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Engaging the millennial workforce in China
China has come a long way to become the second-largest economy in the world. But it is still a relatively young and developing market, considered most of the MNCs started their operations in the country no more than 20 years ago. Driving this growth is a group of young professionals and executives, mostly between age 25-45.
Different from business professionals in other developed countries, employees’ benefits and promotion opportunities are no longer their top preferences as an ideal job. It means engaging and retaining young talent in China is a whole different ballgame.
Millennials have been making up a more significant portion of the workforce in China. The China Labour Statistical Yearbook 2017 shows employees aged 20 to 39 accounted for over 55% of the local urban labour force. It is significantly higher than the labour force of the same age group in Hong Kong (41%) and Singapore (40%). The millennial workforce grew up with technology integrated into their lives, enabling them to be digital-savvy and hold immense potential to help organisations thrive in this digital era.
Comparing labour force by age in China, Hong Kong and Singapore in 2017
employees in China1
labour force in Hong Kong2
labour force in Singapore3
|Aged 40 or above||42.7%||57.8%||58.8%|
The contribution of this generation, when satisfied with their jobs, goes beyond productivity. In addition to enabling business digitalisation, job satisfaction is also an essential factor in retaining talent. The 2018 Best Workplaces for Millennials Study suggested that satisfied millennial professionals are 59 times more likely to endorse the company, which is essential for the organisation to attract top talent. As more businesses in China are competing for young talent, it is vital to engage and retain millennial employees to stay competitive.
Millennials are putting more emphasis on their work environment. A joint-research conducted by China Economic Weekly, China Centre for Economic Research and 800HR5 shows a favourable working environment is the second most crucial factor to bring job satisfaction, just after an increase in salary. It was also rated as more important than employee benefits and promotion opportunities, which were traditionally highly rated.
The Smart Office Survey conducted by JOS China also found the definition of a favourable working environment varies among age groups. Almost 25% of respondents that aged between 25-45 prefer working in a smart environment, a higher percentage than those aged over 45 (15%). A smart environment refers to an automated adjustment of lighting, temperature, humidity and air quality, aiming to bring a more comfortable and healthy working condition. These findings indicate a favourable work environment is beneficial to the general workforce, but mainly for the millennials.
More businesses realise the importance to support the millennial workforce. They are turning towards different smart office technologies to bring a more favourable working condition to retain talents.
Smart environment drives productivity
A study from Shanghai Jiao Tong University found that the optimal indoor temperature for work is 24.8°C, where work efficiency can reach up to 104%. Conversely, JOS China’s study also shows that more than 90% of respondents find unpleasant air quality negatively affects their work efficiency.
More Chinese businesses are looking at smart HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems to create a more comfortable working condition. These systems integrate with sensors, which monitor the environmental conditions throughout the building, to make adjustments in temperature, air quality and light to the optimal level.
Besides, smart desk is another technology recognized among the millennial workforce. They found a regular change of workstations through the hot desk system a refreshing experience. Desks with adjustable height is also a preferred smart desk feature. By taking advantage of a smart HVAC system and smart desks, businesses can bring more flexibility and healthier work condition, which are critical for more efficient and productive workforce.
Smart conference facilities drive collaboration
Collaboration is fundamental to the success of a digital business, and conferencing facilities are the key enabler. But inefficient conference facilities causing issues like unstable conference system or conference room hogging can be frustrating.
With smart conference facilities, employees can confirm room reservations through a meeting management system. The system can also remotely turn on projectors or dial-in the calls ahead of the meeting for preparation.
These smart conference facilities are not only enabling efficient use of resources, but also driving collaboration and productivity.
Smart mobility brings work-life balance
A smart office is not only limited to hardware. Smart mobility is also an essential element that empowers the millennial workforce. A survey by American Express stated that 75% of millennial employees value a “flexible and fluid” work model7, which gives them a stronger sense of work-life balance.
Businesses can provide flexible work arrangements when more enterprise applications can be accessed through mobile phones. A flexible work schedule contributes to higher productivity, organizational performance and employee engagement, as suggested by the 2017 Deloitte Millennial Survey Report. Meanwhile, data and device protection are also essential element to enable smart mobility.
As more businesses in China have started their digital transformation journey, smart offices are going to become inevitable and widely adopted. JOS China reported 500% growth in its smart office customer base from 2018 to 2019.
With the rise of young and digital-savvy talents in China, businesses are investing in the seven core areas to inspire the millennial workforce and empower business growth. They are namely the smart environment, smart desk, smart conference facilities, smart mobility, smart security, smart network and smart multimedia system.
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