In high tech, galbi restaurant poaches from rice store
Samsung Electronics' Device Solutions (DS) division is seeing an inflow of experienced workers, many incoming from rival SK hynix.
In the industry, it's part of the eternal war between the big galbi restaurant in Suwon — Samsung Electronics' nickname — and the rice store from Icheon, which is SK hynix's.
“We have a considerable number of candidates incoming from the ‘Icheon rice store,’” an executive from the DS division of Samsung Electronics told his staff recently, according to a JoongAng Ilbo report.
SK hynix's headquarters is in Icheon, Gyeonggi, a region known for growing rice. Samsung Electronics is headquartered in Suwon, Gyeonggi, an area famous for restaurants specializing in galbi, marinated beef ribs.
Samsung Electronics, and particularly its DS division, is known to attract employees from other companies in the same industry. Experienced workers in various sectors such as semiconductors, IT, strategy and planning division are regularly recruited by the electronics maker.
Samsung Electronics is estimated to have recruited several hundred new employees this month, though the company doesn't discuss numbers.
With SK hynix losing many employees, the company’s union released a statement on May 27 demanding management take responsibility.
According to the statement, 301 employees in technology departments resigned from SK hynix between January and May 25. A total of 307 employees resigned between January and September 2019, and 313 in the same period last year. The union said most are experienced employees, referring to those who worked in the industry for four to five years.
Despite the union’s warnings, the company says it's not concerned.
"It is true that there is a slightly higher number of resigning employees compared to previous years, but we don't consider it to be significant," said a spokesperson for SK hynix.
According to the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS), Samsung Electronics’ DS division had 61,374 employees as of the end of March, up by 2,104 or 3.55 percent from 59,270 in the fourth quarter last year.
Considering Samsung Electronics saw average employee growth of 820 people each quarter and a yearly increase of 3,300 since 2018, the recent quarterly rise is noteworthy.
“We expect to recruit more talent in the future,” said a source from Samsung Electronics.
Samsung Electronics has been hiring experienced employees on a large scale since April 2019, when the company announced its Semiconductor Vision 2030, which outlined plans to employ some 15,000 system semiconductor professionals.
With an increase in both new recruits and experienced employees from other companies, Samsung Electronics has much integration to do.
“Internal favoritism towards employees [who haven’t switched jobs and have only worked at Samsung companies] is gone for the most part, as perception towards job flipping experienced workers has changed,” said Lee Jang-hee, a professor at Konkuk University Glocal Campus’ Business Administration and Economics. “It’s similar to how planting already grown seedlings is more effective than starting from seeds.”
For Samsung Electronics to keep its new employees, expanding investment in infrastructure is important.
“Engineers require well-supported research environments and facilities in order to achieve satisfactory results,” said a spokesperson for Samsung Electronics. “Investing in infrastructure is the biggest contributing factor behind the massive inflow of experienced employees. This means that we have to continue the virtuous cycle of attracting talent through investment.”
Amid an increasing number of young employees, the corporate culture also needs some changes. Young Koreans tend to be more straightforward in requesting higher pay. In March, the electronics company was blasted by its employees for giving insufficient bonuses and raises despite a flourishing business. Many workers complained on Samsung Electronics' online bulletin board.
“It is necessary to understand how the younger generation thinks and behaves and apply transparency to corporate management,” said Kwak Keum-joo, a professor at Seoul National University’s Department of Psychology.
BY LEE SANG-JAI [firstname.lastname@example.org]