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Smart but Not Adaptive New Employees

Posted February. 03, 2007 03:42,   


A personnel manager of Samsung Group’s affiliate recently had an unusual experience. The experience that a new employee’s mother asked to speak with the personnel manager occurred when a new male employee with a master’s degree in engineering who stated, “I’ll only work hard if you choose me,” was appointed to a provincial office after the company training.

The mother came to the company with a medical certificate indicating that his son suffers from depression and said, “I cannot let my son work in a province.” However, the appointment was not cancelled, and the new employee quit the job after a short time.

The personnel manager sighed, saying, “It is no longer surprising when mothers come to us, considering the trend these days.”

“New employees do not seem to have paid attention to people around them and the current issues while taking credits and passing language tests to get into companies. Maybe that is why. I have received many complaints that I have chosen the wrong people for jobs such as those who cannot even adapt themselves to organizations.”

Korean businesses have been complaining for the past 10 years about universities’ education that lacks realism, saying, “New employees lack knowledge about their chosen major and also lack capabilities to speak foreign languages.” Accordingly, each university has been focusing on expanding students’ knowledge within their majors of study and developing their ability to speak foreign languages by establishing a compulsory system that does not allow students to graduate if their language ability does not reach a certain level.

However, companies who have recently hired employees have new concerns. Newcomers’ understanding of their major and their language capacity are excellent, but they are not very adaptive to organizations.

Experts analyzed that this trend came into being as new-generation officer workers, so-called the “0080 generation” who were born in or around 1980, grew up with computers and were admitted into universities around 2000, entered society and the business world.

Mr. Park (33), a four year-old salesperson at a pharmaceutical company found himself speechless at a question from a new employee when he was delivering a speech as an instructor at a workshop for new employees at the end of last year and stated, “You should make a contract even on Sundays if there are hospitals open on weekends.”

“You must be kidding, right?”

Last year, the company’s newcomers said from the first day without hesitation, “It is too hard. I will quit.” One-third of them quit after less than one year had passed.

The Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training conducted a study with personnel managers of 532 domestic companies such as Samsung, LG, SK and GS Group’s affiliates. Their research confirmed such complaints about new employees who seem to possess a “me-oriented” way of thinking.

A report exclusively obtained by Dong-A Ilbo showed that personnel managers pointed to three items that fail to reach 80 percent of expected levels among 10 occupational basic abilities of new employees who have graduated from university: an ability to logically address problems through comprehensive judgment (78 percent), the understanding of organizations (80 percent), and an ability to harmoniously manage relationship. Meanwhile, foreign language ability (95 percent) and ability to understand statistics, probability and charts (90 percent) nearly reached expected levels.

Experts analyzed that as the new-generation office workers were born during trends such as fast food and computers, grew up in economically affluent environments, entered university after the financial crisis and spent most of their campus life preparing for a job, they naturally became self-oriented. Furthermore, starting two or three years ago when this generation began to become employed and entered the society, they have conflicted with traditional corporate cultures and have sometimes caused serious discord between generations within companies.

Hwang Sang-min, a professor of psychology at Yonsei University, pointed out that for the new generation, a company is an unfamiliar world where they should follow their bosses’ instructions, lower their heads to customers, and that if companies ignore this issue, the generation gap within a company will become a bigger corporate issue.

Meanwhile, there is an expectation that the new-generation workers who are reasonable and practical, can bring positive changes to companies.

Lee Jae-yeol, a professor of sociology at Seoul National University, evaluated that the digital generation can better adapt to companies that emphasize individual performance and can contribute to strengthening companies’ competitiveness as they clearly express themselves and are open-minded.

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