Discontinued ColumnsRegular Features--The Yonsei Annals & Aon Hewitt
Do Not Judge a Job by Its CoverHow jobs differ in the views of college students and companies
Chung Dha-ra  |  dhara123@hanmail.net
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승인 2013.03.02  12:38:19
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THERE ARE many things that college students are concerned with. Good grades, tuition fees, and housing are a few examples. Nonetheless, the main concern for most college students is finding a suitable job. The ongoing economic turmoil has made things harder for students. Despite this hardship, students work hard to improve themselves in the hope that someday they will get their dream job. But one never asks, “What is a good job?” In order to get a job they want, however, students should understand the employer’s perspective.

What students think a good job is
   In a survey conducted by *The Yonsei Annals*, 37.1% of Yonseians chose “personal growth and development” as the most important element for a good job. According to an article on “Biztech” by Adrian Swinscoe, an independent business consultant said, “At the workplace, giving students the chance for personal growth to increase their capacity and capability allows students to take control of themselves.” This leads to the students being more motivated to improve their productivity and efficiency at work. For these reasons, many students wish to enhance their value and competitiveness to transfer to a better, more appealing job.
   19.5% of Yonseians chose “high welfare” as the most important element for a good job. As the Korean economy has developed, the quality of life in Korea has also been developing over the years. According to Daniel A. Wren, author of “Evolution of Management Thought,” people are attaining higher education levels, becoming more skilled, and thus more demanding. As a result, students do not want just high paychecks, but broader things like trust in leadership and pride in their work – and the key to making this approach successful is a sincere focus on the employee’s wellbeing.
Additionally, students are concerned about job stability. According to a survey of college students conducted by Trend Monitor*, around 30% regard job stability as the most important element for a good job. Job stability became significant due to the continuing economic hardship. News of layoffs and pink slips are reported every day. Such instability has raised a sense of anxiety about job security amongst students who are starting their search to find a job.
*Sample size: 400, date: 2011-2012

How the Best are differentiated
   According to Aon Hewitt’s “Best Employer” study, there are four differentiating characteristics that “best employers” share. The first is called “High Employee Engagement.” Companies with this characteristic have employees who are interested and involved in workplace issues. These employees speak positively about their work and they tend to stay with the organization. They also feel motivated to exert extra effort to meet business goals.
   “Compelling Employer Brand” is the next one. This values whether or not the organization is well known and has a good reputation in the market. It also ensures that people joining the company experience what they had imagined before recruitment. Employees can also feel proud of being a part of the organization.
   The third major characteristic is “Effective Leadership.” Senior leaders provide a clear vision and the employees trust that their management’s decision-making and expertise will drive the company to success. Employees also feel like they are wanted and needed by the company and think that their senior leaders communicate openly and honestly.
“High Performance Culture” is chosen as the last of the Best’s characteristics. Employees share in the overall success of the organization through recognition and rewards. The company also prepares for future challenges by offering excellent career and learning opportunities to employees.

What Makes the Best?
   On Feb. 15, Aon Hewitt announced the 2013 selection of Best Employers in Korea. The selected companies have had exceptionally good results in all of the named criteria. KT, Hyundai Oilbank, and JW Marriott Hotel Seoul (JW Marriott) are some of the top ten companies selected as Best Employers. These companies have successfully been able to satisfy the employee’s wants and needs, make them committed to their work, and then raised their engagement level on company issues, which thus increases the employee’s effectiveness overall.
   

   
 

Song Tae-ho (Team Leader, Communications Office, Corporate Culture Innovation Dept., KT) stressed the importance of creating an atmosphere where the employees can feel a sense of belonging which would help the employees actively engage in company issues. In order to do this, there has to be a high level of communication within the company.
   A high level of communication between the employees and management is necessary for a company to work effectively. KT has established a “virtual desktop interface” and created applications which allow employees to keep in touch with their associates “anywhere, anytime, with any device.” Also, from time to time, the company CEO has a live discussion session with the employees. They are allowed the chance to talk directly with the CEO. “Our company culture enables employees to ask delicate questions to the CEO,” says Han Min-suk (Manager, Communications Office, Corporate Culture Innovation Dept., KT). “They find it more reassuring to see the CEO answer these kinds of questions directly.”
   KT provides employees with several programs, namely the “Smart Working” and the “Talent Market” Programs. The “Smart Working” system allows employees to adjust their working method based on their personal life. For example, employees are allowed flexibly to change their working hours and also to work remotely from their home, or anywhere else. The “Talent Market” system allows qualified employees to change the department in which they work every couple of years. Many workers may feel uncomfortable with the department that they are assigned to in the traditional workplace environment. KT allows employees to find the department that fits their aptitude through the “Talent Market,” however, which helps raise employees’ engagement level.
   Yonseians also value the importance of communication. When asked what they consider the most important factor in a job, communication had the second highest amount of votes. Students believe that in a workplace where communication is easy and frequent, they would be able to share their opinion better and become happier, ultimately becoming a better asset to the company. Min Seon-jeong (Manager, Communications Office, Corporate Culture Innovation Dept., KT) says that, “communication helps ensure that the employee’s presence does not go unseen within the company.”
   

   
 

Hyundai Oilbank also puts a high emphasis on establishing an environment where employees can feel engaged. They underscore the need to raise a proper amount of competitiveness within the workplace, however, to help employees feel challenged while appropriately rewarding them for their efforts. Therefore, Aon Hewitt’s “High Performance Culture” can be understood as the key concept for Hyundai Oilbank. For example, employees are encouraged to get engaged in company projects, to work and show their commitment to the company’s cause. In addition, Hyundai Oilbank uses the relative evaluation method to evaluate their employees’ work efficiency. A key component in this evaluation method is the diamond distribution model. This system ranks the employees from top to bottom but with a bias towards the middle, instead of the bottom, as seen in a pyramid model. The pyramid model ranks more employees in the lower grade, which adds pressure and frustration for the employees, lowering their engagement level. On the other hand, the diamond model helps the average employees to feel less pressure from work evaluation, while motivating them to strive for a higher performance.
   Hyundai Oilbank promotes employees based only on results, which shows that all employees are on the same line. Promoted employees are then given a special three month holiday, where the employees would have time to rest while preparing for their new responsibilities. This can be seen as an example of a maximized reward system. There are also various benefits apart from vacations given to prime talents of the company.
   On the other hand, 6.3% of Yonseians consider fair allocation of outcome as the most important element for a good job. Students preparing to enter the job market would expect an unfair reward distribution, as their position for the first few years will be at the bottom of the company’s hierarchy. It is necessary for employees to establish and prove their value to the company, however. Kong Byung-min (Manager, Management Support HRM Team, Hyundai Oilbank) says that although it takes a long time for new employees to make an impact on a company, they will understand how important and useful a fair allocation of outcome can be to their overall quality of life after employees find their place in their workplace.
   

   
 

JW Marriott takes pride in their HR department as the root of their employees’ high engagement level. “Just by looking at the fact that people transfer jobs mainly due to social conflicts within work, shows how important organizational culture is for a company,” says Lee Dong-Joo (Personnel Administrator, JW Marriott Hotel Seoul). Lee says that a company’s culture and the HR go together to help enhance employees’ engagement level. According to Aon Hewitt’s study, these kinds of performances are considered as “Effective Leadership”. JW Marriott considers trust between the employees and the company as an important element. Furthermore, the leadership is willing to share company data with the employees to gain the trust of the employees. As such, the employees are able to express their full trust in the leadership by following their business strategy and decision-making. “There are comprehensive ‘gains’ like rewards and pay,” said Lee. “But I think long-term ‘gains’ such as trust and respect between the employees and the management is what makes a good job the best job.”
   When Yonseians were asked to rank the importance of certain elements for a good company, “Responsibility and Trust” was ranked 1st. In order to form trust in a relationship between the employees and the management, a good communication system needs to be established. An astounding 81.9% of Yonseians consider maintaining a friendly relationship with their co-workers as an important element for a successful job. In addition, employees want to feel like they are part of something. They want to know what is going on within the company, so that they can feel a sense of belonging to the group. They consider a trustful company one that shares its secrets with the workers as well as taking responsibility and protecting them in times of need.

*                *               *

   There are a lot of things to consider when choosing a job. The above three companies are just the tip of the iceberg. Students should reflect on how they perceive a good job and take this chance to think more about what they really want. There is much more to a job than just pay or welfare. It would be best for college students to understand that and then start working towards a brighter future.

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