The likes of "Gangnam Style" reverberate across the grounds of Samsung's flagship cellphone factory, the Gumi complex just south of Seoul — and the K-Pop blares all day long, which kind of sounds like a mellow version of torture to this American worker. "Korean pop music seems to be everywhere outside, usually coming from outdoor speakers disguised as rocks," writes Sam Grobart, in his new Bloomberg Businessweek cover story on "How Samsung Became the World's No. 1 Smartphone Maker." While the sweet sounds of any type of music throughout the work day seems like an irritating fixture at any place of work, if a little dystopian, it apparently soothes the South Korean tech giant's worker bees. "The music, a Samsung spokeswoman explains, is selected by a team of psychologists to help reduce stress among employees," Grobart continues. So maybe hearing a little Beyoncé while walking around the office park wouldn't be such a terrible idea over here.
Samsung's flagship manufacturing plant is full of other little innovations to keep workers happy and the quality of work high. Like Apple's Foxconn campuses we've heard so much about in China, Samsung's 10,000-plus workers at the giant employment centers live in dorms, eat in mass dining halls, and even work out at special fitness centers. Also: "The coffee shop on the Gumi campus has its own roaster," Grober explains. Plus, there's an employee incentives program that rewards workers with bonuses for cost savings ideas.
Of course, not all of Samsung's manufacturing facilities are sunshine and K-Pop. Much like Apple, Samsung has a darker side, with Chinese factories that have much lower standards than the South Korean campus Grobart visited. A China Labor Watch report from last fall found a lot the familiar worker abuses — underage workers, exhausting working conditions — in the South Korean's supply plants. But Samsung didn't take Grobart on a tour of those. Nor does he mention them.