Wage increases top on wishlist for employees in South Korea

When it comes to what employees in South Korea want this year, across all sectors, the answer seems overwhelming: higher wages.
By: | January 3, 2024

What do employees in South Korea want in 2024? Higher wages.

This is according to a recent poll by Embrain Public, which surveyed a 1000 salaried employees over the age of 19. The poll was commissioned by Gapjil 119, a group of labour experts and lawyers dedicated to the civic rights of employees and eliminating the abuse of power at work.  The poll saw that more than three-quarters of the respondents (77.7%) wanted higher wages in the new year, and 25.8 % wanted less intensive work or shorter working hours. Less than a quarter of the respondents sought job stability or to switch to a regular permanent position, while 18.4 % wished to be able to take annual leave more freely.

While wage increase ranked top among all age groups, the second wish on the list varied: Respondents in their 20s said they wished to move to a better organisation while those in their 30s and 40s chose to work less and those aged over 50 preferred job stability.

The Korea Labour Institute also published a similar study in its quarterly journal, which investigated how the number of working hours affected employees and their attitudes towards their careers. A key finding from the study saw that young employees with longer working hours tend to see lower levels of happiness, job and life satisfaction, and employees who work from 15 to 40 hours per week showing the highest positive results.

The study divided employees aged 34 or younger into four groups by weekly working hours — those working less than 15 hours; 15 to 40 hours; 41 to 52 hours; and over 52 hours – to explore the results. Employees who worked the highest rate of respondents satisfied with their career at 59.4 %, followed by less than 15 hours at 52.3 %, from 41 hours to 52 hours at 50.4 % and over 52 hours at 45.4 %, reported Korea Times.

READ MORE: Gender wage gap narrows slowly in South Korea

“Longer working hours are shown to bring down the level of happiness for regular employees more significantly than non-regular employees,” said Park Joo-sang, a researcher at Pukyong National University’s Development of Human Resources and Labour Research Centre, who authored the study. The researcher concluded that the results suggest that youth employment policies related to long working hours are urgently needed to meet international standards.