Why Asian workers no longer seek “iron rice bowls”

An old Chinese concept, the idea of a lifelong job is no longer attractive to workers in this part of the world.

Finding a good job and building a lifelong career in an organisation used to be the goal of many employees, although it’s clear that this has gone by the wayside. With the changing of jobs every few years becoming the new norm, the concept of “iron rice bowls” is now increasingly passé in countries like Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

According to Randstad’s latest Workmonitor Research for Q2 2017, 73% of employees globally felt that the “job-for-life” was all but extinct. This sentiment was much higher across the region with over 8 in 10 employees in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia agreeing that life-long jobs no longer exist.

Surprisingly, the more senior employees in Singapore and Hong Kong were more pessimistic about a lifelong job than their younger counterparts, going against popular thinking that millennials are the job-hopping generation.

Managing Director for Randstad Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia, Michael Smith, attributed the demise of lifelong jobs and careers to the growing willingness of employees to move organisations and specialisations to define their own career paths based on their own requirements.

With organisations having understood that the traditional career ladder has evolved into a career web, employees are often provided the opportunity to move laterally within their current companies with strong retraining programmes to boost retention of their best talent.

“Despite the less-than-encouraging findings from this latest Workmonitor research, many organisations are starting to take appropriate steps in ensuring that their employees are being provided opportunities for retraining and lateral movement,” says Smith.

“My discussions with senior leaders across industries say they find these lateral movements highly beneficial for both the organisation and the employee, as it allows for fresh innovative perspectives, faster on-boarding and stronger retention rates.”

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