China’s economic transformation has been accompanied by the explosive growth of its financial sector as banks, insurance firms, asset managers, stockbrokers and fintech disruptors respond the surging demand for financial products ranging from corporate loans to exotic derivatives.
But while the country’s economy is growing fast, it’s changing even faster. For decades, China relied on a vast supply of low-cost workers to support its manufacturing sector and execute an ambitious infrastructure policy. However, demographics pressure and the country’s new wealth have prompted China to engineer a shift towards an economy driven by consumers and high value-added manufacturing in sectors like semiconductors, green energy and technology.
Chinese are changing too. Raised in relative abundance, China’s millennials have been spared the economic struggles of older generations. Better educated than their parents, raised in a digital world, Chinese millennials, like their counterparts in the West, are redefining what it means to work in finance.
Notoriously impatient, millennials expect to climb the ladder fast. Expecting decent compensation from Day 1, they prefer flexible working hours, a casual and egalitarian working environment, the opportunity to work from home and the ability to make their own schedule.
As part of HNI Corporation, the world’s second largest office manufacturer, Lamex recognized what these trends mean: traditional workplace products won’t work for China’s new generation of workers. That’s why HNI invested heavily to upgrade Lamex’s Tangxia factory. Besides automating the factory’s production lines, showrooms were renovated to showcase Lamex’s ability to design comprehensive workplace solutions that help unleash the potential of each employee.
The increased sophistication of the marketplace, the need to attract and retain scarce talent and the evolving expectations of these young knowledge workers already have clear implications for the finance industry. While finance firms have traditionally designed their offices to impress customers, the blurring of the lines separating traditional finance institutions, technology firms, and e-commerce companies is prompting them to create unique workplaces to empower workers.
As people grow more savvy, creativity and teamwork are replacing conformity and individualism. Research shows that Chinese financial workers feel a sense of belonging that transcend their workstations to extend to the entire office. As employees evolve to become creative problem solvers instead of rigid process enforcers, firms need workspaces that nurture communication and collaboration. By designing products that can satisfy the needs of each individual while remaining integrated within an overall concept, Lamex delivers workplace solutions that nudge individuals towards making the collective effort needed to succeed.
As success increasingly depends on the intellectual capital of knowledge workers, more firms will reach the same conclusion as Lamex: they need to invest in holistic workplace solutions that address intangible factors like the health, comfort and ability to communicate of their staff if they wish to attract the talent they need to succeed.