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Koreans’ Motivation to Work

Koreans’ Motivation to Work

CHOI Sook-Hee

June 11, 2008


Welcome to our Video Program. I’m Sook-Hee Choi from the Public Policy Research Department.

Job-switching is rampant today with the percentage of new workers who quit within a short time growing every year. This is a genuine matter for concern, given the huge costs incurred by businesses to recruit and train new workers.

To prevent new workers from quitting early, P&G has introduced a new employment system differentiated by job type. Based on its understanding that young workers prefer interesting work, P&G has attempted to minimize the disparity between aptitude and work content by presenting them with a clear description of tasks they will undertake from the beginning.

Florida-based power firm CHELCO is running a career coach system that is designed to promote understanding of the work orientations and aptitude of employees through dialogue, enabling them to improve their work capabilities.

As seen above, global companies are increasingly reflecting on the importance of work orientations in the process of personnel and organization management. “Work orientations” refer to the attitude and thinking of employees. Work orientations are inseparable from job satisfaction, commitment, the acquisition of talent, and the retirement rate.

Today, we’ll take a close look at how Koreans think of their jobs and how their work orientations are shaped.

Based on the International Society Survey Program (ISSP) for 2005, an international survey conducted with 31 out of 43 ISSP member countries, SERI classified people’s work orientations into four types . relationship-oriented, self realization, livelihood, and value-oriented compensation. by using two axes . value of work and interpersonal satisfaction.

“Self realization” refers to countries like the US, in which jobs are expected to bring high value of work. The exemplary case of the “value-oriented” type is France, a country in which employees enjoy high motivational rewards but suffer rampant skepticism about authoritarianism.

Korea belongs to the “livelihood” type, indicating that most employees here in Korea regard their jobs as a means of livelihood with the degree of value of work and job satisfaction remaining low.

SERI also analyzed and compared the key trends and features of the work orientations of four major countries . the US, France, Japan and Korea. The Korean employees turned out to have low satisfaction regarding “opportunities for skills improvement” and “interest in work.”

The primary reasons behind workers’ low satisfaction regarding “opportunities for skills improvement” include a lack of appropriate job training and mentoring programs that are necessary for the improvement of careers and job skills. In this regard, Korea needs to learn lessons from Denso, one of the world’s top three auto parts makers, which runs an in-house job training program aimed at improving skills for less educated employees. Even in terms of interest in work, Korea ranked last among the four countries, indicating that people here tend to place more value on the level of income, job stability and social reputation than their personal aptitude when getting new jobs. The US was positioned at the top in this category, showing that the job seekers put their personal capabilities and attributes first in the list of considerations. Not only when looking for jobs, but also when entering a school of higher grade, Americans make active use of counselor systems.

Korean workers also showed a low level of satisfaction in the category of “pride in their jobs.” This is quite different from US counterparts.

Smucker’s, for example, committed itself into bolstering company loyalty in close collaboration with regional partners. Thanks to these efforts, employees began to feel a strong sense of loyalty toward their company, while believing that the company loves them like a family. Smucker’s, as a result, was named one of the best workplaces in the US in 2006.

In sum, Koreans still regard their jobs principally as a means of livelihood. This mirrors the reality here in Korea where work does little to enrich the life of the people.

Many workers still take it for granted that they have to tolerate anything in return for getting paid. This kind of job atmosphere produces a negative influence on both companies and employees alike. With this in mind, businesses need to make more efforts to develop new programs, aimed at bringing a higher sense of value of work and satisfaction to their employees.

They also need to come up with a new educational training program, in which job placement and career management are performed in consideration of personal interest and growth potential. Also needed is a program to balance life and work that could be achieved by respecting personal time, providing due consideration about the families of workers, helping them upgrade their skills and supporting their leisure activities.

Thank you for watching. I’m Sook-Hee Choi.

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