Giant robot toymaker gives workers giant raises to boost motivation, with one possible catch.

Over the past year, people in Japan have winced as company after company announces that it’s raising the prices for its products or services. On Monday, though, there was an announced increase that’s producing smiles instead, and it comes from Bandai.

As part of its mid-term planning announcements, the Japanese toymaker said that it will be raising the salaries of new employees entering the company directly after graduating from university by roughly 30 percent. Like many Japanese companies, Bandai offers a standard contract to new workers in that demographic, and the new system will bump their monthly salary from 224,000 yen (US$1,950) up to 290,000, an increase of 66,000 yen (or 29.5 percent) a month. This isn’t some vague-timeline virtue-signaling PR stunt, either, as the new compensation system goes into effect just two months from now, coinciding with the spring start of the Japanese business year and Bandai’s 2022 recruits starting work.

You can’t suddenly raise salaries just for new hires without severely upsetting the members of your existing workforce who got leapfrogged. That shouldn’t be an issue here, though, since Bandai has also announced that from April it will be raising salaries among its 1,500 current full-time permanent employees by an average of 27 percent. As for why the company is feeling so generous, it says the salary increases are part of its efforts to boost employee motivation and energize the workplace.

Many Twitter users have been quick to applaud the move by the company that all that plastic Gundam model kit money flows back to, with comments including:

“I’ll be honest: I’m totally jealous.”
“I hope other companies see this and quickly follow Bandai’s example.”
“Totally different from other companies that ruin workers’ motivation through salary cuts.”
“I bet job-hunting otaku are typing up their applications as soon as they hear about this.”

However, while Bandai employees’ salaries are going up, they may or may not end up making more money than they did under the old system. Along with boosting motivation, Bandai says one goal of its new compensation system is to stabilize workers’ income by making their salary a larger portion of their total annual earnings. As for what the other part of that ratio is, it’s common for large companies in Japan to pay sizable bonuses to employees twice a year when the company is doing reasonably well.

▼ Basically, annual income structure can transform, like the head of the RX-0 Unicorn Gundam.

While Bandai hasn’t explicitly said it’s doing away with bonuses entirely, the company’s press release specifically states that it is “raising the ratio of monthly salary as part of annual income,” which definitely makes it sound like bonuses will be harder to come by under the new system. That said, bonuses are never guaranteed and are sometimes skipped by companies during times of recession, so having that extra cash built into their set salaries is still a plus for workers. That’s especially true since a bonus equal to six weeks’ salary is considered a nicely sized one in the Japanese business world, and two a year would work out to 25 percent more than base salary alone, meaning Bandai’s new hires are still coming out 5 percent ahead than they would have in a good year for the company, and 30 percent better than in a bad one.

So all in all, it’s a nice move by Bandai, and if anyone feels like raising a glass of sake to toast their considerateness, this seems like the appropriate choice.

Source: Bandai via Oricon News via Livedoor News via Otakomu, Twitter/@livedoornews
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