New workers confront 'use-and-discard' employers
At the end of October, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare issued statistics on the percentage of new corporate hirees who had resigned within three years of their joining their companies. The figure for all industries was 28.8%, and was especially high in education-supporting businesses (48.8%), hotel and food and beverage services industries (48.5%) and retailing (35.8%).
What is responsible for this exodus?
“I suppose that for students with little social experience, being put in direct contact with customers making complaints creates more pressure than they anticipated,” an unnamed employment consultant tells Shukan Gendai (Dec 1).
“For example, in the case of McDonald’s Japan, within six months to a year after being hired, they might be working as an outlet manager. So even before they’ve had time to learn the ins and outs of the job, they’re in a position where they have to give orders to workers of their own generation or to part-timers, which puts them under heavy stress, and which leads to many resignations.”
And sometimes, the job’s just not worth it.
One 25-year-old describes his experience at a real estate firm, which he left two years after joining.
“I worked from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., with just five or six days off in a month,” he relates bitterly. “There was no payment of overtime, and I only got 30,000 yen a month stipend for sales. The company had no real method of training newcomers ... I’d have to distribute 2,000 flyers per day. My seniors picked on me too.
“Out of nine newcomers including myself at the office, three left the first year, and more than half were gone by the third year.”
According to Ryohei Kawamura of POSSE Jimusho, an NPO that deals with labor problems, due to the effects of the ongoing “employment ice age,” today’s students are inclined to seek stable employment.
“It’s not that the number of students quitting their jobs within three years has been increasing,” Kawamura asserts. “I think that many people who enter such companies do so with the intention of staying for a long time.”
But the employer side, increasingly, has less interest in pursuing the lifetime employment system.
“Japanese workers have not changed from being selfless and self-sacrificing,” says Keiichiro Hamaguchi, an employee at LPT, an independent labor research office. “But the long-term or career employment system is vanishing. In their efforts to stand up to intense global competition, companies have been adopting a system that no longer presumes long-term employment by workers.”
Publisher Toyo Keizai produces an annual book that contains information on the number of new staffers and the number still with the company, and the percentage of new hirees who have left the company. (A disclaimer notes that the data is not specifically utilized to rank companies with high rates for resignation of new hirees.)
For instance, in 2009, Hotel Okura Tokyo hired 96 new staff, of whom 47 resigned within three years, giving 49.0%. Other companies with high rates of resignations included McDonald’s Japan (45.0%); Kinki Nippon Tourist (42.9%); dining portal Gurunavi (39.2%); Matsuya Foods (37.9%); Mini-Stop (35.2%); and Book-Off Corporation (35.1%).
So then how can a student job seeker spot which types of employers to avoid? According to the aforementioned Kawamura, one type would be “add and subtract” companies such as in the IT and apparel sectors, which recruit actively on campuses, but which often urge workers to leave. A second is demanding “work them until they drop” employers, often found in such sectors as beverage service industries, apparel, personal computer schools and others.
The third is the so-called “collapse of order” type, in which incidents of cruelty leading to fatal injuries sometimes occur—such as in senior care facilities—which are also understaffed due to low remuneration.
Since only 62% of university job seekers from the 2011 graduating class found jobs, it means nearly 40% did not. And in the current “buyer’s market,” more companies have taken a callous “use-and-discard” approach to their new human resources.
Hosei University associate professor Mitsuko Uenishi advises candidates to shun “brand name” companies—which in any case are inundated with applicants. “All the job hunting will just wear you down and hurt your self-esteem,” she says. “Instead, since there are excellent small and medium-sized companies that are hiring, graduates ought to consider applying to them.”