ATTITUDES TO JOB SWITCHING:
Radical Change in Perspectives of New Employees
AUGUST 22, 1996
Job attitudes among young employees are undergoing a radical transformation. Although lifetime employment has been a hallmark of Japanese management practices for much of the postwar era, many of today's young workers no longer feel committed to staying with a single employer throughout their careers.
A survey conducted of new employees this spring by a private research organization revealed that only one in three male and one in five female university graduates intend to work for the same company until retirement.
The figures represent a huge drop from a survey conducted two years ago. Companies, too, are reexamining their hiring practices, and these trends together portend major changes in Japan's employment system.
31% of Males Opt for Commitment
The survey was conducted during February and March this year. A questionnaire was sent to around 37,600 university students about to enter the work force, and about 6,400 responses were returned.
In the survey, 31.2% of males who had secured positions that began in April expressed their intention to remain with the firm for the duration of their careers. This is 14.8 points lower than the figure from the previous survey conducted two years ago.
By contrast, the share of respondents who said they intend to switch jobs or start their own business in the future rose by 2.1 points to 17.8%. There was also a 12.6 point increase to 50.7% in the percentage of men who said that such prospects were conceivable depending on the circumstances.
The share of females who hoped to stay with their employer until retirement fell by 8.5 points to 20.4%. Those who said they want to change jobs or start a business edged up 4.1 points to 19.5%, while those who left such a possibility open rose 6.6 points to 58.0%.
Traditionally, more workers tended to opt for stability in times of recession. For instance, in surveys taken in 1988 and 1990--years when business conditions were buoyant--40.2% and 40.8% of male respondents, respectively, said they intended to put in a lifetime of service to their employer. This figure climbed to 44.5% in 1992, when the bubble economy burst, and to 48.0% in 1994 as the recession deepened.
The latest survey was conducted at a time when business conditions were still sluggish, and yet the figures fell dramatically. This is closely linked to corporate restructuring efforts; companies have increasingly been revising their lifetime employment practices over the past several years with a view to reducing personnel costs and improving productivity.
Typical measures include adjusting the seniority-based wage scale, introducing merit-based pay, and reducing white collar workers. Systems that encourage early retirement have been introduced, and companies are using more temporary and part-time workers.
These changes in corporate personnel management practices are having a big impact on the attitudes of young people about to enter the labor force. Many have reached the conclusion that seeking stable employment is no longer an attractive option and are actively seeking a more fulfilling future through job-hopping and venturing out on one's own.