For increasing numbers of young Chinese professionals, the first day back at work after the Lunar New Year holiday is the day they quit.
The number of new online job applicants and resumes on Zhaopin.com, a leading recruitment website, increased 36% year-on-year in the first week after the lunar New Year holiday, the company revealed recently. New job ads doubled.
The period after the Lunar New Year holiday, also known as Spring Festival, often sees Chinese workers on the move. With their annual bonus in their pocket, and the trip home to see family behind them, many young workers are looking for a change. But this year, the number looking for new opportunities was especially high.
“We have seen increasing job-hopping
after Spring Festival for the past few years, but I was still taken aback by this year’s huge increase,” said Benjamin Chen, public relations director for Zhaopin.
site 51job notes a similar trend. The number of job opportunities posted in the week after New Year reached 2.26 million, up 21.5% year-on-year, the company said in a recent report. The increase was caused partly by an increase in the number of companies advertising jobs online, and partly by workers quitting their jobs at the end of the holiday, according to the report.
A survey of service sector firms by the National Bureau of Statistics likewise shows many looking to hire new workers.
Daniel Zhu, a 27-year-old Beijing native working in his hometown for a state-owned electronics firm, is one of the young workers looking for a better deal. “Salary is a big concern for me and I need a job that pays more,” said Mr. Zhu, who makes about 4,000 yuan a month ($642). “Plus my department can’t provide good career development for me.”
“Some of my friends are also thinking about changing jobs now because they work for private companies that demand too much overtime work,” Mr. Zhu said.
An online survey by Zhaopin.com, which received more than 8,000 responses nation-wide, provided further details on why China’s young white-collar workers are so keen to move on.
Low salaries were the biggest concern for 62% of the respondents. Among respondents aged 23 to 25, 88% said they were dissatisfied with their current wage.
Overtime and a wide mismatch between low salaries and high housing costs were also grumbles. Two-thirds of respondents said they had to work at home after office hours, and 10% said they do roughly 30 hours of overtime a week. A full 95% of respondents said they felt they were under heavy pressure because of mortgages or rent.
Health and office pressure were also mentioned as reasons for job-hopping, with 92% of employees saying their health had suffered from overwork. More than half of respondents said they had been chewed out by their boss in the previous week, and 62% of that group said they considered changing jobs because of the criticism.
The survey also found that what is seen as a “good job” has changed. For the generation born in the 1970s, high salary and status is the key. For the generation born after 1980, work-life balance and respect in the office are also important.
Zhao Bin, a 28-year-old woman who earns 6,000 yuan a month working at a public relations company in Shanghai, said she waited until the Lunar New Year change her job. “My salary is OK for me. What made me want to change job is that PR work was just too stressful. I worked like crazy. So I want to find something comfortable, like being an English teacher in training schools.”
“Work life balance is a relatively new thing in China” said Max Price, a partner at Antal China, an international recruitment firm. “Salaries have increased over the last 5 years steadily and as salary increases slow down, the other attraction factors become more relevant.”