Chinese vs. Western Millennials


This week’s post was produced in collaboration with Hogan Injury – based on their outstanding article about global millennials. Let’s compare Chinese millenials with their global counterparts.


Chinese vs. Western Millennials

Both Chinese and Western millennials (千禧年一代 qiānxǐnián yīdài) represent the majority of labor force today. And we are not talking about entry-level positions only. Aged 22 to 37 in 2018, millennials are starting to take on leadership roles, too.

In dealing with millennial workers, both managers and coworkers must understand this generation. Much has been said about it already: the topics of work ethics (职业道德 zhíyè dàodé), values (价值观念 jiàzhí guānniàn), and beliefs (信念系统 xìnniàn xìtǒng) of global millennials have been growing popular both online and offline.

Yet, can we generalize? Are there any neglected cultural differences that influence millennials coming from different language and cultural backgrounds?

1. Mentorship

Chinese vs. Western Millennials | Mentorship

🌍 “Globally, millennials appreciate regular feedback. This comes from the need for constant growth and learning. They feel more valued when they get feedback from their superiors – whether positive or negative.”

🇨🇳 As for millennials in China, this isn’t always true. Unless their job involves close exchange with a superior on a daily basis, the relationship between a regular employee and their boss/supervisor is very formal – with Chinese millennials often feeling shy and afraid of speaking to the boss directly.


2. Working in Teams

Chinese vs. Western Millennials | Working in Teams

🌍 “Global millennials not only posess a good sense of individuality, but also work well in groups. They believe that business decisions are better made when there is a variety of input provided by individuals.”

🇨🇳At school, Chinese students study so much in preparation for gaokao, college entrance exams – that they get used to work individually. The true ‘team work’ experience begins for them once they graduate and begin to work in a company. Yet, they enjoy working in a team and being part of it.


3. Work-Life Balance

Chinese vs. Western Millennials | Being Challenged

🌍“Millennials value work-life balance; mental health is a top priority for them. Besides, millennials feel stressed and under pressure due to factors such as low pay rates and high entry-level workloads.”

🇨🇳 It’s also true towards millennials in China. An average working day starts at 9am and finishes at 6pm – and once the working day is over, most people hurry to leave, and finish the remaining work the next day. This behaviour is encouraged by the strict laws that protect employees; plus working extra hours is rarely compensated, so there are no insentives to stay. And privately run companies can’t really compain – they simply cannot offer as many advantages as state-run companies, and fear that strict working conditions might force their employees to flee to a better environment.


4. Being Challenged and Embracing Change

Chinese vs. Western Millennials | Being Challenged

🌍“Being the most educated generation to date, millennials are always up for challenges and are ready to take on changes within the organization, provided that they are shown transparency and inclusion in the decision-making.”

🇨🇳 Most Chinese millennials, on the contrary, prefer to have a job that brings them pleasure and makes them happy – rather than a job that brings challenges. They believe a good job should offer a decent salary, fixed working hours and insurance.

Yet, speaking of challenges, many millennials also stick to the idea that switching jobs every two or three years is ‘very good for them’. They place personal growth above all – so changing the environment can also be seen as a sort of challenge.


5. Integrity and Ethics of the Business

Chinese vs. Western Millennials | Integrity

🌍 “Millennials put much value on how businesses put their employees first, as well as their solid foundation of trust and integrity. Employee satisfaction and fair treatment ranked number one among values that millennials look for in a business, while ethics, trust, integrity, and honesty came in close second.”

🇨🇳 This is true for Chinese millennials as well. As mentioned before, many value state-run enterprises much more than private companies – for the social benefits they give. But on the other hand, many people find these jobs boring, as they offer small room for personal growth.


6. Social Responsibility

Chinese vs. Western Millennials | Social Value

🌍“In valuing an organization, millennials look for authenticity and meaning. They go for companies that hold the same values as they do, and rally around the causes they feel strongly for. Millennials look for reputation-related attributes in businesses when looking for jobs. These attributes include caring about employees, environmental sustainability, community relations, and ethical products and services.”

🇨🇳 In this regard Chinese millennials are totally similar to their Western counterparts. They do share lots of similarity after all!



Have you experienced working with millennials? Are you one?

Does the same description apply to millennials in your country?

Share your ideas in the comments below – or reach out to us on twitter!

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That’s Mandarin Blog offers tips and advice on living and studying Mandarin in China, and explores the stark cultural differences between the East, the West – and everything in between.

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