THE WHOLE PACK­AGE

Chi­nese born af­ter 1995 in­creas­ingly value non-wage ben­e­fits and com­pany cul­ture

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - FRONT PAGE - By Ka­trin Büchen­bacher

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.

Ris­ing ex­pec­ta­tions

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

Photo: VCG

Young Chi­nese job hun­ters ask for a com­pre­hen­sive ben­e­fits pack­age, such as an af­ter­noon tea break, when ac­cept­ing a new job.

Photo: VCG

As ed­u­cated Chi­nese ob­tain high­er­level de­grees, their salary and com­pany wel­fare ex­pec­ta­tions in­crease as well.

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