Startup Hiring in Thailand – What You Need To Know

Thailand is a hotbed for startup companies thanks to a growing economy and an excellent standard of living.

Whether you're a one-man band or an MNC expanding into Thailand, hiring the first few members of your team is crucial to your success. Startup hiring in Thailand can be hard when competing with established players so here's a short guide to building your hiring confidence.

Building a Startup Team

Hiring is undoubtedly one of the hardest parts of the process in a startup and tends to be where a lot of startups go wrong. Because founders are often inexperienced at hiring,  your job can be made a lot easier if you know the right attributes to look for in a person. We would say that these are the 3 most important qualities to look for in a candidate: 

  1. Entrepreneurial: A great potential candidate is someone who dismisses working in a large traditional organization, someone who thrives on constant change and someone full of ideas. Adaptability will be a main essential attribute for a potential candidate. 
  2. Flexible: Ability to work outside their "box" is an important attribute. Your new hires may need to assume a multi-hat role for you first, simply due to the nature of a start-up. Business processes have not been properly established yet, the team is growing and there may gaps that the new hire needs to fill. The last thing you need is an employee who is only interested in sticking to the responsibilities listed in their job description. 
  3. Enthusiastic: Surround yourself with positive people who relish coming into work every morning. You need people on board who are enthusiastic enough about what they're doing to disagree with you. This is a great way to enhance and build business processes in a constructive way. 

Who should your startup hire first? 

Sales or business development people are the most popular choice from our experience. Your sales team will be critical in winning new business and forging relationships with clients during the early stages. Not to mention that they are the key to making the business money!

If you plan to hire foreigners, then it's important to hire a Thai admin employee to help handle visas, work permits, tax reports etc. This needs to be a local hire as much governmental documentation is written in the Thai language.

Once the business is established, you should look into hiring HR and accounting staff. You can outsource these roles at the beginning, but once you get busier you will probably need to hire an in-house team. 

Here are some important points that you should be considering when you start the hiring process for the first time: 

The Interview Process

Hiring the wrong person can be costly. It's good practice to establish an interview process to ensure you're making the right hiring decisions. It's time-consuming to find a replacement and costly if the employee is liable for a severance payment.

Rather than hiring a candidate after a conversation at a coffee shop, invite the candidate back for several interviews.

The candidate should meet all of the business partners and the team before the hiring decision is made. Everyone has different personalities and opinions, so you need to make sure the new hire will work well together with your entire team. 

Pull factors 

Whilst pay shouldn't be the main priority for new staff, having an attractive comp package will help when it comes to attracting talent to your team. This doesn't only have to mean paying higher salaries. You could look at offering other benefits as well. A popular thing for startups in Thailand to do is to extend the number of annual leave days. In Thailand, an employee is legally entitled to a minimum of 6 days per year. You could say this is relatively low compared to a number of other countries. You could choose to offer 10-15 days' annual leave, for example, as a pull factor for joining. 

Be mindful of culture 

Whether the business is a startup or a multinational, having a great company culture is one the key influencers of talent retention. With such a diverse and booming job market, there's no shortage of talent in Thailand.  

When you find that superstar candidate, make sure that you foster a culture to motivate and stimulate them. If you're a tech startup, you may want to encourage a casual work environment and actively promote independent decision-making. It's all about creating an environment where freedom and autonomy are used to foster creativity. Gone are the old days of a stifling, bureaucratic management style.  You can read more about how to motivate staff loyalty in Thailand here

Have a great onboarding process 

It's important to support new hires once they start working. There's no rule book for a startup and every day will be different. But it's your job as a leader to make sure you fully support the team where they need it, and that they're armed to go into battle. 

The onboarding process could consist of these simple initiatives: 

  • Induction day - Take one day out to introduce the new hire to the team and show them how to work basic office processes. This lets the new hire settle into the company properly, rather than being thrown in the deep end on their first day.  
  • Training  - We can't stress this enough! Training needs to ongoing rather than just at the beginning. Your new hire needs to adapt and mold his/her mindset to align with the company culture. As a startup, you should be focusing on enabling leadership and entrepreneurial spirit. Your early team will be key in shaping who you are as a business

Be aware of employment laws 

Red tape can be harrowing during the startup stage, especially if you are unfamiliar with Thai employment law. But trust us: make sure you're fully clued up. You don't want to cut any corners here. It pays to know your obligations, and there are serious penalties if you run into any employee-employer disputes. 

Before you start the hiring process, it's worth consulting a lawyer just to go over the ins and outs of Thailand Labour Law. Some key points to consider are:

Seek advice

Finally, if you are still struggling, get some help!

We are recruitment experts that specialize in the Thai market, so we can be a great resource to tap into when it comes to hiring for your startup.

At Smart Search, we offer two main services, Recruitment and Outsourcing

We are a generalist recruitment agency, but one thing all our consultants have in common is that we're used to working with startups. We operate on a contingency basis, so we don't charge a fee until after the employee has been placed and has started working. The fee is based on a percentage of the annual salary. 

Startups sometimes need assistance when it comes to setting up the company in Thailand. We offer staff and payroll outsourcing services to help you out in the interim whilst the company is in the process of being registered.  Whilst an employee is under your direction and supervision, they're legally an employee of Smart Search Recruitment. We charge a monthly fee for this service. 

Whether you want to delve further into an issue we covered here, or just reach out for a chat, we're here anytime you want to get in touch.