After Panasonic and Nippon Denki, the computer and telecommunications giant better known abroad by the acronym NEC (for Nippon Electric Company), it is the turn of the Hitachi group to introduce flexible working hours for all its employees to allow them to work only four days a week. A measure officially supported by the Japanese government but which is far, for the moment, from unanimous support in the country of the Rising Sun, reports the FinancialTimes.
Stated objective: to finally succeed in boosting national productivity. Because according to this criterion, Japan has invariably ranked for fifty years last of the G7 countries despite the working hours “exhausting” supported by Japanese employees.
The weight of traditional culture
“It’s urgent, writes the economic daily. Because since 1995 the population of working age has fallen by 14%. Many companies have given up on retiring their employees at 65 and last year the electronics retailer Nojima even abolished the retirement age limit set at 80… Retaining their employees is increasingly expensive to Japanese companies.”
But here it is: the four-day week hits hard against the traditional work culture in a country where most employees identify with their company and are ready to sacrifice their family life to it. “Government campaigns to get Japanese people to take more holidays have always failed in the past,” remind him FinancialTimes.
In addition, it is not certain that the introduction of shorter working weeks alone will make it possible to significantly improve the productivity of Japanese employees. Some studies rather point to the harmful role of group spirit and the stubborn search for consensus, explains the journal. Not to mention the cost of measurement for small businesses “where the absence of a single employee can compromise production or affect the quality of service”.