Japan rethinks work life balance, Karoshi is killing them

We are always fascinated by the Japanese culture which encourages a broad value system compromised of pride, respect, and honor. It isn’t that these metrics are not present in other cultures but these are more highlighted in Japanese culture.

Raised with such a culture, Japanese workers are the 10th hardest working in the world. People in japan have a tendency to sleep during their train commutes and do not waste a single minute of their life. But this trend of overworking has caused many unfortunate incidents in the country. Karoshi is a term that means death from overwork. Many people fall victim to this overworking habit in Japan.

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A 24-year old Matsuri Takahashi is the recent victim of karoshi. She used to work for the Japanese ad agency Dentsu and was reported to have worked 105 over time hours in one month. She didn’t let anyone one know about her situation at work but expressed her actual feelings on her Twitter’s account. At 4 a.m she stated that her body was trembling and was so tired of work that she almost felt like dying. Because of the work stress, Takahashi jumped from the company’s dormitory last year around Christmas. Because of this incident, the president and CEO of Dentsu Tadashi Ishii is reported to be resigning this March.

Japan’s government is trying hard to change the cultural attitudes of its people towards work. The Prime Minister Shinzo Abe launched a work style reform earlier this year. This panel will pursue the Japanese workers to take time off more often. Private companies have started to lead this change within their working environments.

Workers at Dentsu are forced to take at least five days off every six months. For urging people to lead home, the company shuts down the lights at 10 p.m. whereas the other companies have shifted their allowable overtime hours at 5 a.m. the early comers are given a light breakfast in the offices and are given the same extra wages that they were given at night times.

But for the sake of public health, the country will have to take bigger reforms. According to a report, more than 20% people in a survey of 10,000 claimed that they worked in a month they work 80 hours over time. Because of the overwork, people attempted suicide, suffered heart failures, heart attacks, or stroke. All these were the result of excessive stress taken by Japanese workers. The companies in the country are now encouraging people to work less. Saint-Works, a Tokyo-based nursing care business has made its employees to wear purple capes that display the time to leave their office. This is an effort to make everyone sure not to work when the day is over.

The research suggests that the companies should encourage people to work less as extra time spent on tasks does not equate to any extra output. Over working makes people more burned out. When the meetings are extended to longer hours, people are no longer in a position to think creatively or be productive. Work only becomes productive when it is balanced out with a worker’s private life.

Via: Business Insider

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