job charts11

There are many things that we generally understand about what it is to be a Japanese businessman. The country has cultivated a careful image of men and women in black suits putting on the appearance of hard work, with their constant movement and expected overtime. But how much do we really know about what it’s like to be a member of the Japanese workforce. Why do they do it and how do they like it? What is the atmosphere like and where can the workers find joy?

To help us wrap our heads around these many mysteries, a series of helpful charts have been collected by Japanese website, Naver Matome, throwing some quantitative perspective on how Japanese workers really spend the majority of their waking hours.

Disclaimer: Most of this data is a few years old, so present day numbers may vary slightly. The date of the study has been placed in parentheses beside the English translation of each survey question.

1. Is your current job your first choice occupation? (2010)

job charts0138.3% Yes
61.7% No

It looks like three fifths of Japanese people are not actually living their dreams. Hopefully, they at least got their second pick or have grown to find some satisfaction in what they do for a living. Although, later graphs might suggest otherwise…

2. Is your working environment the kind of place where you can laugh and smile candidly? (2010)

job charts02

56.7% I often smile candidly
36.6% I often force a smile
6.7% I never smile

A smile can do wonders to alter one’s mood, whether it stems from some inner satisfaction or outside encouragement. It’s hard not to pity the 43.3 percent of people who don’t share that joy.

3. When do you feel happy during work? (2008)

job charts10

55% When thanked by my customers/clients
46% When I get a raise or a promotion
44% When the boss praises my work

64% When thanked by my customers/clients
57% When the boss praises my work
43% When thanked by my peers or subordinates

It’s interesting to see the differences between what most satisfies the men and women of this particular survey. At least one thing remains constant: Everyone is most happy when the services that they provide are well-received by their clients and customers. That’s the greatest affirmation of a job well-done.

4. How do you pass the time during your lunch break? (2008)

job charts03

48.7% I often eat with coworkers in the office
27.6% I often eat alone in the office
10.4% I often eat with coworkers outside of the office
13.3% I often eat alone outside of the office

Whether eating alone or in a group, what strikes me as particularly outstanding is that more than 75 percent of Japanese workers do not leave their offices at all throughout the majority of their working days! Would a change of scenery not be to some benefit?

5. How often do you eat and drink with your coworkers after finishing work? (2008)

job charts04

18.9% Never
43.4% Less than once a month
18.3% Once a month
11.9% Two or three times a month
4.6% Once a week
1.8% Two to three times a week
1.0% Almost every day

Those who go out regularly during the week must be on wonderful terms with their peers. However, I worry for those that don’t ever go out. They’re almost certainly missing out on some prime opportunities to make a good impression on the boss.

6. Have you had a relationship with someone in your workplace? If so, what was your partner’s relative status? (2012, women only)

job charts05

46.2% Yes
53.8% No

46.7% Senpai (similar position but with the company for longer)
30.0% Boss
16.0% Peer
3.3% Subordinate
3.3% Kohai (similar position but newer to the company)

Inter-office fraternization is not particularly frowned upon in most Japanese workplaces. But ladies had better be careful about getting too involved if they hope to have a lasting career. Even today, the moment a Japanese woman gets married, she is socially expected to quit work and focus on becoming the perfect stay-at-home wife.

7. Would you like to change jobs at present? (2011)

job charts06

17.2% Definitely yes
34.8% If I had to pick one, yes
31.4% If I had to pick one, no
16.6% Definitely no

So 52% of Japanese people would like, on some level, to quit and find a new job. The study which posted the original pie chart actually went on to say that the number one reason people wanted to quit their jobs was because the pay wasn’t good enough. Beyond that, reasons varied but included a lack of motivation, the inability to get along with coworkers, and the potential for a different job that the respondent would rather do. The reasons all appear valid, but how terrible to think that more than half of the Japanese workforce is so dissatisfied by what they do for a living.

8. What is the minimum annual income change that you would require to accept a job change? (2011)

job charts08

10% more than one million yen (US$10,000)
15% 500,000 to 990,000 yen ($5,000 – $9,900)
21% 10,000 to 490,000 yen ($100 – $4,900)
4% No change
20% minus 10,000 to 490,000 yen ($100 – $4,900)
13% minus 500,000 to 990,000 yen ($5,000 – $9,900)
16% minus more than one million yen ($10,000)

This study is different from the one conducted in chart seven, and the numbers here are even more shocking. Nearly 60 percent of these respondents were so dissatisfied with their work that they were willing to take a pay cut for the chance to change jobs.

9. Why do you work? (2008)

job charts09

70+% For the livelihood of me/my family

Of course, when all is said and done, it takes work to maintain any sort of respectable lifestyle. Even those people who aren’t entirely satisfied with their occupations will persevere for the sake of their family’s livelihood. According to the numbers, personal growth takes a back seat and finding the work interesting only struck a chord with 20 percent of respondents.

You know, now that I see how dissatisfied people truly are with the Japanese workforce, I wish I could go back to being willfully ignorant. These numbers are nothing short of depressing…

Source: Naver Matome (Japanese)
Images: Sense Post, Freshers, r type, Biz College, goo Research, Woman type, DODA, en Partners