Japanese managers stressing out over expat professionals

Published:  6 Jan at 6 PM
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If you’re working as an expat in Japan, you may be stressing out your Japanese manager.

Over the past several decades, the numbers of Western expat professionals working in Japan for local companies have seen a significant increase.Japan’s relaxation of its formerly strict visa rules for skilled foreign professionals was originally aimed at combating the country’s falling birth rate and resulting shortages of labour. However, it seems encouraging Western immigration is having a less than positive effect on the Asian tiger’s home-grown managers.

According to a recent survey, one third of the 872 mid-level managers polled said they were suffering from intense stress caused by having to deal with expat employees. Foreign traits driving Japanese managers to despair include a lack of Japanese-style loyalty to the company, a lack of common sense, aggressive demands for more money and assertiveness in general. Another issue is that training foreign workers takes forever. Obviously, the above are all issues caused by the cultural aspects of working in Japan as against the cultural aspects of working just about anywhere else on the planet.

The country’s workplace ethics are strongly based in Japan’s fascinating history with, for example, the loyalty issue reaching back hundreds of years to loyalty to the local headman and to the Shogun ruler himself. Japan’s workplace culture is admittedly difficult for newly-arrived expat professionals, especially as it involves frequent unpaid overtime and a poor work/life balance.

However, many expat professionals are pointing out that Japan's Human Resources industry could and should be able to both integrate and manage the foreign expectations causing so much grief to local employers, most of whom are as yet inexperienced in dealing with essential foreign employees.
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