Trading Places

Inside views on the jobs market

The perils of working in the Western world

November 4, 2008

Looking for a kinder, gentler work environment? If you’re in North America, you might consider heading east.  Human resource experts say cultural differences could be the difference between taking a hefty pay cut and losing your job entirely.

During a downturn in the East, ”the right thing to do is to share the burden. There’s that sense of collective responsibility. Whereas in the West, it’s more about individual survival,” says Michael Benoliel, associate professor of organizational behavior at Singapore Management University.

As the world economy slips into a recession, it’s little wonder all eyes are focused on how global companies are shouldering the burden. Turns out, slashing jobs may not be the best way to cut expenses and stay competitive. In fact, preserving employees — albeit at a lower salary — may stave off economic collapse.

But not everyone’s optimistic about their job prospects, particularly new finance graduates looking for a career start. Not only are they competing with the newly unemployed, but junior positions are often first to get axed when the economy hits the skids.

More good news if you’re an accountant: PricewaterhouseCoopers is hiring. The global accounting firm announced plans to hire 2,000 graduates in China next year as part of its global expansion plan.  Meanwhile, KPMG says it’s planning to create 200 high-end jobs in Toronto over the next year, despite the economic chill.

Do you think the West can learn anything from the work philosophy of the Eastern world - or is the other way around? Share your thoughts below.

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