Who does more things China or Japan

Do the Japanese hate their job?

Germans and Swiss are said to be constantly grumbling against their employers. But if you believe a survey by the international personnel service provider Randstad, nobody drags themselves to work as curmudgeonly as the Japanese.

Lowest job satisfaction in Japan

Percentage of employees in different countries who are satisfied with their work in 2019

In an international survey on job satisfaction, the country was the absolute bottom outlier with only 42% of happy respondents. In Germany, at least 71% of those surveyed are happy at work, and 89% of the front runner India.

There is only one catch: the situation in Japan is probably less dramatic than the figures suggest. At least that's what Franz Waldenberger, head of the German Institute for Japanese Studies in Tokyo thinks. "You have to culturally correct the numbers."

It is a well-known phenomenon that Japan is always well behind countries like China and India in many studies on happiness, explains the head of the renowned academic think tank. The reason: "In Japan, understatement is common, also in surveys." The Indians showed self-confidence to the outside world, says Waldenberger. “The Japanese, on the other hand, don't shout out: 'I'm so happy, I'm doing so well!'” Rather, you'd almost be ashamed. You don't want to show that you are better off than others.

Japanese companies can hardly find foreign workers

Nevertheless, even if corrected, the value for the Japanese should probably not be enough for a place in the top group, believes Waldenberger. This was already shown by the problems many Japanese companies had in attracting and retaining top foreign executives.

For Waldenberger, Japan's traditional work culture has an impact here, in which permanent employees exchange job security for self-determination in career planning and leisure time. The HR department often decides in which next position and thus in which place you will be placed. Overtime was and is still the rule, and working hours and models were rigid until before the Corona crisis.

In addition, although people often coordinate internally in order to achieve a kind of consensus, positive confirmation is not widespread, says Waldenberger. "The Japanese system reminds me of the Swabian proverb 'Not being scolded is praise enough'." There is also constant pressure to adhere to the collective rules. Waldenberger's conclusion: "Working life in Japan is certainly more stressful in many ways than in other countries."