Work culture in Japan is really unique!

Looking at the recent layoffs by companies like Twitter and Meta, I was wondering if counties other than the North American region have a work culture that empowers employees or not. Upon the search, the work culture of Japan surprised me. Have you ever heard that work culture is different between Japan and other countries? In fact, there are various differences in the way employees work in Japan and overseas.

Work culture unique to Japan

First, I would like to talk about the unique way of working in Japan.

lifetime employment

One of the major characteristics of the Japanese work style is the system of “lifetime employment”.
Looking back to history, the mainstream personnel system in Japan in the past was a personnel system called performance-based pay. It was not uncommon for talented craftsmen and skilled engineers to change jobs in search of better working conditions.

lifetime employment

However, in the 1960s, Japan entered a period of high economic growth, and a system for increasing the number of products was established in various fields. In addition to manufacturing, many people were needed for planning, sales, and clerical work. In Japan, many people want to work for large companies with stable performance, and it can be said that there is a strong demand for lifetime employment

On the other hand, in modern Japan, the number of people who want to change jobs to advance their careers is increasing due to the diversification of work styles. In addition, since the lifetime employment system raises labor costs as the number of employees with long service years increases, it is premised that the Japanese economy and corporate performance will continue to grow.

The reality

However, in reality, the Japanese economy is stagnating, if not declining, and many companies find it difficult to maintain the lifetime employment system. In certain industries and industries, business performance is sluggish, and the lifetime employment system is no longer functioning. In addition, the number of companies adopting a lifetime employment system is on the decline due to the advancement of IT technology and the rise of the performance-based system.

Long working hours including unpaid overtime

There are many opportunities to hear the opinion that “Japanese people work too much”. True to his words, it is true that there are many companies in Japan where long working hours, including unpaid overtime, are becoming the norm compared to other countries. Unpaid overtime is a fundamental departure from capitalist thinking and is said to be an unheard-of practice overseas. Under Japanese law, the Labor Standards Act prohibits “in principle, work exceeding legal working hours (8 hours per day, 40 hours per week)”. This is a clear violation of the Labor Standards Act. Overtime work that exceeds this must pay extra wages.

Long working hours including unpaid overtime

However, there are many cases where on-site employees consider unpaid overtime work to be “unavoidable”. The amount of work per employee is large, and it is said that unpaid overtime is becoming the norm, especially in workplaces where there is a shortage of workers. Unpaid overtime is likely to become the norm for “False application for working hours (stamping time cards at the end of legal working hours)”, “Rounding overtime hours (reporting by rounding down fractions such as 15 minutes and 30 minutes)”, and “Before starting work”.

In workplaces where it is commonplace to go to work and start work (not to report it as working hours. Overtime after work has become stricter, and is brought forward before work starts). Unpaid overtime is considered a particularly bad habit in the Japanese working environment, and companies and human resources are required to work together with their employees to eliminate it.

The work culture that makes it difficult to take time off

Another big difference between Japan and other countries is the fact that employees find it difficult to take vacations. In Japan, employees are given paid holidays based on the Labor Standards Law. However, the reality is that most employees are unable to use their paid vacation days. According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare’s Comprehensive Survey of Working Conditions announced in 2019, the rate of taking paid leave in 2018 was 52.4%, and the average number of days taken was 9.4 days. Looking a little more closely, the acquisition rate is 58.6% for large companies with 1,000 or more employees, and 47.2% for SMEs with 30 to 99 employees.

Its difficult to obtain paid leaves in Japan!

It can be seen that it is more difficult to obtain paid leave at business establishments that are working with fewer people. In a 2016 international comparative survey of paid vacations conducted in 26 countries around the world, about 60% of working adults in Japan responded that they feel guilty about taking paid vacations. Many employees give up on taking paid leave.  Because they are aware that taking time off will cause trouble for others around them.

Japan has a strong tendency for male employees in managerial positions to work even when they can take time off. In Japan, where this situation has become chronic, there are more people than in other countries who do not feel that they do not have enough time off. In addition, there are many people who feel resistance to the fact that their subordinates are on paid leave while their superiors are working. There are some cases in which employees who apply for paid leave are rejected by their superiors. Depending on the size of the company, it may be difficult to obtain even legally recognized maternity leave and childcare allowance. In particular, there are still few precedents for childcare for male employees. Considering the burden on those around them, many companies are taking a passive stance on raising male employees.

Bulk recruitment of new graduates

When you think of job hunting in Japan, you probably have a strong image of many students wearing recruit suits and participating in company information sessions at the same time each year. In fact, this style is unique to Japan and is rarely seen overseas. It is a common employment pattern in Japan to join a company after applying for a job, taking a selection test, and graduating from school. During the preparation stage, Japanese students spend one to two years looking for a job. On the other hand, it is common for European and American students to give priority to their studies, which is their main duty, and decide where to work by participating in internships during long vacations.

In Japan, it is customary to hire a large number of new employees. At the same time, for several months after joining the company, employees undergo elaborate training to develop themselves as a company’s strength. However, overseas there is a strong tendency to require immediate workability. There are not many companies that have established a training system as generous as in Japan. In addition, in Japan, recruitment of new graduates is concentrated in April, while overseas it is basically year-round recruitment. The collective recruitment of new graduates has been maintained for a long time because it is highly compatible with Japan’s unique personnel system, such as seniority-based and lifetime employment, but in reality, it is unique even from a global perspective.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
hosting satın al minecraft server sanal ofis xenforo