Sitting as a recent panelist at a Seminar: China's Generation Y - Retaining Young Talent hosted by the British Chamber of Commerce Guangdong, it became apparent how much the workplace is changing/needs to change, in order to adapt to the needs, attitudes and aspirations of the China workforce which is increasingly dominated by a Generation Y workforce.
China has undergone major changes since the economic reforms of the 1970s and Generation Y, comprised of those born roughly between 1983 and 1995, are now able to take advantage of relative economic freedom to earn money and further their careers. Attracting and retaining this young talent has become a real challenge for some companies as Gen’ Y tend to be associated with globalization and tagged as individualistic and wealth focused.
“Gen Y and the World of Work – A report into the workplace needs, attitudes and aspirations of Gen Y China”, recently undertaken by HAYS recruitment consultants, paints a picture of the young Chinese labour pool as quite different from their Gen Y counterparts in other parts of the world. They appear to put primary importance on creating personal wealth over and above other factors and are far more likely to want to start their own businesses than their international counterparts. The traditional hierarchical leadership model appears to be breaking down giving way to a more inclusive style, whereby a boss needs to motivate and inspire whilst showing integrity and fairness, in fact a friend rather than a director.
The panel discussion became focused on the changing office environment now required to meet the needs of this new workforce. Particular importance can now be attributed to the physical workplace, Chinese people aspire to work in pleasant, modern conditions. Whilst this is true for working people everywhere it appears particularly important in this market where Gen Y China desire to work in teams and in more flexible environments where the essential tools of social media can be embraced wholeheartedly.
This has key importance for workplace Architects and designers. We have been witnessing the move from Clients to develop more open office environments to facilitate the needs of their business. The following aspects are proving particularly important:·
Transparency and openness: Seeing fellow workers in the work place can encourage successful sharing of ideas. The removal of walls and cubicles or replacement with glass partitions can achieve this. Face to face desk arrangement can also assist whilst having the boss or line manager open to the working floor increased personal accessibility.
Flexible spaces: Accommodating multi-use spaces can enable adaptable and diverse usage of one space for differing needs. Using adjustable wall partitions for instance can achieve this whilst considering for the potential future adaptation of existing uses with minimal future capital costs.
China represents about 30% of the global workforce and with a declining population, estimated to shrink by 18% between now and 2030, retaining the best talent and becoming more productive with a limited talent pool is a key ongoing challenge for employers. Creating a spacious, attractive, healthy and enriching office environment appears more important than ever in both attracting and retaining young staff.
 National Bureau of Statistics
 National Bureau of Statistics