China’s Post-90s Workers: The Job-Hopping Generation
My 24-year-old Chinese friend Nana has just started her third job within a period of three years. She worked at a Beijing office, but soon got bored and then resigned.
Nana was very excited about becoming a henna tattoo artist in the capital’s lively Sanlitun area last year. But the henna tattoo business turned out to be too slow. She now works as a kindergarten teacher. Recently, she told me that she might quit soon: “It’s not really what I want in life.”
“8% of post-1990ers have four or more different jobs within a time frame of 3 years.”
Nana is not the only post-90s urban Chinese who often changes jobs. According to a recent study by the Mycos research institute (麦可思数据有限公司), the post-1990ers who graduated in 2011 on average have two different employers within a period of three years. The study also says that within three years, 8% has four or more different jobs. Only 38% worked for the same company within a 3-year-period.
The ‘Post-90s generation’ or the ‘Jiǔ líng hòu‘ (九零後, ’90-after’) is a generation in China, especially in urban areas, born between 1990-2000, although the Post-95s generation is generally also viewed as a specific generation with its own distinct characteristics.
The post-90s generation is often considered to be self-focused. They are generally viewed as bad team players who are much less concerned about hierarchical relations at the workplace than China’s older generations are.
They are also generally considered a confident generation that demands more from a job than just the right salary. They want a job to be interesting, offering room for personal development, and provide them with a suitable working environment.
A Chinese cartoon with post-70s generation (left) saying: “I work overtime.” The post-80s generation says: “I don’t work overtime!”. The post-90s generation (right) says: “I don’t work at all!”
As with all generational cohorts, the post-90s truly are a product of their time. They were the first generation born in a post-Mao (1976) and post-Tiananmen-protest (1989) era, and belong to the one-child-policy (1978) generation. They did not suffer from great hardships in the way their parents and grandparents did, and often grew up with much material wealth in a rapidly developing China.
“Quitting my job because the winter is too cold.”
Throughout the years, post-90s workers consistently attract the attention of Chinese media, often for writing unconventional resignation letters. Last year, one recently graduated male real estate agent reportedly quit his job because there were “too many women in the workplace”, which “negatively influenced” his personality.
Another resignation that went viral in late 2015 was that of a Hunan female office worker who wrote her employer that she was quitting her job because “winter is too cold”, making it “difficult to get out of bed in the morning”.
“For the working post-90s generation, personal fulfillment goes above anything else.”
Sina News published an article about the Mycos report, that is titled “Representations of Post-90s Generation in the Workplace” (“90后职场肖像”), on September 13.
In the article, Sina reiterates the study’s findings that for the working post-90s generation, personal fulfillment goes above anything else.
Sina News interviewed several urban post-90ers who recently quit their job.
MA graduate Zhang Yang had a good job at a state enterprise. Although his company paid him very well and often allowed him to travel abroad, he quit anyway. Why? Because the work was “too monotonous”. “If I would’ve continued doing this job,” Zhang said: “every day of the rest of my life would be the same until my retirement. That would be awful.”
Female law graduate Chen Tingting resigned from her job as a secretary in an office because she “could not get along” with her direct superior. The 24-year-old Zhang Bin had three different employers within one year. Not one time did he resign for salary-related reasons, he told Sina – all of them had to do with a “bad atmosphere” at the office, or not being on good terms with his colleagues.
“Why is the “post-90s” label used again?”
Not all netizens agree that job-hopping has to do with being part of the post-1990s generation per se, and that it is untrue this cohort quits their job “for every little problem”. The post-90s generation often is viewed as being selfish, rude, or only following their own dreams – and many post-90ers do not agree with this view.
“Why is the “post-90s” label used again?”, a 22-year-old netizen named @Lakin says: “Why don’t you write that companies nowadays squeeze out recent graduates? Why don’t you talk about the fact that there’s more and more superficial multi-level marketing trash companies? Why don’t you investigate how the flows of people are now so big that there’s even fraudulent companies? It’s because of those sh*theads that this topic even came about. I’ve already switched jobs 4 times!”
Another Weibo user agrees with @Lakin that it is more a problem of present-day companies than the post-90s attitude that there are so many people job-hopping: “There’s a reason for everything. Who likes to look for a job and go to interviews every day? If the company would be good, nobody would want to quit! You’re making the post-90s look bad.”
There are also many post-90s generation netizens who recognize themselves in the survey, and understand why many of their generation choose different jobs. “This is my second job, and every day I dread going to work. I feel like a robot, I feel numb,” one post-90s commenter says.
Another popular comment of a post-90s netizen says: “All in all, life is short. Relatively speaking, isn’t it important to be happy? We all have different situations, different living environments and mentalities. It is not worth the trouble to worry about how others see you. We have to be ourselves and do our own things. We can do our duties while enjoying our rights.”
“Who cares about the post-90s generation anyway?” one netizen wonders: “We are the post-00s generation, we are the future!”
跳槽 (Tiàocáo)- job-hopping
九零後 (Jiǔ líng hòu) – Post-90s generation
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