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Young workers: Merely opinionated or softies?

[ 2009-11-30 13:29]     字号 [] [] []  
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They look chic and sophisticated. They are soft and get hurt easily. They seem unbearably spoilt and can't take much pressure. They are the so-called "Strawberry Generation".

The term was coined by a Taiwan writer in one of her books about office rules. It refers to the post-60s generation of office workers, who grew up in a protected environment and got easily dented - just like strawberries - by life's lightest knocks.

This expression is now finding its way into the mainland, and refers to young workers, of only child families, who have been active in the workforce for just a year or two. They are generally well educated but are self-centered and give too much importance to appearance and material comforts.

They are unwilling to work hard, surrender easily to setbacks and often put personal interests before collective interests. The worst of them are characterized as "puddings" or "bean curd".

Bosses often despair of this "Strawberry Generation".

"They can quit for any flimsy reason. They think well of themselves and sometimes even command their bosses and senior colleagues. Yet, their own performance can be wanting," complains Li Ya'nan.

Owner of a public relations agency in Beijing, Li interviewed a girl recently, who left her last job because many senior officials in her former company had been fired. She feared she would be next. But in fact, the company hadn't intended to dismiss her.

"I wondered whether she would be committed to the new job if I hired her," says Li, adding that her experience is not unique.

Young people, however, defend themselves and say the expression is just another hideous, unfair tag being attached to the only-child generation.

"It is true that we cop out if we feel too much pressure and are unsatisfied with our jobs. Our happiness is more important to us than anything else," says Yao Yanxia, 23, an intern in a foreign company.

"Unlike our parents, we won't stay at one job all our lives. But it doesn't mean that we don't have dreams. We will give our best to what interests us and what we take really seriously.

"We stick to our own views and we won't accept others' opinions blindly. It is partly because we grew up independent and with access to much more information."

Office worker Wang Chenlai, 25, says the older generation and the establishment should realize that youngsters today are facing an unprecedented bleak employment market. "We are subject to the pressures of frequent overtime work, long commutes and escalating housing prices. These are more uncertainties, especially while living in big cities," he says.

Li says she wouldn't make a sweeping generalization of the post-80s generation, as there are also many youngsters who work diligently and are modest. "But I do sense a generation gap in our attitudes towards life and work.

My generation devoted itself whole-heartedly to the job and never complained about work or payment," she says.

"I suggest young office workers should be more down-to-earth and persistent."

Hong Xiuting, a career advisor, says new employees should find appropriate ways to release their work tensions.

They should respect their colleagues and learn teamwork. Meanwhile, they also deserve more understanding, tolerance and job opportunities from society, says Hong.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Young workers: Merely opinionated or softies?

About the broadcaster:

Young workers: Merely opinionated or softies?

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.