We often think that Asians are very conservative in their thinking, that they cling to traditional values. However, according to a Steelcase WorkSpace Futures Whitepaper, there are six changes in the expectations of the Chinese employees. They no longer focus on tradition alone, but they now use it to their advantage, combining it with modern values in new ways. Check out the six changes below!
From harmony to identity:
Harmony was always the key word in Chinese tradition. And it is until today. What has changed is that people are no longer only a part of the collective, they are now individuals who are part of the collective. While in the past life was about fitting into the group with everybody following their assigned roles, people now express their identities by adapting it it to the values of the group. Chinese co-workers now accept it when others express their personal interests and do their best to integrate it into the work of the group, in turn creating a harmonic environment.
From team-work to collaboration:
The first point and the second are closely interrelated. To understand that, let’s look at how Andrew Campbell sees the differences between team-work and collaboration. While teams are deliberately designed, have a clearly defined leader and goal, collaborators could even be strangers or competitors with conflicting interests. In the past these conflicting interests were ignored – they were seen as a threat to harmony. Today the mindset has shifted. Debate is no longer seen as conflict, but rather as something that enables groups to make decisions in which everybody’s opinion is heard and valued. With that it is not something that disturbs harmony, but rather something that creates a shared point of view.
Job security to growth:
As said before, the mindset is shifting away from predestined roles, towards a belief that everybody can create a future for themselves. With that, young people nowadays seize opportunities and see the opportunity to grow as one of the most important factors when choosing a job. Because of that, companies which want to attract the best talent need to offer constant training, fast-track career opportunities for good performers, an inclusive culture and transparency in terms of internal job opportunities.
From worker to explorer:
In addition to their hunger for growth, Chinese employees also want to be able to make meaningful contributions to their companies. In the past they might have been happy with a monotone factory job – it was their destined role, after all. But not so today. Today, they are looking for challenges. As the Grant Thornton International Business Report says, 85% of Asian leaders value creativity, and they want to use this creativity to support their company in solving complex problems. Seeing these statistics, the question whether or not Chines people value self-actualization is for debate once more. While many critics thought that self-actualization is not something people from collectivist societies strive for, these statistics might be indicators that suggest otherwise.
From work & life to working & living:
Simply said: working is not the most important thing anymore. People from previous generations could not expect something like work-life balance. People today can – and they do. Work hard, play hard, the slogan best known among the Japanese, now gains popularity in China as well. But even more important is that with the introduction of cafe spaces, billiard tables, and relaxation areas, the office now can become a place where work and private life come together. Employers should utilize this opportunity. Co-workers becoming friends only has advantages for a company as it allows for informal information sharing – something that leads to better communication across functions and more innovation for everyone. Yeah!