Samsung NEO Individual Analysis
I. Summary of the main points and core problem
Before figuring out the current problem of Samsung New Employee Orientation, we should first learn that Samsung’s founding values and principles were rooted in the national characters of South Korea. Based on Confucianism, South Korean culture emphasized family values and had a high regard for intellectuals. At the same time, South Korean culture was hierarchical and had a power distance which can be seen from their consciousness of age. It was also a collective and high context culture. These basic ingredients of the national culture had a great impact on forming and influencing the corporate culture of Samsung. Samsung emphasizes the economic contribution to its country, focuses on its employees and remains open to ideas, technology, and innovation. In order to maintain and develop this culture among its workers across Samsung affiliates in different industries, Samsung Human Resources Development Center came up with many programs, in which NEO is the most critical one for helping new employees to adjust to the Samsung culture.
Through this 4-weeks intensive training, new employees are supposed to think and act as Samsung people. But in recent years, NEO was faced with some challenges such as the increasing hiring of more experienced employees and Non-Koreans; the generation change in South Korea followed with younger employees who expect the company to be more open and communicative and want a better work-life balance. What changes and improvements can be made on Samsung NEO to better ensure that all the new employees were socialized into Samsung’s culture was the core issue raised up in this case. II. Analysis in detail
What is Samsung NEO really looks like? Did it work effectively in real life as it was supposed to be? Interesting answers came up from those Samsung employees. The first thing should be clear is that Samsung already offered different new employee training programs for its mid-career and foreign hires. Those three types of new employees in fact do not receive the training together. In addition, many differences lay in the length and intensiveness of the program. “All of us, I mean new in-coming Korean employees, had to live together during that four-weeks orientation. We even couldn’t go back home in the weekend! After the orientation, we prepared for six months for our performance in the Samsung New Employee Summer Festival.1At the beginning we practiced maybe once every two weeks but the practice became very intensive and tiring a few weeks before the festival.” ——Steven (Korean, working for Samsung Card)
“For our foreign workers, the orientation lasted for only two weeks. Courses and some team-building exercises…That’s all. Not that tiring as I had thought. ” ——Charles (Chinese, worked for Samsung Electronics)
Also, the mid-career hires only have a two-week orientation similar with the foreign employees. The core contents of these different NEO training were the same. Courses about Samsung’s history, existence, culture, values and future goal. All those courses were designed to give new employees an overall perspective about Samsung, align them with Samsung’s interests and goals, and especially, make them be proud of being one of this great company. “I felt like they made all the efforts to confuse and spell us by keeping telling us that Samsung is the BEST and you’re Samsung.” ——Joseph (Korean, working for Samsung Display)
However, it is quite obvious that in the case of new Korean employees, Samsung emphasized much more on teaching them how to work in a Samsung way. This is how most Korean Samsung workers feel about the Summer Festival. It really made them see what an amazing outcome they could make if they all work together, work hard and work in the way their company preferred. And most of these Koreans thought Samsung’s pushing on themselves were acceptable. Here is where the society culture of South Korea came to effect. On the other hand, as for foreigners and experienced hires, Samsung did try to influence their working style and adapt them to Samsung’s culture, but in a tender way. This can be more obvious when referring to the new employee orientations in Samsung’s branches over abroad. Since the new hires overseas are going to work in their own countries thus their own cultures, there is no need for Samsung to push them to behave like a Korean employee working in the South Korea Headquarter.
Another group of new employees that might be think as challenging problems for Samsung SHRDC and NEO are the new generations of Korean, so-called “digital natives”. The case reflected that this group of young people didn’t adapt to Samsung’s culture as well as the old generations. On the contrary, they describe the current Samsung culture as conservative and thus need to be more open and communicative. However, are all of those new in-coming young guys of Samsung really holding this kind of opinion towards their company’s culture? “Every year many new young guys came into Samsung and a few of them left here right after the NEO was finished. They left because they couldn’t fit in. People who well passed the program had changed their minds into a new way. Samsung’s way.” ——Ryan (Korean, working for Samsung Electronics)
Certainly Samsung can update the NEO program on what it contains and how it goes. But it should follow the company’s strategic changes based on the new trends of the world, not purposely catering to new generations’ favor. If someone could not get along with Samsung’s culture, he/she would leave in the very beginning. When the new generations start working in Samsung after the orientation, if they want a work-life balance, it is up to themselves. Samsung do not push its employees to work like ” Work hard otherwise you would be fired”. Conversely, Samsung pull them. It made its employees clear that company can send them to SKK GSB, to other top universities overseas, and to live in a foreign country for one year with house, car, insurance and allowance. All of these will be paid by Samsung. If they want the opportunities, then work hard.
The cause of these challenges for Samsung NEO lay in the culture differences between different types of new employees. Samsung already implemented different NEO programs towards Non-Koreans and mid-career employees, shorter time length with less intensiveness comparing to new Korean workers. At the same time, Samsung doesn’t need to worry too much about new generations resisting the corporate culture. Concerning the benefits and self-improvement opportunities Samsung will give to excellent workers, new generations will try to be excellent if they want., which definitely require them to work in the Samsung way. As a foreigner and one of the new generations, I’m satisfied with the current Samsung NEO program. First, because of the culture similarities shared by the Chinese and South Koreans,
I think the intensiveness of foreign new employee orientation is totally reasonable, and also because of the culture similarities, I agree with Samsung’s culture and I’d like to work hard to obtain more benefits and opportunities the company offered. Promoting and maintaining the unique Samsung culture among its new employees is very important for such a enormous world-wide enterprise who believe that “a company is its people”. However, aligning new employees with Samsung’s goal, fostering Samsung values among them and adapting them to the Samsung culture require plenty of efforts far beyond this month-long NEO program. How to adapt the new employees to Samsung’s culture in their first one or two years in the company still needs much more thinking and discussion.