“Go for it!” companies in Japan – new and old

You have to have (octopus) balls in Osaka

Vorkers, the Japanese equivalent to Glassdoor, an online site where employees rate their employers, has just announced its annual rankings of companies in Japan where employees are most engaged.  Diamond magazine has analysed the rankings from the point of view of the regional cultures in Japan.  As noted in a previous post, regional cultures are strong in Japan, and have an impact on corporate cultures.

Diamond magazine notes that Osaka companies are prominent in the top 5 – namely Suntory at #2 and Itochu at #4.  Both have over a hundred year history as Kansai region “merchant” companies and Diamond says this “yatte minahare” (Osaka dialect for “go for it” or translated by Suntory as “follow your nature”) spirit is still evident in the employee comments.  If you like a challenge in your work, these are the kind of companies to join.  “You might get told off by your boss for not doing something, but you don’t get told off if you tried to do something and couldn’t” says one female employee in planning.

Brother, at #15, has its headquarters in Nagoya, the capital of the Midlands of Japan, where many automotive companies are also based.  Founded in 1908, initially as a machine repair workshop, Brother is now most famous for its printers.  80% of its sales are overseas.

Brother employees say that “there has been a big change over the past 5 years.  Overseas travel and secondment is positively encouraged.  It’s the best place for someone who wants to work globally.” (Male, product development).  “Fundamentally the bosses and my seniors are mostly good people.  There is a culture of using surname-san (rather than more formal job titles – see our post on this) and therefore there is not such a formal atmosphere” (female, sales)

As for the newer companies, one to look out for is Uzabase at #33.  It was founded 10 years ago and provides platforms for business intelligence such as NewsPicks.  Employees rate it highly for allowing individual freedom and responsibility.

These are not characteristics traditionally thought to be sought by Japanese employees or prevalent in Japanese companies.  Diamond says the comments on Vorkers show employees praise their companies for developing them as individuals, to allow them to take up all kinds of challenges and forgive mistakes. This is a sign of how the Japanese workplace will need to be when most jobs can be done on a computer, now that overtime is being cracked down on and productivity is being emphasised, to enable both the company and its employees to grow.

 

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