Digital Insights

Transforming the Workplace of Cambodia's Young White-Collar-Workers

by Managing Director Todd Hunkin, Robert Hör

Future of Work

Cambodia's economy has been transforming towards skills-driven, service and professional jobs. White-Collar-Workers play a pivotal role within this emerging transformation that as of 2020, covered approximately 11% of Cambodia's workforces. With the increasing importance of White-Collar-Workers in the country and with little evidence to support the hypothesis raised in other contexts, this paper aims to shed much needed new light as the realities of young White-Collar-Workers in Cambodia.

In Cambodia, there has been limited research on the transformation of the workplace for the country’s young white-collar workers (WCW). To remedy this, this study was conducted to gain better knowledge and understanding of the values and perceptions of Cambodia’s young WCWs towards the future of work. The study utilized a quantitative methodology with a sample of 350 WCW respondents within the 18-35 age range. For this study, WCWs are defined to be professional, desk, managerial, or administrative workers, rather than physical workers (Almeida-Santos, Chzhen, Mumford, 2010, p.5). The ages 18-35 were selected as these are workers who, in the younger age bracket (18-24), are new to work, and in the higher age bracket (30-35), are maturing into the middle years of their working life. Thus, the sample covers those who are or will be the future workers, entrepreneurs, and trendsetters of working life in Cambodia and shape the future of work within the next 10-30 years. This is particularly salient when considering Cambodia’s relatively unique demography, i.e., approximately two-thirds of the country’s population is under the age of 30.

 

The research sheds light on the needs and expectations of WCW in Cambodia by addressing the following questions:

  • What values do young WCW hold dear?
  • What attracts young WCW to a workplace?
  • How do young WCW in Cambodia envision the future of work?
  • How do young WCW in Cambodia perceive their working conditions?
  • Which measures can be taken by leaders to get the most from young WCW?

 

In recent years, Cambodia’s economy has shifted towards skills-driven, service and professional jobs. WCWs play a pivotal role within these occupations. As of 2020, approximately 11% of Cambodia’s workers are WCWs, with most workers falling into skilled agricultural, forestry and fishery worker (30%), craft and related worker (23%) or elementary occupations (12%) (National Institute of Statistics, 2020). As the Cambodian workforce grows and develops, it is anticipated that WCWs will grow and become more influential over time. However, the adaptation of the private sector, public sector and civil society in response to the combination of different generations in the workplace remains challenging due to a range of factors: Established processes, culture, hierarchies, and diverse generational attitudes.

 

Based on the findings from this study, the authors have provided a set of actionable recommendations at both the company/organisation level and at the policy level to improve the future of work for young WCWs in Cambodia.

 

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About this series

Digital Insights is the flagship publication concerning digital transformation topics of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Cambodia. The publication is published once-a-year and brings together experts, practitioners and academics from various walks of life. The vision of the project is to support research and build bridges to the application in order to create a pro human digital future.

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Todd Hunkin and Robert Hör