Japan second worst in G8 for employee satisfaction

By Cara Clegg

A recent survey of working conditions in the world’s largest economies reveals some interesting insights, as well as some that might not be so shocking to anyone who’s worked in said country.

No matter how high the Customer Satisfaction (CS) rating of a company, if the employees there are working under unsatisfactory conditions, you can’t exactly call it a good company, right?

The words “employee satisfaction” (ES) and “work-life-balance” and have been cropping up lately in relation to CS. But how many companies are actually striving to make sure their employees are satisfied?

The survey results have been compiled by the British-based Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD), who investigated working environments in each of the G8 and BRICS countries. The G8 group consists of France, the UK, Germany, Italy, Japan, America, Canada and Russia; BRICS includes Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa; this brings the total number of countries looked at to 12.

Here we have the G8 & BRICS Employee Satisfaction Rankings.

  1. Canada (G8) – 91%

  2. United Kingdom (G8) - 91%

  3. Germany (G8) - 86%

  4. Italy (G8) – 86%

  5. America (G8) - 86%

  6. Brazil (BRICS) -86%

  7. South Africa (BRICS) - 81%

  8. Japan (G8) - 81%

  9. France (G8) - 81%

  10. China (BRICS) -73%

  11. Russia (G8/BRICS) - 60%

  12. India (BRICS) – 39%

※The percentages indicate level of satisfaction

Any surprises there? Let’s take a look at Japan.

Japanese employee satisfaction in the workplace apparently stands at 81%. That doesn’t seem so bad, but then consider that it places Japan in 7th place out of 12 countries, and second worst out of the G8 countries.

Levels of employee satisfaction are closely connected to salary and balance between work and private life. Now, I’m not meaning to point any fingers here, but could Japan’s low rating be connected to its reputation for overworking its employees? I mean, there must be a reason Japan has a word ("karoshi") to mean death from overwork.

Other interesting conclusions drawn from the survey include:

-- Japan has the highest proportion of the elderly in the workforce. -- Around 20% of American companies let employees bring their pet to work. -- The average French lunch break lasts just 22 minutes. -- 46% of Russia’s senior executives are female – in Japan, it's just 5%.

Source: Business Owners Direct

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"Low rating"? Umm... 81% doesn't seem bad to me. I mean if these companies were democracies that would pretty much be a landslide victory. I can't think of a single country in the list where the government has that sort of approval level.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Frungy: Even 'anonymous' surveys in Japan can end up with negative results for the person who fills them out if it goes against the company and the company finds out. Panasonic employees have no choice but to vote for their local DPJ choice, and must only buy their company's products and nothing else. Likewise I have no doubt some of these people are actually not satisfied (of the 81%, I mean), but feel they have no choice but to say they ARE satisfied. That said, it still does not change the fact that Japan ranks 101 out of 125 countries in terms of how it employs females in the workforce.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Very interesting. But I doubt the credibility of this research.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

These ratings don't mean much. I am Canadian and we tend to always say things are great when they aren't. If this number is correct, the majority of my friends and myself are in the 9%.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

—The average French lunch break lasts just 22 minutes.

April Fool Joke ? It's surely no longer the 2 hour break it was when I live there, but 22 min as an average is just technically impossible.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

"The average French lunch break lasts just 22 minutes"

Damn, I missed this one yesterday. Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Panasonic employees surely can vote for who they like in the privacy of the ballot box?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Traditional Japanese companies are losing out to hip young Western companies like n terms of employee satisfaction.

Look at companies like and Google. These two companies are making ways to create quality, enjoyable workplaces in comparison to dull cube-like environments of SHARP and Panasonic.

The one Japanese company that is doing it right is Uniqlo and startup companies like myGengo. But things will change. Sony recent hired former employees to shape up the workplace since Kaz Hirai took over, and it showed with the recent E3 Press Conference (showing a more hip, friendlier, employee-happy and modern Sony). Let's see if other Japanese companies will follow Sony's uit.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A lot of Japanese employees seem to like being "overworked." It's like some kind of badge of honor.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

@Frungy Certainly a possible factor, but would that factor not be present in some extent in all countries once they find out about your choice?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

All these statistics, with exception of India and Russia, seem not to dismal.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Whaaat? Canada can't be 91%. More like 21%!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

In Japan, the norm is 12 hour workdays and reports,meetings,training etc all to be prepared at home

Yearly holidays of a week= more work at home

In Sweden a month long holiday (paid) in the summer is the norm....Japan surely is a hell!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japanese is terrible, 81%.... I find that hard to believe. brainwashed into working for free.... I'll never work for a Japanese company... Scoundrels!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Seems like every person I know who works in a regular "traditional"Japanese company environment hates their boss. This doesn't surprise me since the promotion priority in Japan is on getting the job done, even if that means being a maladjusted slave driver. If this trend (albeit still just in its infancy) of Japanese companies placing value on Employee Satisfaction continues, I think it will be good not only for my friends who hate the work aspect of their life, but for the economy in general.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Useless survey unless you take "unemployment rate" in to account. Past studies and analysis show that its unemployment rate which change definition of “employee satisfaction” and “work-life-balance” drastically. So stop crying and do your job.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You'd have to be a masochistic moron to work for a Japanese company.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

must only buy their company's products

Excellent point, Smith-san. - Panasonic should encourage staff to buy what they like, and share why.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

One has to consider the role of expectation in these surveys as well. If you are raised to expect for example 60 hour weeks, or consider some heckling from your boss a form of growth encouragement rather than a human rights violation, you can be genuinely satisfied with treatment that might provoke lawsuits elsewhere.

@Mike Critchley You might want to reconsider your word choices. "Promotion priority is on getting the job done" sounds too perfectly 当たり前, while emphasizing employee satisfaction sounds too much like 甘え, which is not what you wanted to say.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The average French lunch break lasts just 22 minutes.

They're obviously not counting the nap.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I don't believe these result. All but one of my close friends and relatives in Canada hates/dislikes their job. They all claim to be overworked and underpaid.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Mohammed: where did you get that "The one Japanese company that is doing it right is Uniqlo..."? Uniqlo is commonly recognized as a "Blacklist" company. OTOH, I guess it's also important not to jump on the J-bandwagon and say "blacklist!" just bc some j-staff don't like uniqlos work culture. But I don't think uniqlo is "doing it right" by simple virtue if being a number 1 apparel maker, by any means. They have a lot of internal issues and its a very unnecessarily over-the-top authoritarian workplace, extreme unpaid overtime as one key example.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The French have a 22 minute lunch break? I suppose they must eat lunch 5 times a day then. They also have a 36 hour workweek, and a month long vacation in the summer. Ever try to arrange a business meeting in France in July or August? Eveyone is out of town,

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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