“What is it like to work in a Japanese company?” If you have never worked in Japan but would love to do so, you must want to know the answer to this question.
Adecco, one of the biggest recruitment agencies operating in Japan, has conducted a job satisfaction survey for 300 foreigners who have regular and white-color jobs there.
The study revealed that 77% of foreign workers were very satisfied or satisfied with their job and the five biggest factors for their satisfaction were “Job role,” “Relationship,” “Working hours,” “Job security,” and “Welfare benefits.”
It seems like working in a Japanese company is a great choice for foreigners but it is still not obvious what exactly makes them feel satisfied with each of these factors. So, let’s go into more detail.
5 reasons why foreign workers are satisfied with their job
The majority of Japanese companies that are eager to hire foreign workers aim to tap into the overseas market and scale their operation globally. As it is hard to find local talent who can speak foreign languages and are familiar with foreign culture, there is a huge demand for foreign workers who can use multiple languages and have a global mindset, regardless of their professional expertise. You can get an important role which a Japanese national can’t take and you can leverage your strength as a foreigner.
In Japanese companies, people think that the mutual relationships between co-workers are very important. It is common for Japanese workers to go drinking with co-workers after work and they seek family-like relationships with each other. Some foreigners feel uncomfortable with this very close relationship, while others think it is very attractive because it allows for security and acceptance within the community.
As the word “Karōshi” represents, it is commonly believed that Japanese people work long hours every day, which is in fact true. However, this situation is gradually changing. Thanks to the Japanese government’s new policy called “Reform work-style,” the average working hours in Japan are decreasing. Some companies have even begun to prohibit overtime.
In Japan, it is very hard for companies to dismiss their employees without adequate reason. This means that employees have a high level of job security and this is one of the biggest benefits of working for a Japanese company. Once you have a job, you can focus on your work and don’t have to worry about losing it.
Basically, Japanese companies have excellent welfare and benefit programs. As companies are required to make foreign employees take out social insurance, you won’t incur lots of medical expenses if you get sick or injured. Additionally, companies pay for your commutates which means you can use public transportation for free on weekdays provided you don’t go outside the area covered by the ticket.
3 major complaints about working in Japan
While the majority of foreign workers enjoy their job in Japan, some do have complaints based on discomfort. The three factors which makes them uncomfortable are “gender inequality,” “high-context culture,” and “beating around the bush.”
According to the research conducted by Teikoku Data Bank in 2016, the average proportion of women in a management position in Japanese companies was only 6.6%. Although the Japanese government set a target to increase the proportion of women who take a leading role in their companies up to 30% by 2020, this goal is far from the current situation. When it comes to gender equality, Japan is still behind other countries.
There is an expression “Aun no kokyu” in Japanese which means people can understand each other without using words. Japan is not a diverse country in terms of its ethnicity and language and this unique environment makes people prefer high-context communication. Foreigners, especially those from Western countries, often get confused with this aspect of Japanese culture. If you want to work in a Japanese company, you have to get used to the communication style at first.
Beating around the bush
In Japan, people think that saying “No” directly is impolite and instead they often use the words “All right” when they refuse something. For example, when you make a proposal to your client and he says “I will consider it,” he actually means “No” in many cases. Japanese people prefer beating around the bush and this aspect of culture can make it really hard for foreigners to understand what locals really mean. Sometimes this kind of indirect communication causes misunderstanding, leading to frustration.
Enjoy working in Japan!
What did you think of these pros and cons about working for Japanese companies? While most foreigners are generally satisfied with their job, it is revealed that some of them feel uncomfortable with Japanese culture and Japanese people’s communication style.
Needless to say, each company has its own unique culture and there are many companies in which woman are taking leading roles. If you are interested in working for a Japanese company, you need to think carefully about whether the corporate culture fits you or not. I hope you find your best-fit job in Japan!