My very first job in Japan was with an established, well-known company that’s one of the top enterprises in its field. The company’s nationwide scale and decades of operations seemed to mark it as sophisticated and experienced enough to appreciate the value of a good employee support system, so I was a little surprised during the training session for new employees when we were told, “If you’re going to take a sick day, you have to tell your manager at least 24 hours in advance.”

The problem is, coming down with the flu isn’t like getting free shipping from Amazon, in that it usually doesn’t take more than a day. Unfortunately, my old employer never taught us how to know we’d be sick two days ahead of time, but another Japanese company has an effective way of sidestepping the issue entirely: never check to see if you have a fever.

Almost all major Japanese companies hire new employees just once a year, and each year’s batch starts working right now, in April. Complaining about the younger generation’s lack of gumption is as popular a hobby in Japan as in any other country, and one Japanese company is determined to toughen up their new recruits, according to Twitter user N_write.

“My friend just got a job,” he shares, “and at the training for new employees, they told him, ‘There are times when you have to come to work, even when you’re not feeling good.’”

So far this seems reasonable. After all, the gears of industry won’t stop turning just because you’re feeling a little under the weather, and everyone appreciates a team player who can suck it up and pitch in.

The instructor wasn’t done yet, though, as he went on to tell his company’s fresh-faced new recruits that, “If you don’t take your temperature, you won’t realize you’re actually sick, and you’ll be able to come to the office. Please throw away your thermometers.”

▼ All this time, we thought the biggest roadblocks on the path to riches were laziness, shortsightedness, and multiple lunch-time scotches, but it turns out all along the real culprit has been this little guy.

By preventing workers from measuring just how sick they are, the company is also keeping them from determining whether they’ve just got a little sniffle or a serious illness. This seems like it’d be counterproductive, since high fevers are often a symptom of contagious sicknesses, and it only takes one infected individual to pass it around to the whole office. Of course, as long as everyone adheres strictly to the instructor’s advice and diligently refuses to take their temperatures, the company will still have a full staff at work every day, so maybe having everyone throw away their thermometers would be good for business.

▼ Unless, of course, the company manufactures thermometers

Japanese business norms make this a particularly tricky situation. As we said, most companies in Japan do all of their hiring in a single batch, once a year. Failing to find a job means waiting 12 months until you can try again, and a blank year without gainful corporate employment is considered a serious black mark on one’s resume.

▼ Japanese doesn’t really have an expression for “finding yourself.”

Likewise, if you quit soon after starting, you’ve got about another year of waiting until well-paying, white-collar positions start hiring again, at which point you’ve got a large gap in your professional resume plus the stigma of being a quitter, something that hard-working Japan frowns on in general.

N_write, having much more empathy than his friend’s trainer, took the company to task for pressuring its employees into what he feels is an explotative relationship. “I think companies like this one scare their new employees by saying, ‘You won’t be new college graduates anymore. The economy still isn’t good, and when you go looking for a new job, they’ll think you’re the kind of person who gives up easily. There’s nothing to be gained from quitting, and all the hard work you did to get the job you have now will have been a waste.’”

We’ve heard of people throwing away their freedom, personal relationships, and even their morals in order to succeed at business, but for the sake of workers’ health, not to mention the health of the customers they come into contact with, we hope this trend of getting rid of thermometers doesn’t catch on.

Source: Jin