Updated May. 14, 2014 01:46
The headquarters of Youngjin Steel, a small steel company with about 100 employees located in Dangjin, South Chungcheong Province, looks like a luxurious resort in its appearance. Its employees dormitory building with red bricks looks like an elaborately decorated pension, which are equipped with various amenities such as a fitness center, garden and sauna. The companys employees say in unison that unlike what usually comes to mind when people think of a steel manufacturer such as a factory stuffed with smoky air, the company provides a very pleasant environment.
Pentabreed, an integrated advertising and marketing company with about 150 employees, has renewed the depressed atmosphere of the company by improving its work environment. Probably thanks to the change, its sales, which had been stagnant for years, has been dramatically increasing recently. In 2012 when it moved to the current office in Gangnam district, Seoul, the company expanded convenient facilities for employees, such as a massage room and lounge. Spaces that are not used and often wasted were decorated with carpets, desks and chairs. The companys goal was to make an office where people can work and take a rest at the same time. Park Tae-hui, the CEO of Pentabreed, said, With changed atmosphere and increased work efficiency, creative ideas are flooding in.
An increasing number of SMEs are paying attention to the so-called invisible wage. They see improved work environment can lower high turnover rates and improve productivity and labor relations. This phenomenon is attributable to many SMEs thinking improving employee welfare is better than simply raising the monthly pay.
According to the Dong-A Ilbo and online employment site Saramins recent survey of 1,736 job seekers, respondents consider work environment and welfare as important as wage.
Eight out of 10 respondents said they are willing to work for small- and medium-sized enterprises. When asked under what kind of conditions they are willing to work for an SME (multiple answers allowed), good work environment and high quality employee welfare even if the wage is low topped the list with 49.2 percent, followed by when the wage gap between the SME and large companies is narrow (31.6 percent) and when the SME has a high growth potential (17.9 percent). When asked what SMEs should do to secure high-quality human resources (multiple answers allowed), work environment improvement (59.6 percent), Employee welfare improvement (58.7 percent) were considered as important as wage increase (61.2 percent).
Experts say that the results reflect what the younger generation who tends to pursue personal satisfaction and quality of life values in their lives. Jo Jae-gwon, a 31-year-old man who seeks for a job, said, In the past, many people tried to get a job in large companies worrying about the way other people see them But now I want to work for a company that makes me feel that the company is thoroughly caring about me.
Shin Gwang-yeong, a professor of Sociology Department at Chung-Ang University, said, To break peoples preference for large companies, improving companys images and making a company that employees can be proud of is as important as narrowing the wage gap People used to think that work in SMEs is 3D (difficulty, dangerous and dirty), but SMEs have recently expanded investment in the `invisible wage,` which is a positive change.