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Fear the Airpocalypse
Deadly Chinese Smog an HR Problem

Foreign firms are finding it exceedingly difficult to convince qualified candidates to work in China-based offices, according to a recent survey. The New York Times reports:

[S]urvey results released on Wednesday by the American Chamber of Commerce in China…found for the first time in the survey’s 17-year history that most companies were having greater troubles recruiting executives because of air pollution.

Concerns about pollution have been on the rise in recent years among foreigners and Chinese. In the survey, more than half of the respondents said pollution made it more difficult to recruit senior executives to work in China. The top problem for companies trying to attract or retain senior executives, however, was the expectation of being highly compensated for working in China.

Air pollution is a menace to China for a long list of reasons. The smog that chokes its many megacities kills, and costs the country billions in health problems, material damages, and premature deaths. It’s not a good look for a nation seeking to flourish in the developed world, as the reluctance of highly-sought employees to move there shows. In fact, firms have to pay a large “smog premium” to workers in order to convince them to live and work in Chinese cities.

Attracting top talent is as important for nations as it is for the firms who do business in them, so the fact that smog is scaring away China’s best and brightest and giving foreigners pause about relocating there should be of deep concern for Beijing.

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