The post-90s generation is about to enter the workforce. what should they, and employers, expect?
In the past few years, I have been asked by dozens of media organizations why State-owned enterprises and local employers are so attractive to graduates. However, the latest ChinaHR-sponsored Best Employers List, an annual compilation of the most-desired employers among China’s new graduates, contained a different view.
The list, published last month, featured 18 multinational companies (MNCs), and shows an increasing tendency toward working for MNCs as their employment brands become more attractive compared with SOEs and Chinese companies.
Moreover, in the discussions started by job seekers on Internet chat rooms in China, foreign companies seem to attract the most attention. “Hasn’t the Philips interview started? I’m so anxious!” “Does anyone know about Unilever’s admission news?” The urgent questions come one by one, and there are signs of recovery for foreign companies in China – it seems that they tend to be the first goal of this year’s graduates.
Actually, according to my experience in career consulting, this type of change is inevitable. Young graduates seem to feel comfortable when foreign companies interview them. My company, RMG Selection, found that 90 percent of candidates choose to stay in the same type of company. That means people who work for a MNC prefer to have another MNC to be their next employer, while people working for an SOE job-hop to other SOEs as well. Only 10 percent will consider a change.
Why does this happen? Clearly the influence of company culture and philosophy is a major reason. As we know, foreign companies usually have a different culture and management style to more traditional Chinese companies.
The post-90s generation has grown up at a time when the social material condition is relatively rich. In particular, information availability, information technology and the Internet developed rapidly as the 21st century dawned. Those changes have deeply influenced the growth of the post-90s generation.
The Horizon Group recently released a survey about the psychology of this generation. The report showed that 26.3 percent of participators believed the biggest reason for success was “knowledge and ability”; the best features they liked were “talents” (49.5 percent) and “great effort” (29.4 percent). This group of people is said to emphasize individuality and self-actualization. As the survey said, 46.7 percent of respondents enjoy change in their lives and 43 percent of them like to be out of the ordinary. All those qualities fully match European corporate culture, which is often known for its diversification, inclusiveness, critical thinking, encouragement and openness.
What is diversification at the company level? It comes from a multifaceted culture and a comprehensive platform. Take one of our clients, a dental-product manufacturer KaVo-Sybron Dental China, which belongs to a US-owned Fortune 500 enterprise, Danaher Corporation. Their products, including all kinds of dental supplies and infection-control products, are sold in more than 100 countries all over the world.
Its personnel benefit from the company’s diversified platform. Most of KaVo-Sybron’s employees have a medical background. With a solid training system named DBS (Danaher Business System), the employees’ personal qualities are comprehensively developed in different ways, including technique, professional behaviors and creative thoughts. Each year, the Harvard Business School takes a case study from DBS.
Secondly, there is a well-designed rotation program that involves circulating employees between positions and locations. The company also maintains a good relationship with experts in the field, and employees can build up a very powerful network by participating in the salons that their employer holds dozens of times every year.
Another benefit of the diversification of company culture is inclusiveness. Many MNCs or Western companies try to understand the different characteristics of their employees and allow them to flourish. With a more inclusive corporate attitude, the company will take a very different and positive attitude toward making mistakes.
For example, in my company, we firmly believe that the only way to learn more is by making mistakes. Many people (particularly working in Western companies) believe that routinely punishing mistakes contributes to a poor culture, and instead try other approaches such as using mistakes as educational case studies. It’s worth mentioning that the discussion (and any judgment) of mistakes should be kept private, while praise for good work is public.
Should we say “good” all the time? Certainly not. People need to be critiqued, and the post-90s love it. In my experience, people in China are among the most receptive to positive criticism. According to the Horizon Group’s survey, many of the post-90s generation are frustrated and confused as they find a big disparity between practical work and their ideal job. It is therefore hard for them to concentrate on a job for a long time, and their job-hopping rate increases.
Here’s an example explaining how to act. A well-known pharmaceutical company came across a problem when it first hired a batch of graduates from the one-child generation. The company treated them very discreetly, because it was afraid the new employees would break down under pressure. Unfortunately, the new employees were found to be quite inefficient. A later survey by the company’s human-resources department found that direct criticism from their superiors was what these employees liked the most, as they believed a justified critique meant their employers cared about them.
On the other hand, we should also remember to encourage our employees. Motivation and praise promote innovation and maximize development among the post-90s. Increased positive responses let this generation understand that the enterprise accommodates them, and also increases their sense of accomplishment, pride and desire for further good performances.
Last but not least, an open attitude – a common feature of foreign companies in China – is quite precious and satisfying for employees. In my view, openness refers to three aspects. For the first one, the door to foreign companies is fairly open to everyone. Everyone can fully display his or her talent. In the office, it is unusual to refer to someone by their rank. You can surely call your boss by his or her name, and so can your colleagues. Also, many of the more progressive foreign companies have an ongoing, tailor-made training program for their staff.
Then there is the core spirit of company, which is taken as the most important thing to consider before choosing a job. Especially for those post-90s first stepping into the job market, the spirit of company decides their future career development. Once again, let’s take a look at KaVo-Sybron, which takes integrity, passion, innovation and excellence as its spirit. In this special business, integrity comes first, which attracts many graduates to the company. They’re quite people-oriented and insist on a “prior to do everything, you need firstly to be an upright person” principle. For the post-90s, who emphasize individuals and self-actualization, integrity is the most respected personal quality.
The third aspect is the performance-appraisal system. As long as you are really talented, your talents will not be neglected with this system. There are no “unspoken” rules in foreign companies. You are the chief determiner of your own performance, and of course a scientific evaluation method is also a powerful support. This is like the saying “You are your own master”.
This is regarded as the first year that the post-90s graduates will step into the workplace. If you are part of this group, how should you properly orient your career? First of all, you should find out what kind of role you wish to play on the big stage of labor. Then, you need to understand the various careers on offer to find the one that best suits you. My suggestion is that internships are quite a wise way to achieve this; there are various internship opportunities provided by foreign companies. Once you know yourself, and you know what your ideal job looks like, it’s inevitable that you will find a happy and successful workplace.
The author is the founder and managing director of RMG Selection, an international recruitment group. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
Read the whole article: http://europe.chinadaily.com.cn/epaper/2012-09/07/content_15742179.htm
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