Article: Understanding Japan’s aversion towards side jobs

Strategic HR

Understanding Japan’s aversion towards side jobs

Understanding why having a side job in Japan isn’t popular and discussing the results of a recent Japanese survey on the subject.
Understanding Japan’s aversion towards side jobs

A recent survey has reiterated Japan’s aversion for employees to have side jobs. A survey by the Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training, a government-funded organization, revealed that as much as 75% of the companies in the country have no plans to allow their workforce to undertake a side job. The survey, which collected answers from 2,260 organizations with 100 or more employees and 12,355 individuals, has put in perspective the strong opposition the country has to the very concept of having a second gig outside of a regular job. 

  • As per the survey, 75.8% of the companies were not in favor of their employees having a side gig; only 11.2% allowed them, and another 8.4% were still deliberating. 
  • The biggest reason why organizations do not want their employees to take on another job (82.7%) is the burden of overwork might interfere with their performance. Others said that managing employee hours will become difficult if side jobs are allowed (45.3%).
  • From the employee perspective as well, 56.1% of the respondents did not wish to take on a side job besides their regular job. However, 23.2% did wish for a side gig, and 13.8% even wanted more time and flexibility for their existing side projects. 
  • The biggest reason why individuals want to take on more work is to increase their income (85.1%).
  • On the other hand, for those who have no inclination to take up a side gig, possible negative impact on their main job (61.6%) and spending time with their family and friends (56.5%) were the biggest reason for the same. 

The results of this survey assume significance in Japan because earlier this year, the government had set guidelines and working regulations that asked companies to permit their employees to hold side businesses or work in multiple jobs at once. Traditionally, Japanese are extremely hard-working employees and are one of the most sincere workforces in the world. So much so, that cases of actually dying from overworking are fairly common. Employees demonstrate their loyalty and dedication to their employer by working long hours, normally beyond what they are expected to. In this context, it is understandable why Japanese firms are skeptical of allowing their already overworked employees to take up more work. 

However, the changing priorities of the workforce have forced the government and businesses to consider these questions. While the practice of full-time employees holding multiple jobs simultaneously is not a common sight in Japan, people increasingly want the choice to do so, as is evident by the results of the survey.  This can be a moment of reckoning for both employees and employers to analyze the unhealthy work culture present in the country and work towards remedying the same.

In the near future, however, one can expect the workforce, or at least a section of it, to be more vocal about demanding the right to have a side gig. But if the findings of the result are anything to go by, the demand is likely to be ignored. 

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Topics: Strategic HR, #GigEconomy

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