Working long hours, liked by their boss, taken to drinks after work hours, and continue to work in the same company for a long period for a great promotion, and leaving the business world at the retirement age. That kind of “Showa” period work style is all covered in dust and rust these days. The idea of needing to stay until your boss leaves, that’s in the past. Now in Japan too, one needs to think about career path, build and polish skills and change companies if needed. Efficiency is the key to success. Especially for the younger generation (as much as I hate to say it like that), changing jobs is an option to take to consider more salary and more time for themselves, or for their family. Then how is one supposed to manage and cope with those who seem to wish for no promotion but a stable career path?
To begin with, what is the problem with this? As for a quick answer, you might miss out on the perfect candidate. Managers don’t just randomly choose who to promote (or at least I hope they don’t). They choose who is the best fit for the job considering their work style, their commitment to work, and their efforts shown. Internal evaluation and career path image might also come into consideration. Rejecting the offer means to crash all that effort and trust down to dust.
As it is easy enough to imagine, still, younger generations (especially in Japan) refuse to take the offer. Reasons differ in individual cases, but 2 things that are clear are 1. They have a lifestyle not needing a promotion, and 2. They work to live, not live to work.
It might sound difficult when the fact states “life style no need of a promotion” but the core is simple; they don’t find management attractive.
Becoming a director or a manager was one of the biggest statuses man could have. But, that is the past when age and long work hours were valued as a good employee. They were the stars of the business world. Now, things have changed, and those high class positions are not the only value, rather more an optional treat to have.
For the younger generation, tough but strong is not the treasure they seek. They like more style, smooth, elegance and efficiency. Getting the work done quick and smooth. Staying connected deeply with a smaller group rather than the whole company. Spending time with friends and family instead of colleagues and managers that you shared your time with the whole day. That is what they seek. Also, it’s a lot easier to be praised than to praise others. As a manager one must watch over other employees, make them do their job, give guidance when needed and not making anything sound like harassment, plus report all that to your boss. Sounds easier when I say “employee need to do what they are told.” Management needs training, but when one is assigned as a manager, training is not always provided. Promotion can result in more work with less guidance and more responsibility.
The other problem, work to live not live to work, is a mindset shared not only with the younger generation but those who are not in management.
We can also state this as the value of work in life is reducing. Spending time with families is now a more important task than to work long hours and make money. With more efficiency in work, more free time is made, and entertainment to fill in that free time is massively growing, so much that people don’t need to fill that blank with work related issues. More freedom and more greed, and the ways to fulfill that want, is driving people away from work.
Yet, people still work. They need to work in order to live their lives. With that, people start to value work less. Less overtime, less hard work. It’s not a question of good or bad, it’s just how it is with all the efficiency and change of value.
Thus with only the prize of an old fashioned promotion, no fish will bite on that bait.
And to top all that off, there is a recession in Japan these days. It might not be the most accurate to call it a recession, but with increasing consumption tax, the war between Russia and Ukraine, the COVID-19 virus damaging inbound spending, and the Yen dropping in value, prices of everything are increasing. Companies still have to pay for all they need, and that results to no raise in salary. The promotion itself without much of a raise just means more responsibility when proposed. Thus, that employee might choose to change companies instead of a promotion.