A step-by-step approach is required for Cambodian candidates – Chisato Oyanagi

CDL HR boasts more than 20,000 registered personnel and about 800 companies trading with them, working by the motto, “to be appreciated and loved”.
Ms. Chisato Oyanagi works as a career consultant at CDL HR, we interviewed her regarding Cambodia's current employment situation and the new temporary employee placement project. (Interviewed at: September, 2017)

Interviewee Profile

Chisato Oyanagi : Manager of CDL HR .

The retention rate of HR projects in Cambodia is low

Could you tell us if there are any characteristics of Japanese job seekers and companies that recruit such personnel?

As a characteristic of Japanese employed locally, there are many who are hoping for employment here with prior visits or connections such as volunteer work in the country. In the recent years, I think that there are many who already work in Asia and is considering employment in Cambodia, because the visa is relatively easy to get here comparing with some other South east Asian countries.

There are also many Japanese start-up companies. I often hear people wanting to hire Japanese people for launching new business or expanding projects. Because of this, they need human resources who are work-ready. For large enterprises, they usually have their own overseas representatives, so candidates looking for a career in such an environment may find it hard to find employment. Personnel who can develop and expand projects on their own or who can actively work with the manager, young people who are fully motivated are the candidates who are popular amongst companies who are offering recruitment.


What are the characteristic of the Cambodian candidates?

For Cambodian job seekers, it is common for them to have experience in changing jobs through agencies, or are using agencies with the purpose to get a raise in salary. In terms of age, most of them are in their twenties and thirties.
I feel that the recognition of the HR agencies in Cambodia is still low. Although it has penetrated in the central part such as Phnom Penh, it cannot be seen in the provinces. I think that recruitment in the provinces is still based on acquaintance or family.


Understand the problems that candidates face

What do you emphasize most when connecting candidates and companies offering recruitment? Please also tell us about problems unique to Cambodia that occur between candidates and recruiters.

In the case of Japanese candidates, they may have experience working in Japan but there are many cases that they have no prior experience of being in Cambodia. So, we share as much information as we can so there are no misunderstandings or regrets, especially delicate information such as salary, insurance and allowance that candidates are eager to know about.

Also, since many of the Japanese companies are start-ups, there are many cases where they work in small teams. Therefore, relationships with people in the workplace can be an important element to continue working. If we cannot meet the candidate in person prior to the interview, we set up a skype interview, so we can check whether they understand the company color, to minimize the gaps after joining the company.

In the case of Cambodian candidates and Japanese companies, the original environment and culture differ so much, so there is always going to be a gap in values towards work. Cambodians often feel uneasy, dissatisfied but keep it to them self. Because of this, we regularly follow up after employment, so we can detect any problems or current situation of employment so that we can stop them from considering another move, we think this is our duty as a broker.

The reason why Cambodians want to quit their job is often trivial. For example, it may be a few days of irregular overtime, they get the idea that such situations may continue, and this could be a trigger in them quitting. To prevent such issues, just by reassuring them that the overtime is temporary and work schedule will be back to normal after a few days, their anxiety is minimized. For Japanese employees, it is usually enough to follow up with basic communication but for Cambodian employees, you will need to give extra care and consideration, so they do not feel insecure.


What are the issues of Cambodian talent you face working in HR?

Overall, I feel that the basic learning ability is low. Even when there is a problem, they do not take the extra step to try to solve the problem. They can think of the cause, but they are not able to think towards solving the problems. This is thought to be due to education in Cambodia and insufficient experience accompanying the high turnover rate.


A gap between the skills required by the companies and the skills that candidates hold

What can you do to solve such issues and improve human resources?

In Cambodia, I feel that there is a big gap in the character that the company desires and the skills that Cambodians have. Therefore, it is necessary for the company to grasp the skills of Cambodian personnel and reconsider the conditions of recruitment.

Many Japanese companies set language abilities as a precondition, but even if they are proficient in a language, there are many cases where other skills are insufficient. It is important to consider overall abilities other than language skills thinking of reality after hiring them.

It is also necessary to inform them of the benefits of long-term commitment. To give them a better idea, it is also necessary to conduct career education at universities and schools. This is something that cannot be solved immediately, and we need to take time and effort for steady improvement.


What can a company do for improvement?

Education is an important factor for improving human resources. Therefore, companies should try their best to cultivate talent. But the reality can be difficult unless long term commitment is promised because this could be time and cost consuming. Therefore, I think that it is necessary to prepare an environment where employees can consult in a friendly environment.

As mentioned earlier, Cambodians often have complaints and concerns that they keep to themselves. I feel that there is always issues on both ends when employees decide to leave work. It is important for the company to be attractive to employees, and is best to create an environment where employees can feel secure enough to speak their minds, for management to listen without denial. Just by improvements in this, they may choose to work longer than you expected. We believe that creating such environment leads to long-term commitment and result in improving their basic skills too. It is necessary to take it step by step and appointing tasks with responsibilities, so they can grow with the company.


Cambodians will not respond if you impose the Japanese way of thinking

What are the important things to understand when working with Cambodian people?

I think it is necessary to understand Cambodian culture, way of thinking, and remember that Cambodia is still in the process of development. Cambodians will not respond if you impose the Japanese way of thinking, they will gradually move away from the company if you have such an attitude.

There are some Cambodians who are interested in work and center their life based on work, but you should remember that most Cambodians put families first and work to cherish their time with family. As a recruitment company, start-up companies sometimes come to us for advice on how to work together with Cambodians, there are many things that happen which is unthinkable with Japanese standards, but is understandable when you think of the Cambodian culture and environment. I try to give frank advice with my experience of working with Cambodians.


Temporary employee placement project launched to hire difficult talent

Your company is also engaged in temporary employee placement, could you tell us about your service?

Basically, it is the same as the temporary employee placement service that you find in Japan. In Cambodia, work environment has no diversity. In Japan, there are many forms of temporary work other than full-time employment, but Cambodia does not have such employment form. Therefore, I think that there are many Cambodians who do not understand the temporary employee placement services.

It is hard to gather workers who are not educated, no language or work skills. Such workers are often required for short term promotion activities by companies. Workers under those conditions find it hard to find employment but companies have a hard time gathering them because of the time and cost and management that it involves. We have acquired workers under that category in our temporary employee placement services.

Our temporary employee placement service is popular from our clients, but we hope to expand business so that the Cambodian workers feel the merit of working out of an agency too. We support our registered workers by giving them insurance and hosting events such as lunch clubs, so they feel comfortable working with us long term. In the future, we would like to increase client companies and temporary workers so that the range of choice will be wider for both parties.


What role do you want to play in the HR industry? Could you also tell us about your future business development?

We want to aim to be the No. 1 Japanese HR company in Cambodia. We would like to continue to strengthen the services to enhance our reputation of reliable follow-up and great talent stock.

Follow-up with candidates and employers are another factor. We would like to support our talent, so they will slowly adapt to long-term commitment in their career.
Promoting the temporary employee placement service is also important to us. We would like to set up a scheme where Cambodians who have worked in family-run businesses are able to get employment as temporary workers in diverse work environment.

    • CDL HR
    • Description of Business : Employment Agency