THE WHOLE PACKAGE
Chinese born after 1995 increasingly value non-wage benefits and company culture
The youngest generation of China’s job seekers asks for a free gym membership and an afternoon tea break rather than a higher wage, an article by Chinese online news site Qilu Evening
News reported earlier this month. The article went viral on Chinese microblog
Sina Weibo, creating its own hasthag: #Job seekers
born after 95 don't care about salary.
“As living conditions are relatively favorable, ‘high salary' is not their only reference standard,” the article explained.
Tang Muye, who studies English at the Communication University of China, confirms this trend. The young woman doesn't know yet what jobs she is going to apply for after graduation, but her expectations on her future employer's benefits package are high.
“I will pay quite a lot of attention to the work perks a company has to offer when applying. Employee benefits can give us a relaxing working environment, in which I can perform even better. This is vital,” Tang told Metropolitan.
Her friend Wen Cheng, a medicine student, gets more specific about the type of benefits she considers top notch. “The best perk a company in Beijing could offer me is housing, and of course, a local household registration card (hukou),” she said.
According to a report by the Chinese Ministry of Education quoted by Chinese business news the 21st Century Business Herald on Sunday, the number of college graduates will hit an all-time record in 2019 at 8.34 million. The students expect their salary to be over 8,431 yuan ($1,220) on the national average, and in Beijing, the higher salary expectations are almost 13,000 yuan a month. The students still focus on salary wages when looking for their first job after graduation, but it's no longer their only concern.
“When the salary is high, I expect the benefits to be adequate as well,” Wen said.
According to the report by the Ministry of Education, 25.7 percent of all graduates plan to work in the IT industry, a sector known both for high salary and extensive work benefits.
Chen Zhou works in HR at a large international tech company in Beijing. Among the benefits her company offers their employees are more paid annual leave and sick leave than required by law, flexible working hours and working methods, as well as paid overtime, team building activities, travel, professional skills training, and more.
“Today's young people are no longer focused on the satisfaction that comes with earning higher salaries. When choosing a job opportunity, company welfare also can serve as an important reference basis,” Chen explained. “Young people care about whether the company organizes a big party for Chinese New Year and whether the atmosphere at work and the company culture is great or not,” she added.
The HR professional doesn't think this is an unreasonable request by job seekers. Since employees will spend “most of their time” in the company, it is particularly important to choose a working environment that is suitable for them.
“Work perks can serve as the recognition and affirmation of the employees' ability and value,” she said
In addition, a comfortable working environment with additional non-wage benefits can bind employees to the company and reduce turnover.
For a young programmer in Beijing surnamed Wang, the work perks of his company have prevented him from applying elsewhere, even though there have been times when there were few projects his department was working on.
“We have a free gym membership, afternoon tea every Friday, a place to play table soccer in the office and table tennis,” he said. Wang likes that the company reimburses up to 100 yuan per day for dinner when he works overtime and organizes frequent outings with the team. During the last annual Chinese New Year Party, he won an iPad.
“The working environment and company culture are as equally important to me as the paycheck,” he said.
While the expectations for employee benefits increase among the young people with a college degree born after 1995, the older and less educated demographic still make the majority of China's population. For them, the regular paycheck is what counts most.
According to the Beijing Population Blue Book released on Sunday as quoted by the Business Herald on Monday, the proportion of people with a college education and above has increased from 33 percent in 2010 to 37 percent in 2017. In general, nearly 40 percent of Beijing's population has received education from universities, of which nearly one-fifth have received education from undergraduate programs and nearly 5 percent have received education from postgraduate programs.
Nearly one in five people has a bachelor's degree in education, which is much higher than the national average.
Cash still counts
Chen Ziwen, an 18-year-old personal fitness trainer, is satisfied with his current job, even though there are no employee benefits.
“State-owned companies are known for having great benefits, but of course, you need to have matching qualifications,” he said.
His friend Wang Hanyun, a 19-year-old teaching assistant, thinks that workload is more important than company benefits. The young employee works from Thursday to Sunday and does part-time jobs on the other days to make some extra cash.
“I appreciate the flexibility and that I can arrange my time freely,” he said.
In addition to young people without a college degree, older workers also consider employee benefits to be less important.
Yao Hong, an IT engineer in his 40s currently on the job hunt, prefers company stock options and cash rewards. He also values a solid company culture and a satisfying work-life balance.
“If the company has more benefits, it shows that they do not have the resources to pay a competitive salary, so they use other ways to attract employees,” Yao said.
Lin Luwen contributed to this article
Young Chinese job hunters ask for a comprehensive benefits package, such as an afternoon tea break, when accepting a new job.
As educated Chinese obtain higherlevel degrees, their salary and company welfare expectations increase as well.