Trivia: Why do Japanese people stay in one company for their whole career?

Mar 15, 2021

Q.

Why do Japanese people stay in one company for their whole career?

A.

The majority of the Japanese people join a company right after they graduate from university, and they stay at the same company until they retire. Why is this the case?

A lot of traditional Japanese companies are hierarchical. This means the longer you stay and the more seniority you gain, the higher your salary becomes. If an employee chooses to change to a different company, he would have to start from the bottom of the ladder; so, it’s more lucrative to stay.

When you enter a company in Japan, a lot of the big companies will assign you to a department. It is not unusual to be unaware of what department you will be working in when they hire you. The company will move you across Japan to different branches every few years, and they will change your department as well. This can be surprising for many people outside of Japan, but because of this system, employees get to experience different fields. Employees don’t get bored of staying at the same company as there is always a change every few years.

However, things are changing. Thanks to the rising trends of work-life balance, Japanese people have been seeking more freedom with career change. People are starting to change companies in the middle of their careers to focus on building their skills, and a lot of young companies are hiring new people with specific skill sets.

Do you think you could stay at one company your entire career? Why or why not?

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