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China’s millennials do not want to follow 996 rule - working 09:00 am to 09:00 pm SIX days a week

May 15, 2018 6:57 PM

J. Paul Getty believed “The employer generally gets the employees he deserves.” But this may not be true for most of the Chinese Employers who are used to following decades-old rule of 996. Where your day starts at 09:00 am and ends at 09:00 pm for 6 days a week. The millennials who constitute the majority of young professionals in China are in no mood to work around the clock and get caught in the strenuous working hours taking a tool on their physical health, killing their social circle and quite often giving rise to a sense of withdrawal from the society one belongs to and is dependent on for psychological support and personal well being. The generation of China’s millennial’s wants to break free from this decade-old rule of 996.

Why is the young generation of China demanding this change and will it have any impact on China’s unstoppable growth story? These are few questions which need to be addressed if we are to understand why millennials are demanding this change. Let us do some fact check.

The generation of millennials is the first in contemporary Chinese history that does not feel the need to think about survival questions like, “How is my family going to make the ends meet?” This generation is more concerned about asking, “what are my personal desires and what do I wish to pursue myself in the long run? With 90% of Chinese millennials owning a Smartphone and with adequate awareness of global culture, this is the curious generation who wants to explore new opportunities. It is a huge and defining force that cannot be ignored; because it is this generation that will establish the meaning of being Chinese in present-day China. China has approximately 400 million millennials, whereas the United States of America has 80 million only, and most of them are not older than 36 years. It indeed is a transformational force and the Chinese employers will definitely have to consider their requests if they need a steady stream of willing and performing workforce that is the major force behind China's booming economy.

One more aspect that cannot be ignored and is largely responsible for making this young generation think the way it is thinking today. They belong to the era of China’s one-child policy and most of them fall into the category of “only children” of their parents. As a result, they grew in the lap of luxury with nothing to worry about. It is this very protective social makeup and adequate financial support from their respective families which makes them different from the older generations who enjoyed fewer facilities. Almost no pampering and worked really long hours to support their families while fulfilling their personal needs. As only children, millennials enjoy a lot of support from their families offering them financial security and as result making them unwilling to push the limits! It is this generation of young people, especially the post-90s generation, who are unwilling to work overtime and prefer self-comfort and personal priorities over any other rule pushing them to divert from what they believe to be normal.

American and European societies are facing similar employment tendencies among their generation of millennials. Generation Y believes in self-employment with an intense sense of self and job-related freedom. It strongly believes in giving back to the society and is more forbearing towards diversity. Millennials believe in immediate outputs. A Millennial is not likely to stay with the same job for more than 3 to 4 years. Generation Y believes in changing jobs and in achieving his/her professional milestones at any cost. This at times may translate into hasty decisions, for one single reason, “their strong desire for creating a perfect balance between professional, personal and family life.”

In China, the younger generation is no longer willing to put in long hours for an insufficient paycheck and feels it is being underpaid and exploited for profiting the select few. It is not only about the hours, it is also about the pay. Millennials in China are more aware of their rights, have access to the internet and smartphones and possess a much refined and well-founded global perspective, unlike its older generation. These attributes make this generation very unique and probably the reason why they are seeing the rule 996 as exploitative and suffocating – in theory, a 996 work timetable is illegal in China. Given the current beliefs and mental state of China’s young workforce, there is a pressing need for well defined and government approved compensation schemes which would make the younger and well-educated workforce of China feel sufficiently remunerated for its services.

Important fact based on BBC’s article on the similar topic:
“As a low-level employee at an e-commerce site, Li was tasked with posting descriptions of toys and backpacks. He was even expected to work on Sundays, when he’d reply to questions from customers from Australia, Europe or the US from home. For that, Li received a salary of 3,500 yuan a month, or about $560 (£406). That’s less than half of the monthly rental cost of a one-bedroom apartment outside the city center, and so he’s sharing a small apartment with three flatmates.”

And what is most worrying and being largely ignored, is the fact that generation Y will very soon be replaced by a much more informed, well educated Generation Z. Generation Z is even more freedom loving and does not believe in any kind of rulebook which restricts it from expressing its beliefs. With Generation Z it is more about the environment, freedom of expression, work values and the ability to work from anywhere and anytime. Now, if they are asked to work in accordance with 996 rule, they will definitely revolt and not comply with any such employment guidelines. Only because they have been raised in a different way, more luxurious lifestyle with constant exposure to internet and Smartphones right from the childhood, they are quite alien to hardships of real life.

Nevertheless, it shall be decided in due course of time who changes how much - employer and the employee. And striking a perfect balance may not be easy but it is not impossible either. Only that all parties; employer, employee and the government involved in this transition need to be aware of one simple fact, “Governing a great nation is like cooking a small fish - too much handling will spoil it - Lao Tzu

If you are interested in knowing more about Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z and their impact on the job market, please explore this link:

Keeping these new employment tendencies of the future workforce in mind,  HireHere is already evolving a unique platform that allows Generation Y and Generation Z to work from  anywhere and anytime, while respecting their personal and professional preferences.