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Young workers switching jobs at quick rate
By Qu Zhi

STEVEN Ye tendered his resignation last week, giving one-month notice. Working as the assistant to the general manager of a state-owned enterprise, the 27-year-old has a secure job and a monthly net income of 8,000 yuan (US$1,298), after paying medical and pension insurance and housing funds.


His annual bonus is nearly three times his monthly pay. Yet he decided to quit even before landing a new job.

“My boss is an ambitious workaholic who stays late every evening. This is fine but the thing is she keeps texting, sending e-mails or even making calls to me about work late at night. You can’t imagine how annoying this is, especially after a long hectic day,” says Ye, looking tired and harassed.

Ye is among many young office workers considering changing jobs or already job hopping.

In a latest survey by the country’s leading recruitment portal zhaopin.com released last Monday, 54.6 percent of office workers in Shanghai indicated they may change jobs.

Workers were asked about their expectation of a year-end bonus, whether they are required to work overtime and whether they intend to job hob. The survey covered 28 cities in China.

Hangzhou ranked at the top in working overtime, with 72 percent of respondents in the capital city of Zhejiang Province saying they had to work overtime.

It was followed by Xi’an in Shaanxi Province (65 percent) and Wuhan (65 percent) in Hubei Province.

In addition, September to October has become the new peak period for switching jobs. People in China usually tend to resign around March since by then they have collected their year-end bonus. But the time has been gradually moving up, mainly because of diminishing expectations about the bonus.

The survey found 54.4 percent of the participants in Shanghai are unsure or very unsure if they can get a better year-end bonus this year. That result exactly mirrored the national average.

The recruitment website surveyed 1,248 local respondents. Among them, 10.9 percent said they had already resigned or landed a new job this year.

Nationwide, only 30 percent said they had no intention to seek a new job.

“The job market in China is immature,” says sociologist Yu Hai of Fudan University. “People quit so easily for money, bad mood, attitude of the boss ... Thus, employees are very unpredictable now and the companies dare not put too much expectation on them. They are cutting training and cultivation.”

In addition to salary and career development, Shanghai workers cited rank relationship and stress as other main reasons to change.

It was an e-mail that triggered Ye to leave his promising career.

On one Friday night after working until after 9pm two weeks in row, Ye got home at 11pm.


He opened a bottle of beer, lay on the couch and was going to enjoy a football game. Soon he got an e-mail alert. The mail from his boss was titled “plan for you next week.” It contained a long “to-do” list in an “imperative tone.”

“This was the moment I realized I don’t want to live like this anymore,” Ye tells Shanghai Daily. “My boss is a good person and she taught me many things. Still, regardless of all the good treatments and the social network I can expand, I need a life.”

“Young people are so different from the older generation and their values change,” says Yu, the sociologist. “They are more focused on their personal feelings instead of the collective interests of the company or society.”

Yu also says that young people with higher education tend to have more aspirations in their career development, with the job content taking a higher role than just having a stable and well-paid position.

“Many of my students resigned after working for two or three years and went abroad for further studies,” he says.

After graduating in financial management from the University of Nottingham in the UK, Cherry Hu, now 23, landed a job in the marketing department of a Shanghai-based logistics company.

Recently, she begged her father to allow her to get a new job.

“Work is boring,” she says. “All the work I do is routine, repeated every day without many challenges. From the minute I get up at 7am I tell myself it’s going to be another long day.”

She is typical of many young people just beginning to work, where money is not the top concern, lying behind self-value and ambition.

The survey also points out that it is important for employers to consider emotional well-being as a main factor to motivate their employees, as the post-1980s and post-1990s generations become the main force of the job market.

Those born after 1990 have the highest rate of intention to change jobs, at 55.4 percent compared with 47.3 percent for office workers born in the 1980s.


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