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An Exploratory Study on theLife Concerns, Work Values,Perceived Job Rewards, Job Satisfaction, and Life Satisfaction of Chinese Female Migrant Workers
Introduction • This study is a pioneering attempt to explore the life concerns, work values, perceived job rewards, job satisfaction, and life satisfaction of Chinese female migrant workers. • Due to the changing social, economic, and political environments in China and the concomitant opportunities for upward mobility, it is anticipated that today’s Chinese females have a distinct set of life attitudes and vocational behaviors. • While Chinese female workers are often perceived as a vulnerable group in the existing power structure of the patriarchal society, the situation faced by migrant female workers may be worse due to social discrimination and unfair treatment.
Introduction • However, research concerning Chinese female migrant workers tended to focus on their hardship and suffering such as the poor work conditions and poor mental status. What seems to be neglected is how they subjectively view their own life and work experiences. • The findings of this research offer a knowledge base for understanding their needs and exploring the ways in which new human service strategies and programs can be developed. They also provide useful information for policy makers to improve the working conditions of female migrant laborers. Social workers could also help equip the new working class with knowledge and skills to pursue their life goals and interests.
METHODS • Data were collected from two toy factories located in the Guangdong province. The total labor population of these two factories was approximately 8,000. • 1,445 frontline workers (18% of the population) were randomly selected from these two factories to complete a structured and anonymous questionnaire. • To assure that the participants understood their job and company well enough, only those who had worked for the toy factory for more than 3 months were selected.
METHODS • Before the survey, two pilot studies, one in each of the factory, were conducted in order to test the validity and reliability of the measurement and to refine the questionnaire. • Research assistants were there to provide non-leading support in order to assure that the less educated could understand the questions and give answers that can accurately reflect their thoughts and feelings. • The life concerns, work values, perceived job rewards, job satisfaction and life satisfaction among various developmental status and socio-demographic subgroups of the participants were examined and compared.
Workshop Training Leisure
Measurements • LifeConcerns: • An index of the sources that provide an individual with a greater sense of meaning and purpose in life (Reker, 1996). Levels of Life Concerns
Measurements • Work Values: • Assessment of the importance of the goals in the work context (Elizur, 1984) Dimensions of Work Values
Measurements • Perceived Job Rewards: • Perceived rewards on Pay • Perceived rewards on Promotion • Perceived rewards on Fringe Benefits • Perceived rewards on Contingent Rewards • Perceived rewards on Supervision • Perceived rewards on Work Environment • Overall Job Satisfaction • A five-question scale developed by Kalleberg (1977) • Overall Life Satisfaction • The Satisfaction With Life Scale (Diener et al, 1985)
Findings 1Comparisons between local female workers (N=621) andmigrant female workers (N=596):
Findings 1Comparisons between local female workers and migrant female workers • Compared with the local female workers: • Migrant female workers pay more attention to the collective matters, such as societal causes, traditions and culture. • Migrant female workers show more concern over the meanings which transcend self and others, such as religious activities and their relationships with nature. • Migrant female workers attach less importance to the instrumental aspect of work, such as compensation and benefits. • Migrant female workers feel more rewarded in every job dimension. • Migrant female workers feel more satisfied with their jobs.
Findings 2Comparisons between younger migrant female workers (N=131) andolder migrant female workers (N=447):
Findings 2Comparisons between younger female migrant workers andolder female migrant workers • Compared with the older female migrants: • Younger female migrants attach more importance to the social aspect of work, such as the relationships with co-workers and supervisor. • Younger female migrants value more on the psychological aspect of work, such as use of ability, sense of achievement and meaningfulness of work. • Younger female migrants feel less rewarded in most job dimensions. • Younger female migrants feel less satisfied with their jobs. • Younger female migrants feel less satisfied with their lives.
Findings 3Comparisons between migrant female workers with different educational levels (Controlling the effect of age) • Migrant female workers with elementary educational level feel more rewarded in most job dimensions than those with middle school level and those with high school or above level, F(2,549)=6.45, p<.01. • Both of those with elementary educational level and those with middle school level have a higher job satisfaction than those with high school or above level, F(2,549)=3.36, p<.05. • Those with elementary education level have a higher life satisfaction than those with middle school level and those with high school or above level. Meanwhile, those with middle school level also show a higher life satisfaction than those with high school or above level, F(2,549)=6.39, p<.01.
Discussion • Past studies suggested that Chinese female migrant workers had been placed in a disadvantaged position and suffered from various kinds of hardship and discrimination. • However, the present study finds that even though the migrant females are experiencing unfavorable work conditions, they still show a more positive attitude towards every dimension of their perceived job rewards and job satisfaction than their local counterparts. • It is undoubtedly important that we should reveal the undesirable work conditions faced by migrant females in order to inform policy and practice. Nevertheless, the current findings suggest that we also need to examine how the migrant females interpret their life and work subjectively so as to understand their needs and concerns.
Discussion • The current findings correspond with recent studies (Cennamo & Gardner, 2008; Kwok, 2012) that the younger generation migrant workers showed a lower job satisfaction level than the older generation. They also perceived that they had less job rewards than the older generation. • With a greater opportunity to attain higher education levels, younger females might possess higher career expectations than the older ones. With higher expectations, the younger females might find it more difficult to gain job rewards and job satisfaction. • Since many studies indicated that employees with lower job satisfaction would have a higher intention to quit, it is important for the managers to understand the needs and expectations of the younger workers in order to tackle the serious labor turnover rate and shortage faced by many firms in mainland China nowadays.
Discussion • In line with recent studies (Cennamo & Gardner, 2008; Chen & Choi, 2009; Josiam et al., 2009; Wong et al., 2008), the current findings show that younger female workers value more on social relationships. These echo Neil’s (2010) comment that the younger generation tendedto be more group-oriented and seek relationships with others because they were born into an era which stresses social network and support. • They also value more on work status than the older generation. This reflects that the younger generation has a stronger desire for upward mobility. This could also be a result of their larger investment in obtaining higher education.
Discussion • The findings tell us that young female migrant workers are looking for something else other than good job rewards. Affiliation is one of those things, perhaps it is because the young migrants left their hometowns alone at an early age and have little family and social lives. • Besides, job advancement also means a lot to young female migrants. Nowadays the upward mobility of Chinese females is enhancing due to the increased educational and job opportunities. Young female migrants even constitute a huge manufacturing workforce. Their new needs in the workplace, namely achievement and advancement, should not be neglected by the employers and the government.
Discussion • This study arouses the awareness of the role of occupational social workers in China. As factory work occupies a big part of workers’ life, it could be anticipated that negative work encounters would affect one’s personal life. Along with the little voice of workers in the factory, it is important to have a professional who can spot the needs of the workers, provide counseling to individuals or groups, help with the employees’ personal and social development, provide management trainings, and provide consultations to administrators and labor unions about the concerns and needs of the employees. • Factories offer convenient access and valuable opportunities for practitioners to deal with the problems and potentials of a large group of disadvantaged population - workers. Therefore, it is suggested that factory should be one of the significant domains where practitioners in China should step in.