This month’s Global Talent Update reports on efforts to limit the amount of alcohol served at work social events in England; opposition to the proposed 69-hour work week in South Korea; and historic low unemployment rates in Mexico.
Businesses are being urged to limit the amount of alcohol served at work social events in order to prevent people from acting inappropriately towards others. The warning from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) comes as it releases a new poll, suggesting a third of managers have seen harassment or inappropriate behaviour at parties.
The CMI, which is a professional body focusing on management and leadership, surveyed more than 1,000 managers at the end of April. The poll found that almost one in three managers (29%) report that they have witnessed inappropriate behaviour or harassment at work parties. Thirty-three percent of women surveyed said they had seen this behaviour, compared with 26% of men. Overall, two in five (42%) said work parties should be organised around activities that don’t involve alcohol. Younger people, aged between 16 and 34, were most likely to say this.
The chief executive of the CMI, Ann Francke, said that socialising with colleagues is “a great team building opportunity” that many people enjoy. But she added that managers have a responsibility to keep inappropriate behaviour in check, and to ensure there are safeguards in place
South Korea’s government has been forced to rethink a planned rise in working hours after a backlash from younger people who said the move would destroy their work-life balance and put their health at risk. The government had intended to raise the maximum weekly working time to 69 hours after business groups complained that the current cap of 52 hours was making it difficult to meet deadlines.
But protests from the country’s Millennials and Generation Z prompted the president, Yoon Suk-yeol, to order government agencies to reconsider the measure. Yoon, a conservative who is seen as pro-business, had supported the raise to give employers greater flexibility. Union leaders, however, said it would force people to work longer hours, in a country already known for its punishing workplace culture.
The plan has also been criticised as out of step with other major economies, including Britain, where dozens of companies last year trialed a four-day week that campaigners said resulted in similar or better productivity and increased staff wellbeing.
South Koreans worked an average of 1,915 hours in 2021 — that’s 199 hours more than the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development average, according to the most recent OECD employment outlook, and 566 hours more than workers in Germany.
Mexico’s unemployment rate hit a historic low of 2.7% in February, according to figures published by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI). The INEGI’s National Employment and Occupation Survey (ENOE) shows that unemployment in February was a full percentage point lower than the same month in 2022, and 0.1% lower than in January this year. Underemployment — the number of people who do not work enough hours — was also down to 7.4% in February, compared to 9.2% in February 2022.
These figures are despite the fact that Mexico’s economically active population of working age grew by 1.7 million people over the previous year. It reached 60 million people in February 2023, of whom 58.3 million were actively employed. Mexico’s unemployment rate has been steadily declining after spiking at the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Overall, Mexico’s economy has maintained a steady recovery from the pandemic and was an unexpectedly strong performer in 2022, ranking sixth out of 34 countries analyzed on a list of “2022’s Unlikely Winners,” compiled by British magazine The Economist. The magazine ranked countries according to five economic and financial indicators — Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, inflation, inflation breadth (the share of inflation basket items whose price has risen more than 2% in a year), stock market performance and government debt. Mexico’s strong performance was due largely to its 3.3% GDP growth.