Human Resource Management in Thailand

HR Challenges

Business environments and consequently HR are now confronted with many more challenges than they faced in the past and these can include political conditions, economic changes, social changes, technology as well as other internal and external factors. 

Political Instability in Thailand and the rest of the world

Numerous factors of late have threatened world peace and these include terrorism, political unrest, wars and the development of nuclear bombs.  Thailand on the other hand has been affected by the 1997 Asian crisis with the devaluation of its currency the Thai Baht, the Bird and Swine flu epidemics in addition to internal conflicts which commenced in 2005 and came to a crescendo with the 2006 coup. The coup left the country volatile with internal conflicts between various sides and factions which are continuing. One must not forget the separatist issues in Southern Thailand which have also led to a significant number of deaths and which continue. From being a relatively unsophisticated country in the early 1990s, Thailand has developed into a more sophisticated Kingdom with changes to the legal environment causing Thailand to follow practices adopted by the rest of the world with respect to employment opportunities which are now benefiting employees.

Slow Economy

Following the world financial crisis which led to the demise of Lehman and Bear Stearns and many other financial institutions worldwide, economic growth fell in 2009 when compared to 2008 with less exports and the lack of finance becoming available.

Where it should have been reasonable to expect accelerated growth between the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010, Thailand again became subjected to internal political conflict which culminated in a number of deaths within the greater metropolitan area of Bangkok.

Notwithstanding this, there has been some economic growth in 2010 as well as an increase in merger and acquisition activity and the stock market has boomed becoming the second most active and successful one globally at present. Of course the merger and acquisition activity can bring employees closer together as their roles will become extremely demanding before, during and after such activity.

It is also fundamental that any downsizing or terminations of members of the workforce should be managed professionally, ethically and sympathetically.

Social Challenges facing Thailand

The instability facing Thailand since 2005 which puts far more pressure on the Thai workforce means that employees have been expected to work harder and within an environment that is far more pressurised with often less finance to support it.  Notwithstanding this, the cost of living has gone up and there also have been some natural disasters such as floods and the avian flu crisis causing the Thai workforce morale to be low.

It would appear that, fraud and corruption has also escalated as a result of the economic recession as a number of people look for a quick fix to assist the performance of their organisations. This factor is not solely a Thai problem but with the financial meltdown it has become more apparent in a number of other countries particularly in the US. It is important accordingly that a corporate social responsibility is instilled in the Thai workforce so that these types of breaches in future will be counter measured.

Other challenges include the fact that the workforce is not getting any younger which of course causes concern to organisations recruiting generation X employees to succeed the senior positions of  baby boomers who are now gradually retiring. This can cause many challenges to employers having the mix of baby boomers, generation X and generation Y who have vastly different ideas, concepts and motivations. It is also important for employers to take note of the better educated workforce that now exists and HR must provide sound policies and strategies in order to attract, develop and retain better educated employees who expect far more sophisticated treatment and incentives than the baby boomers of the past.

Technology Change

Digital media has become an effective tool for a company to increase its competitiveness in the market. It also speeds up the business process and improves the overall performance of a company. The Internet, for example, has changed the way of communication and helps reduce costs on recruitment, manpower planning, and training.

Proactive HR people should have a broad knowledge and skills to cooperate with senior managers to create and implement an effective HR strategy. Therefore, HR should be considered as an interdisciplinary field to provide expertise support for overall business operations. As a result, HR should be seen as a strategic business partner and a reliable problem-solving expert.

Source: Roongrerngsuke, Siriyupa. Best HR Practices in Thailand.  Bangkok: Nation News Network, Co. Ltd. 2010.