In the past, Japanese work culture revolved around one core belief: “lifetime employment”. Workers would join a company after graduation from university and remain with that company until their retirement. Often, a strong bond would form between the worker and his (rarely her) company, with customs such as company-wide trips, and “bring your family” events. Accordingly, workers in Japan used to have an awful lot of job security, and job-hopping simply wasn’t a thing.
Now, however, the only people who are generally granted job security for life are civil servants, who work at city hall for their entire career and get shuffled around every couple of years in a process called jinji-idou (personnel transfers) which is designed to keep things fresh. Those who work for regular companies, however, have much less obligation to stick with their employer than they used to, and, in turn, that has led to companies showing significantly less care for their employees. One has only to consider the high incidence of contract workers and part-time workers, and the emergence of so-called “black companies” which flout labour laws and in some cases treat their employees so badly, it can even drive them to suicide.
A new survey conducted by Edelman PR polled Japanese workers to discover just how loyal they feel towards their employers in this economic climate. The results are unsurprising — only 40 percent of those polled agreed with the statement: “I trust the company I work for”.
The results come as part of a larger poll in which the same question was posed to workers in 28 other countries; of that number, Japan ranked bottom in employer company trust. Mexico ranked highest with 89 percent agreeing to the statement. Other results included: United States (64 percent), United Kingdom (57 percent), Australia (54 percent), Canada (64 percent), Germany (62 percent), and France (48 percent).
Another statement, “I foresee improvement in the next five years for myself and my ability to provide for my family” , was met with only a 19 percent agreement rate amongst white-collar workers, dropping to 15 percent amongst blue-collar workers. The global average was 55 and 47 percent respectively for white- and blue-collar workers, indicating that Japanese workers are generally highly pessimistic about their futures in their current companies.