Staffing in Thailand: What should you bear in mind!

Why finding quality staff is such a challenge in Thailand

More than 40% of companies in Thailand lament the difficulties they have finding well trained and committed staff members. Foreign operated businesses are seeing an ever-increasing trend in Thailand, particularly among sales and middle management staff, of employees who switch companies at an almost annual rate, which is becoming a very real obstacle to their success.

In a conservative Asian style system of governance along the lines of “go, do what I tell you and then ask me what to do next”, it is not a huge issue if the people carrying out the tasks come and go frequently. Personal responsibility is in relatively low demand. Western management philosophies tend to provide more freedom to employees while also asking them to be accountable for the quality of their work. Loyalty and commitment to the company are absolute musts


The German-Thai recruitment agency SANET CREATING CAREERS has been helping companies find the right executives, middle managers and sales specialists for years, with 85% of all placements resulting in committed and long-standing staff members.


Alexander Alles, COO of the Sanet Group, lays out the keys to success:

  • Trial & Error”: Most recruitment agencies are focused mainly on the upholding of legal standards, operating agreements, social conditions for workers, labor laws and often even payroll issues.Their recruitment processes lack both the time as well as the necessary experience and training to provide a comprehensive evaluation for a reliable recruitment selection. So many end up feeling “trapped” in the local structure of governance and do not get a chance to double-check the suitability of the individual candidates.This then results in the employment of the trial and error method.
  • Recruitment agencies are all over the place; this is true. However, some HR managers seem to think these agencies should not charge anything at all. As the saying goes, “when it comes to staff recruitment, we need to save money at all costs”. Multiple agencies are given the task of filtering candidates for a single company. Only the agency whose candidate is chosen in the end round receives any kind of compensation at all, which is typically far from generous in its amount. The other agencies walk away with nothing.Of course, this method is not really much different from the trial and error method mentioned above. The agencies are neither capable of nor interested in anything more than simply sending over a pack of applications from their databases to the HR department with a post-it note saying: “pick which one you like best!”. And so they continue working for unreasonably low pay while delivering preselected candidates which have not been selected on any kind of professional or qualificational basis.  The situation is lose-lose: the agencies make no money and the client ends up choosing based on gut instinct.
  • The selection process: A professional approach is critical when searching for the right staff. A professional recruitment process starts with the client and the agency sitting down together so the agency can design a detailed job profile for the position to be filled.It is important that essential tasks and duties be described as clearly as possible. The same goes for any secondaries, as otherwise these could be a source of later dispute. Next come the required skills – in addition to training and experience, it is also helpful to list what kind of personality traits and soft skills you are looking for in your candidate. It is then the agency’s job to evaluate these qualities in each of the candidates to determine the most suitable candidate for a long-term working relationship.Thailand’s tight-knit familial society means that, for employers to find stable employees, it is not enough to be sure of their suitability for the job based on their professional and personal traits alone. Instead, one must also consider where they live, where they were born, what kind of circles they are involved in, as well as what motivates them.

    Finally, we need to get an idea in advance of the financial terms and benefits that will come with the position. If the recruiter cannot even discuss vague numbers with candidates to gauge their suitability on this front, then it is impossible to provide the client with any valid candidate recommendations.

  • Job attractiveness: Fair pay is a matter of finding the right balance. Pay too little, lose your workers, but pay too much, and you start losing sleep over every little thing that goes wrong. Employees themselves start to doubt the company if they feel they are being paid for more than what is being asked of them. This then has negative effects on their own productivity.

The question that should be at the forefront is whether the employee fits your team or not. People who get along with their colleagues are less likely to consider jumping ship. Those is work environments with people who “just aren’t their style” usually end up finding a more suitable environment.

Finally, it is important to explore the dreams and goals of the candidates. It is hard to develop loyalty and commitment when you have no personal goals to work towards of your own. If your goals somehow align with those of the company, however, then you will be motivated to work harder to achieve that goal.

The basis for establishing loyalty is rather simple: If someone is paid fairly, enjoys their colleagues, and feels their position will help them reach their personal goals and realize their dreams, then why would they ever choose to leave?

And now some good and bad news. The bad news (apparently) is, that a recruitment of this caliber costs money. The recruitment process costs roughly the equivalent of 2-3 months of the selected candidate’s monthly salary (including the performance-based fee).

The good news, however, is that this will still end up costing you much less than a poor staffing decision will. A trial period alone usually lasts at least 2-3 months or longer before a replacement can be found. Furthermore, during the time in which such incompetent employees are at your company, the low quality of their work and their incompetence might even start to rub off on some of the other members of your team!

So, it turns out that it is possible to find quality staff recruitment, even in Thailand. However, just like many things, you get what you pay for.