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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Japanese Work Ethic

The Japanese work ethic is very different from the work ethic I'm used to in America. There are several good and bad things about the work ethic in Japan. I think the Japanese work ethic is great overall, but I feel it is one of the aspects of Japanese culture that could possibly make or break a foreigner's decision in moving to Japan.

As a tourist in Japan, you can experience the work ethic in Japan from the outside. One of the most common compliments Japan gets from foreigners is how nice and hardworking the workers appear. This is true, as the workers are doing what is expected of them. If you go into a store or restaurant you will see how polite and efficient the workers are. They will always greet you with a smile and make sure they have served you well. They are willing to go above and beyond for a customer if it's something they can control. That's why tipping in Japan is considered rude and not allowed. The workers are not trying to get anything out of being nice to customers, they are only doing what is expected of them.
Working at McDonald's is a very popular part-time job in Japan. The cashiers always great you with a smile.
What is expected of workers in Japan? If you work in Japan you are expected to do well for the companies sake. You are a reflection of the company. Even though you may have been hired for a specific job you may be expected to do tasks out of your job description in order to help the customer or fellow employees. You are also obligated to socialize with your coworkers after working hours until late at night. These social gatherings after work usually consists of everyone going to a bar to drink. Even the managers and other high positioned coworkers will attend these gatherings. This is meant to bring the employees closer together in order to for a better, more productive working environment.

Now, none of this means that people in Japan are happy with their jobs. They are like any other people who have troubles and is not happy, but the difference between workers in Japan and works in places like America is that Japanese workers don't show their aggravation or stress. In Japanese society it is all about thinking of others before yourself. It is common for Japanese people to think if what they say or do will hurt another person or inconvenience them. That's why you'll always see the workers smiling, because they are thinking about the customer first instead of their own problems.
Food stalls outside of Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, Japan.
Those are all the things I admire about the Japanese work ethic, and I can appreciate these aspects because I experience the opposite at my own workplace or when I'm a customer at a restaurant here in America. I find we have this "it's all about me" attitude, and we have no problem expressing that at work. And I feel we my think too highly of ourselves because we are only doing what is in our job description, not offering to go the extra mile.

But Japan is not perfect, especially when it comes to their work ethic. There should always be a limit to how much work you should do. Japan has a reputation of overworking, with working from the early mornings to the late nights. It is acceptable and common for a to go into work early in the morning and not get back home until 9pm. And you may have heard of Japanese office workers taking a nap at their desk, but this is only done because of the extreme hours they work on a daily basis. The sad reality is that some people are so overworked that they commit suicide. This issue has been discussed and some Japanese companies have recently been improving their employee's hours to avoid such tragedies.

Depending on your already existing work ethic, Japan may or may not be the best place for you to work. You will definitely want to consider all the possibilities before jumping into anything. I hope this blog has help those of you wanting to work in Japan. And I hope this was knowledgeable to those of you just waning to learn more about Japan. Thank you for reading my blog.

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Until next time!!