“Salary thieves!” “Incompetents!”
The old are intolerable. They slow things down, screw things up, deck themselves in impressive titles, draw bloated salaries – and for what? For keeping everybody else – the energetic, quick-witted, well-adapted, competent, idea-generating young – down?
So it seems, says Spa! (Sept 20-27) in an outspoken piece whose title pulls no punches: “People in their 50s are destroying the company.”
Polling 200 company employees in their 30s and 40s, Spa! finds 114 of them – 67% – replying affirmatively to the question, “Are there people in their 50s in your company who qualify as useless baggage?” That’s a high but not overpowering proportion. More striking is the anger and seething frustration they vent as they speak. Here’s a random selection of comments:
“They (older workers) have no IT skills, and zero desire to learn. They have junk for brains.”
“They think they know their jobs. If you point out a mistake they snarl at you.”
“They’re so busy thinking about their ‘second lives’ (i.e. post-retirement) that they have no time left for this life.”
“They stick us (younger workers) with all the unpleasant jobs.”
Yes, it’s galling to find yourself accountable to bosses who know less than you do, titled executives who gloat over past success without realizing how far they’ve fallen behind, high-salaried drones who don’t seem to reflect what they’re costing the company, and how little they contribute to it.
The roots of the pay imbalance go back to the bubble days of the 1980s, Spa! explains. In that vibrant economy, now a dim memory, promotions and pay raises came automatically with seniority. That’s the system older workers started out under. Some of them still work under it. The gradual switch to merit pay, still underway, began in the 1990s. Length of service is no longer enough; it’s quality of service that matters. Older employees who still coast along on the old system may not be aware of the widening gap between themselves and their subordinates, who really have to work for a living and who often feel that even their best efforts are not duly rewarded.
There’s truth in all this, but it’s not the whole story. “Akio Takeda” (a pseudonym) is 56, has an executive position with a clothing manufacturer and a salary (10 million yen a year) that employees 20 years younger may well envy – they doubt they’ll ever earn as much.
Would they envy him otherwise, though?
Certainly he came of age in better times. “The economy was strong, bonuses flowed in three times a year, and the third one would be worth a million yen,” he recalls wistfully. I took the test for department-head rank, and became my company’s youngest department head ever.”
Then came misfortune. The bubble burst, the firm downsized. He and numerous others were farmed out to subsidiaries, their wings clipped. “Before,” he says, “I was earning 15 million. Now I earn 10 million. Before I had 200 subordinates. Now I have 10.”
Does he dump his own routine chores on underlings? He admits he does. The overall picture is, “Work no longer interests me. I have no hopes, no dreams.”
Well, maybe one dream. “Maybe when I retire I’ll use my severance pay to start a business.” However, “It’s all pretty vague.”© Japan Today