Making Your First Hire in HK

Michael MicheliniBlog, Corporate, HR and Legal0 Comments

Looking to setup your Hong Kong company and find a good local Hong Kong staff to build up the business? Not sure what you need to submit to do that, or if it is even legal?

Today we’ll dig into the logic of hiring staff in Hong Kong, legally, and how to keep your company compliant and ahead of the curve!

Business In Hong Kong Is On The Ground

While for the most part Global From Asia has talked about running a Hong Kong company from your laptop anywhere in the world, there are more uses. If you do want to get local business done here, it is a great opportunity.

Such a dense population with a high consumer spending rate. English is prevalent everywhere and you can get “by” without learning local Cantonese.

Yet if you want to set up shop here and get things done, you will need a local Hong Kong person to help you. Not legally, you can own the company 100% as a non local – but to get local operations done.

What type of work can they help with, let’s take a look at some common roles

Local Sales Staff

If you’re setting up a retail location in Hong Kong and want to target local Cantonese customers, you’ll need someone that speaks the language.

While the majority of Hong Kong people speak English, they almost always will prefer to speak in their native tongue of Cantonese. Having the sales staff there to field customer questions and follow up on leads is essential.

Sure, you may think you’re not opening a retail shop, but even in an office setting – will you have customers visiting or calling? Unless you have no interest to target the local market, you should have at least one person in the sales team who can speak the local language.

Personal Assistant and Operations

Sales team is great, always good to get customers in the door and cash flow. Yet you need someone who is alongside you in the business. But not only the language, but understands how local business works. There will be certain licenses you will need to apply for and bargaining with landlords and other “on the ground” business that is best done in Cantonese language.

Such tasks can include help in your personal matters that a busy business owner and executive would have. Such things as keeping an eye on your calendar, scheduling appointments, fielding incoming phone calls, these are the basics. The tougher stuff is interfacing with various licensing and government departments.

Logistics & Shipping

Hong Kong is a global shipping hub. And it is ingrained in the local people from school and most of their professional life. If you’re dealing with e-commerce or import and export businesses, then having a local Hong Kong person to help you with being the “quarterback”. They will check status of your supply chain can help ease a ton of your headaches.

Some of the example tasks would be chasing down the Chinese supplier to ensure the order is on time and the shipping is on track. Once the shipment leaves the factory, you may prefer to book your own shipping company instead of using the factory’s agent. A Hong Kong shipping expert will have a lot of resources for you and can help to find the right solution.

While it is on the water, prepare the shipment to be received at your port of destination. They can also be the point of contact with your warehouse or fulfillment center. This role will be a lot of communication, which leads to my next benefit of hiring a Hong Kong team member for local business.

Many in Hong Kong Are Tri-Lingual

It is a dynamic place, Hong Kong. Being at the crossroads of China and the West, the people have embraced 3 languages – Cantonese, English, and Mandarin. I still am pretty limited in my Mandarin, stuck mostly to English for business so I cannot imagine how someone would be able to speak 3 languages fluently.

Yet you can often find staff qualified to handle all 3 languages. And this is quite amazing. You can then leverage the true power of Hong Kong. That is: talking to Chinese factories and business owners. They will communicate to English speaking clients, and assisting with local Cantonese business matters.

Since we’re on this topic, the south province of Guangdong also has many trilingual people as well, as it is also a Cantonese speaking region. You can also try to find tri-lingual staff in Shenzhen or Guangzhou, but there are differences. Hong Kong culture is a lot different, and if the person grew up and educated in HK, then they will have a more Western mindset and connect more with your Western clients.

Hong Kong Government Loves You Hiring Locals!

A point worth including in this post is – if you want to make the Hong Kong government happy about your business, hire locals! Just like any government, they want to support their people and their taxpayers.

Many foreigners come here and want to hire people from their home country. Maybe this is because they know them more, or they want to deal with people they have relationships with. To properly hire non-Hong Kong people, you need to prove that you were not able to hire from the local talent pool.

So embrace hiring and training local Hong Kong people!

At least to start, having a group of local staff in your company will help you hire non-local people in the future.

Hiring Local Staff Helps Your Immigration Case

Want to move to Hong Kong and work towards getting a permanent residency? There are some hoops to go through in the application place. It is a highly sought after privilege, and the Immigration department will look at your business and see what you are contributing to the local economy.

A big KPI, as mentioned earlier, is getting local Hong Kong people placed in quality jobs. Is your company a high tech and growing business with a bright future? Is it in an industry that Hong Kong is looking to expand in? And is your company hiring local people in high position jobs?

Just some of the criteria, and of course we’ll never know the exact formula the government uses as it is always to their discretion.

So if your business hires locals, trains them, and provides them good jobs in good career paths, your immigration case should be a smooth one.

Can You Hire Even If You’re Not in Hong Kong?

A common question, that isn’t made too clear online – yes – you can hire employees to work for you in Hong Kong. The only requirement is a Hong Kong company, which we can help you with. Once you have a limited company, you can extend them an employment contract and provide them the benefits they need.

Simple as that.

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Tags: asia, business, china, corporate, entrepreneur, guide, hong kong

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