Survey finds only 6% of Japanese workers motivated; 7th lowest in the world

By SoraNews24

A lot has been said about the quality of service in Japan, from companies’ polite and helpful staff to their remorse over even the slightest misstep…so I’m not going to bother saying any of it again.

You see, beneath all this is a troubling development in the spirit and mentality of the workforce in Japan. It’s a problem that has recently been brought to light by the Japan Business Federation in which the average worker in Japan simply isn’t engaged in their work.

Fittingly, the Japan Business Federation couldn’t be bothered to conduct a survey themselves, so instead they referred to a 2017 Gallup poll which measured work engagement in 139 countries. The motivation of company employees were rated as “engaged,” “not engaged,” and “actively disengaged.”

The USA and Canada came out on top with about 29 percent of workers “engaged” in their jobs. That might not sound like a lot, but it’s over twice the global average of 13 percent. Japan, meanwhile, is roughly half of the average with only six percent claiming to be engaged.

On the other hand, a whopping 71 percent are said to be “not engaged” and a further 23 percent “actively disengaged.” In terms of engagement, Japan was ranked 132nd, ahead of only Iraq (6%), Tunisia (5%), Israel (5%), Azerbaijan (5%), Hong Kong (4%), Croatia (3%), and Syria (0%).

So, what does this mean? The Japan Business Federation cited the Parento principle which states that 80 percent of effects come from 20 percent of causes. Applying that to these results, a country should hope to have about 20 percent of its workforce “engaged” in order to get a realistically optimal output.

In this way, countries like the U.S. could be seen as over-performing, whereas Japan is woefully shorthanded. Conversely, Japan’s “actively disengaged” population fits the Parento principle better, making it a driving force of inefficiency across the country.

All that explaining was way more work than I was planning to do today, so let’s hear what some random people in Japan have to say about it all.

“Most people just work to avoid starving, so they’ll do just enough not to get fired.”

“If companies would offer stability and the ability to retire, it would be very different.”

“It’s stupid. Even if you work hard and raise your salary, you’ll just get laid off when you’re too old to get another meaningful job.”

“If I don’t work, I don’t eat…”

“Being motivated isn’t all that great. I think some people are too motivated and dangerous.”

“The companies just keep stockpiling the money without increasing wages.”

“It goes beyond work, people aren’t even motivated enough to start a family any more. It’s too expensive.”

This demotivational trend certainly isn’t surprising anyone here. The cracks have been showing for a while now, from cops leaving their guns lying around in record numbers to convenience store franchisees rebelling against corporate owners for not sharing enough in profits.

Sources: Asagei Biz, Gallup, Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from Sora News24.

-- Study suggests Japanese workers are deeply distrustful of their employers

-- Only 11% of Japanese people “willing to fight for their country”

-- More than half of young anime workers live with their parents or receive money from them【Survey】

© SoraNews24

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

It's the Pareto Principle, named after Vilfredo Pareto, not the Parento Principle. A better job of editing would have improved an otherwise interesting article.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

I am quite sure that this lack of motivation extends to university and schools. Not much enthusiasm seen there either. Even usually pleasurable activities are reduced to pointless gaman.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Survey finds only 6% of Japanese workers motivated; 7th lowest in the world

Really?? I wonder why??

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Very informative article. Japan is a wonderful place to visit; beautiful hot springs, resorts, people are for the most part, kind to newbie foreigners, but to work, its a kind of hell.

Since work takes up the majority of our life, I dont get the point of living in Japan.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Japan could be a wonderful country for its people but there is a deeper problem, depending on who you talk to I guess, but it seems to be a problem to me, and its never going to change because its part of their culture.

The face saving image, the group harmony, is preserved and maintained at the expense of individual freedom or expression. This group sacrifice comes across to the outside world as something wonderful, but in reality, its not always that easy. Many outsiders just temporally enjoy the benefits of that sacrifice, but never have to participate in it. This often leads to a very skewed Japan experience that many outsiders tell the world about.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Don't worry the other 6% will soon have all their motivation driven right out of them.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

One reason for this is that Japanese people rarely pick a line of work because it interests them. I used to teach at a university in Tokyo, and I was always so disappointed when student after student ignored what their major was in favor of pursuing a practical job. People studying theater and philosophy and broadcasting shuffling off to safe desk jobs at insurance companies and trading firms. And then we wonder why they aren't motivated at work.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

A lot of this could be caused by the rampant bullying, psychological and often physical, done by bosses and senpais, which is an inherit part of culture.

If every day in office you see people getting screamed at, physically hit by objects, etc. I doubt you would be motivated either.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I assume some of those surveyed lied. 6% seems way too high for Japan

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Apathy. The result of mind control masquerading as education and media that is designed to convince people that there is nothing they can do about it anyway. "Sho ga nai!"

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The number is actually higher than I expected. Vast majority of Japanese workers are not motivated because there is no reason to be. You work long hours and stretch out your daily tasks, that cover 5 or 6 hours, to meet the extra hours you will work. Then, you are really only evaluated on the amount of hours you put in and not your actual production. You are promoted based on the amount of hours you work, your age, and what place in line you are for your promotion. So what motivation is there?

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Unmotivated but sort of a safe job vs motivated in an uncertain position. It shows the old risk aversion of the culture. You want happiness in the workplace, you need to change that attitude. A good challenge wakes people up & makes them strong.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Sadly this is unsurprising, I find the vast majority of Japanese are not happy unless everyone around them is sufficiently miserable....& most are just that sufficiently miserable.

As others have pointed out there is so so  many who instead , that's of following their interests just are ""happy"" to get a job at a ""good, well known"" company & its downhill from there. Well actually its downhill once you hit your teens that's when most hit the CRUSHING reality of bullying, sempai\kohai, sho ga nai & that killer of any motivation...…..gaman!

And if you are working in a big city the BRUTAL GRINDING commutes don't exactly help with well ANYTHING except turning you into a Zombie!

3 ( +3 / -0 )


People studying theater and philosophy and broadcasting shuffling off to safe desk jobs at insurance companies and trading firms

That is so true. I've come across so many postgraduate students in the natural sciences graduate, only to go work in these type of companies. They really have put a lot of effort into their studies and writing their theses. In many other countries, that field wouldn't be losing so many people.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Say you live in the US, and a pollster asks someone if that person is engaged in his/her job, directly or through a series of questions. I’m guessing an unengaged person will lie, not wanting the degree of the lack of motivation to be known.

In Japan, maybe the job is dull, or maybe the people are more honest. Is it a remnant of lifetime employment? No fear of being fired?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

""happy"" to get a job at a ""good, well known"" company & its downhill from there.

yeah I always thought of it like an inverse curve in Japan. You join the company lots of fake kindness then its a slow grind downhill; mutual misery, unproductive non participant member meetings and lots of outside smoking and watching the iphone. The zombies just hand over their minds to the sempai, and he controls what they learn. They tried that with me but realized it would not work.

Whereas in the West, its kind of a slope upwards, you arrive, must prove yourself, kind of hard at first, then your established. I guess the upside to Japan is there are few politics at work, and life time employment is still around.

GW is spot on with everything he posted. The train rides are exhausting also.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

You can really tell how low the figure is when you try and interact with service staff off script, the whole thing breaks down.

I wonder how the questions were worded though because they might mean slightly different things in different languages. If you phrased it as something that's based on personal volition of course Japanese people are going to say no, whereas if you phrased it as an obligation they'd all say yes I reckon...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites