On December 11th, recruitment agency WORKPORT Inc. released the results of their awareness survey on working alongside non-Japanese co-workers, covering 226 Japanese employees nationwide who wish to change their jobs.
In the survey, nearly 45% of the participants who work at Japanese companies answered that they work with foreigners. Among them, 70% indicated that their foreign coworkers are acclimatized to the company culture and working practices.
Regarding the benefits of having foreign coworkers, some of the survey participants noted that their companies can localize their products and services into multiple languages. Others also suggested that foreign coworkers help them think outside of the box, and give them new perspectives. On the other hand, those who disagreed with the initial question, of whether their foreign coworkers were acclimatized, pointed out that challenges come mostly from the language barrier or cultural differences. For example, they found communicating with foreign coworkers in Japanese could be difficult, and in-house rules are often not respected.
The results of this survey also showed that 58% of the Japanese employees that took part believe that they will have to change their work style as Japan accepts more foreign workers. Most of them expressed the importance of adjusting to change and understanding diversity, mentioning that they would have to learn more English to communicate better with the foreign coworkers. Other opinions given by the participants of the survey included the fact that they would have to be more open to foreign ideas and cultures, and furthermore, that working alongside people from other countries would give them an opportunity to improve their management skills by seeing things from various different perspectives.
Moreover, others anticipated improvements in the work environment or corporate structure, as well as clarification of informal rules, commenting that “unspoken rules that have been inherited over the years will finally be clarified” or “the importance of work-life balance will be enhanced”.
Overall, many of the survey participants were in favor of accepting more foreign workers at the workplace, with only less than 20% of them disapproving, saying negative things like “foreign workers might steal our jobs” or “there would be more miscommunication between workers”.
With the implementation of the new immigration law next April, Japan will experience a greater influx of foreign workers than ever seen before. If a company wishes to accept more foreign workers, it is important to welcome them by showing respect to the diversity of languages and cultural values. At the same time, a key factor to help foreign workers acclimatize to the Japanese workplace lies in whether companies can take this as an opportunity to improve their working environment and corporate structure.
[Reference] According to an awareness survey on working with foreign coworkers, covering Japanese employees nationwide who wish to change their jobs, 70% believe their foreign coworkers are acclimatized to the company culture and working environment.