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Japanese firms step up measures to keep employees healthy

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You want a horror movie? Here's one...

At the end of your work day, your company decides that they will now be in charge of your leisure and recreation (for your health.)

Now you have to come in one Sunday a month for "Special Team Company Relaxation Time".

21 ( +21 / -0 )

Spending, forced to spend even more time with co-workers outside of work time for a walk is punishment.

This. Companies think that a company trip or a sports day will be good for health, being stuck with the same people you work doesnt matter where it is, is not healthy.

Also, they forget that its not the physical health that is the problem, its the mental health that is the biggest issue. No company trip can solve that, just more free time at home will help.

20 ( +20 / -0 )

instead of forcing them to walk with their co workers they need to do 3 things: decrease the number of hours people work, have an actual Gym installed in one of the rooms for employees to use, and have a cafeteria where employees can buy healthy lunches for very cheap complete with a salad bar.

19 ( +22 / -3 )

Most of my male Japanese coworkers look like death warmed up. This is down to smoking, drinking canned coffee, and eating MSG-laden cup noodles for lunch. All the exercise in the world wouldn't make much difference against this trifecta!

17 ( +22 / -5 )

Let them to go home early.

17 ( +17 / -0 )

Having come back from striving to lower their body temperatures they will then be faced with a mountain of work that piled up when they were gone.....

16 ( +16 / -0 )

Raise my salary, cut my working hours, send me to Thailand once a year.

That'll work

12 ( +17 / -5 )

Exactly. Just give them enough personal/private time to enjoy personal pursuits. Maybe then a healthy lifestyle will NATURALLY occur.

Corporations always feign interest in the 'health' of their employees. But in actual fact, the corporations are just purely looking at this from a heartless liability point of view. It's easy to dress something like this as "We care", when actual fact, they rob Peter to pay Paul.

As Japan is apparently not a communist/socialist nation, why is every facet of people's personal lives and time so important to the corporation.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

This is typical of the Japanese "seen to be doing the right thing" mentality. I am not interested in facilitating this type of ridiculous, time-wasting activity.

A company is in business to make a profit and people work for the company so they can further their careers, dreams, experience - oh and they get to pay their bills, put food on the table and afford holidays etc. It is NOT the company's responsibility to provide relaxation/stress relief opportunities. Workers need to do that on their own time!

In Australia we do encourage "work-life" balance and that means we provide an opportunity for workers to balance their personal responsibilities and interests against what the company needs. As long as we get the job done - we're always happy to accommodate working models that suit employee needs. But this? No. Anything beyond the occasional team-building exercise is not on the table.

Grow up and take responsibility for your own life!

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Sounds silly to me. Walk without raising your temperature. They went outside for an hour but checked their pulses 3 times during that period. The they went indoors and talked about the pleasures of bathing.

I bet you these poor folk would been better off being allowed to stay home and relax.

11 ( +16 / -5 )

Japanese firms step up measures to keep employees healthy

Overtime: Now with less salt!

11 ( +11 / -0 )

participants are instructed to walk without raising their body temperature or pulse

And next they'll learn how to stack rocks with their minds, and raise X-wing fighters out of a swamp

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Changing the labor laws won't help, they are not enforced or taken seriously as it is. Spending, forced to spend even more time with co-workers outside of work time for a walk is punishment. Companies if they were serious would also pay for the spouse and children to attend. On their own, now that's relaxing.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Creating a balanced healthy lifestyle requires time. If you aren't home from work in time to take time, when will that healthy lifestyle be created? Even in a standard 8 hour workday, carving out time to relax, exercise, spend time with family members, engage in projects and enjoy some kind of social life is challenging. When workers are forced to put in the outrageous overtime required by Japanese companies, forget a healthy lifestyle. A company walk in the woods every once in a while doesn't cut it.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

I second Kawabega...they just like eating cup noodles and instant yakisoba for lunch! One of them was even rushed to the emergency (we thought it was a heart attack) turns out that the pain is from gall stones.

Another thing, some of the people I work with seem to don't have an outside life (out of work). Our annual leave is lose or use and they would rather sit on their desk all day long and stare at the computer than having a leisure time outside work...I just don't get it!

10 ( +11 / -1 )

I just read a book about maintaining your brain and body. First chapter was on exercise. How much? A 20-minute walk three times a week is enough. More is also good but not too much.

Second chapter was on stress. How to avoid it. First suggestion: Leave work at work.

So, Ordering workers to exercise/relax with Co-workers is a) adding to the stress and b) not giving them a regular short relaxing walk on a daily or thrice-weekly basis.

And, like all the other PR attempts at work-life balance BS, will quickly be forgotten.

Fail and fail.

DaDude,

I'd be smiling too if I didn't have to sit at my desk all day, work X number of hours of unpaid overtime, and take a super-crowded train home to a small box. Unless this all took place on Sunday which would seriously cut into my sleep time. (To get energized to sit at my desk all day.)

10 ( +10 / -0 )

AgentXToday 08:22 am JSTExactly.

Just give them enough personal/private time to enjoy personal pursuits. Maybe then a healthy lifestyle will NATURALLY occur.

Corporations always feign interest in the 'health' of their employees. But in actual fact, the corporations are just purely looking at this from a heartless liability point of view. It's easy to dress something like this as "We care", when actual fact, they rob Peter to pay Paul.

As Japan is apparently not a communist/socialist nation, why is every facet of people's personal lives and time so important to the corporation.

Funny you mention that, when i told my father back home in Aus about working conditions in Japan and how places will attempt to organize your free time with work activities he couldn't belive it.

His family had originally fled eastern europe after the iron curtain came down to avoid a communist system and he thought it reminded him eactly of the type of propaganda they used to spout.

domtoidiToday 09:42 am JST

Shame on Japanese companies for this.

(Are you happy now?)

Ugh no, people are criticising it becuse its clearly not changing anything, its just another bunch of BS where organisations in Japan want to look good in the public eye but in reality are terrible employers with crap working conditions.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Welcome to Dystopia... Now, smile!

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Japanese firms step up measures to keep employees healthy

Haha, that's total BS.

Sending a minuscule / tiny fraction of their staff on a one off walks. Its a token gesture and a PR stunt.

Want to make your staff healthier and happier?

Stop producing overworked, stressed out robotic drones... Demote or fire the waste of space 'old grey' brigade. Train staff to be productive and encourage them to think independently and critically. Treat them like adults and not children who need to be constantly supervised by the 'old grey' brigade. Promote based on performance / ability (not age or seniority). The work will get done faster and be more efficient. Then you can send your staff home at a civilized time to enjoy life with friends and family.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Really?! I suspect the company will make their employee work extra long hours to compensate for the time they went hiking...

8 ( +8 / -0 )

If I was expected to give up a Saturday to go trudging through the countryside making inane small talk with the people who blight my days from Monday to Friday, I would probably open a vein.

And I don’t understand why it’s so important not to raise your body temperature when as soon as I set foot in my office, I’m in an airless, sweaty 26 degrees all year round.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Haha, this is so Japanese! I often said Japan is one of the most naturally communistic cultures on Earth - this just adds weight to that idea.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

my company is VERY Japanese and had a keep-employees-healthy retreat. I was randomly chosen to go. It was an overnight thing, we listened to lectures and did activities UNTIL 11 PM!!!! Next day up at 6am to do more.

Spending the time at home would have been more relaxing physically and mentally...

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Nothing sells like an old wine in a new bottle, and this time it's not a fifty minute tramp (3km) in the countryside, it's

a ""Kurort health walk," named after the German word for a health resort where people can stay for a number of days. 

So did Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Himawari Life Insurance Inc. stay there for "a number of days" Can their employees take "a number of days" off when they feel like it?

My limited experience of company trips was watching the OLs trying to keep away from the older men, not unlike the photo above. Maybe its badly timed, but that guide's not setting much of an example. Head up, chest out is normally a given. Ue wo muite arukou! Arukou! watashi wa genki! etc. etc.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

"A company is in business to make a profit and people work for the company so they can further their careers, dreams, experience - oh and they get to pay their bills, put food on the table and afford holidays etc. It is NOT the company's responsibility to provide relaxation/stress relief opportunities. Workers need to do that on their own time!

In Australia we do encourage "work-life" balance and that means we provide an opportunity for workers to balance their personal responsibilities and interests against what the company needs. As long as we get the job done - we're always happy to accommodate working models that suit employee needs. But this? No. Anything beyond the occasional team-building exercise is not on the table.

Grow up and take responsibility for your own life!"

Finally someone got it right!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Just stop working 80 hours a week, drinking a case of beer and smoking 3 packs a night with your worker buddies and I guarantee you will feel much better.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

This sounds like one of those "company trips". I definitely could not relax walking with an arrogant boss or co worker

6 ( +6 / -0 )

So, a total of 553 companies have been acknowledged for this initiative. That is not very many out of the hundreds of thousands of companies in Japan. And, on the other hand, there are thousand of companies enslaving their employees to work copious amounts of overtime. I guess there is a little light in the long dark tunnel of working for a Japanese company.

5 ( +12 / -7 )

How about focusing on the individuals soul....

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Commuting to and from work by bicycle is one of the easiest ways to get in a bit of healthy exercise.

Unfortunately, most Japanese companies won't allow it.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

This sounds like another Premium Friday-esque way of improving the Japanese work culture: exactly 3 companies do it about twice and then we never hear about it again.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Shame on Japanese companies for this.

(Are you happy now?)

4 ( +6 / -2 )

It would be more beneficial to have a small gym and a shower in the office. A shower is also great if employees commute to work by bicycle, so they can refresh themselves.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

One hour 3km walk in a line, with insects, heat, radiation and all your work colleges? How about Friday night happy hour paid by the company. I worked in companies with such a system and it was great finish work at 4pm, then relax with your workmates until 6pm. Companies paid for beer and tea and snacks. At such a happy hour, staff can decide by themselves, "hey, tomorrow, do you wanna go to the beach, hiking?"

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Some great comments on this excellent thread!

This is just such a load of nonsense. I laughed out loud reading the article. All Japanese companies have to do is, just don't work your slaves err employees to death. Work hard 9 to 5, go home have a life, play with your kids, make love to your wife/girlfriend whatever. Simples.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

They needs to get insects protection sprays.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Of course in the future, this work/exercise will all be delegated to robots!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I am a keen advocate of finding solutions to balancing career business expectations and promoting personal family life.

For small medium size companies releasing staff to attend a fitness regime at some remote health farm is just not economically viable or practicable for customer commitments.  At the moment looking into setting up subsided 'in house' crèche facilities and flexible working are the key objectives.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It's ridiculous and pays lip service to staff welfare. How about decent work hours, minimum overtime and making taking your annual leave allowance compulsory.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Stop the work day at 5pm. They deserve their own lives back

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Many places in my area still run premium Friday campaigns, not sure about companies.

Recall working for one company Friday pub lunches extended till early evenings, at that time pub inside our division started.

We called the pub 'E.O.J.'. ;)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Recall going on company weekends to karuizawa, meetings all Saturday evenings were for preparing presentations on Sunday morning.

All in a resort hotel.

Took them 3yrs to adopt some of my suggestions.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Hey, you criticize but look at the faces of the employees walking in the picture smiling from ear to ear lol Now get up early and go look at all the gloomy faces heading to work in the morning. I bet you won't find even 10 people with a smile on their face. Yes, I am stereotyping, sue me.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Another thing, some of the people I work with seem to don't have an outside life (out of work). Our annual leave is lose or use and they would rather sit on their desk all day long and stare at the computer than having a leisure time outside work...I just don't get it!

Because they get paid for staring at the PC. I think this is one big hurdle on the side of the employee. Most people don't really do anything outside of work. If they weren't working overtime, many would likely still just play video games on their phone or watch tv. Relaxing sure, but not very healthy if in excess.

I just read a book about maintaining your brain and body. First chapter was on exercise. How much? A 20-minute walk three times a week is enough. More is also good but not too much.

I disagree. 20 minutes walk 3x per week is nothing. Even once a day is practically nothing. Personally I feel people should do at least 1 hour a day of exercise that makes you sweat and increases your heart rate. People are just lazy.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Going for a nice walk is more my idea of exercise than getting all sweaty. I'd be up for that.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

people who do not like exercise

The concept... just blows my mind.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Walking is a great exercise, was taught that from being young, swimming is another non-stress exercise ( both take time and endurance though if done correctly).

Try too keep my students below running, etc speeds. aka brisk walking pace. Back home we call it speed walking.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

If possible I walk 2-3hrs a day, good days I clock 6-7hrs(30+ km).

Still do 2hrs MA practice too.

Guess I don't need much sleep, walking plus listening to music during keeps me fit.

Can't do weights anymore but the ol' body still ,puts many youngsters to shame.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Change Japan's labor laws.... allow companies to hire full time workers and allow companies to lay them off if business slows down without having to pay them a massive separation bonus. If you need to lay someone off... pay them a week or two severance for every year they worked.... not a month or two for every year in severance. This is why they're overworked.... because companies are afraid to hire full time workers.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

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