonable vacations, to make sure that they are willing to stay.
That explains why German employers offer generous maternity leave and an average of 30 days vacation a year.
When Germans ask for time off, they usually get it, because their bosses are willing and employers are not allowed to offer money instead of time off.
Of course these favorable conditions were won through decades of bargaining between workers and their employers, and Germany also has dedicated labor courts that provide substantial safeguards for workers’ rights and interests.
Apart from the long-term efforts that have gone into establishing these conditions, they also show the importance that employers attach to ensuring that their workers remain in the service of the company.
In Taiwan, employees often come and go, even quitting their jobs just because they cannot get time off work, so that employers often need to look for replacement staff. This represents a bigger loss for employers than they would incur from giving people time off.
German workers get as many as 43 days’ vacation a year, including national holidays and statutory leave days. If every day off were such a great loss for employers, surely the German economy would have stalled long ago.
German employers and entrepreneurs are not careless spenders. What matters is that they notice and appreciate their skilled and talented employees.
With worker-friendly conditions in place, it is less common for skilled and talented workers to move from one employer to another. It is common for German engineers to stay with a company for 15 or 20 years.
Only if a company can retain its talent will it have the human resources needed to conduct research and development and keep improving its products and services.
Taiwan has plenty of highly talented people, as can be seen from the fact that it ranks No. 1 in invention exhibitions around the world. In this age of globalization and headhunting, Taiwanese companies should look beyond their narrow immediate interests.
If Taiwan lacks good corporate environments and systems, and if employers fail to spot and value outstanding employees and give full play to their talents, it can only result in the brain drain that Taiwan is suffering.
Liou Uie-liang is a former president of the Taiwan Association in Germany.
Translated by Julian Clegg
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