Japan is otherwise known for its laborious workforce but long work hours may soon be going through a trend reversal. Due to the recent acute shortage of labor the country is experiencing, more and more companies are considering a 4-day workweek and an increasing number of companies are already implementing the change.
Although according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, this concept has not yet been widely accepted in the business environment with only 5.8% of Japanese companies implementing it, this number just might see a considerable increase in an effort of employers trying to keep their already existing employees satisfied and content.
According to Ms. Junko Sakayama, a Tokyo-based senior economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute, the labor shortage has become so bad that companies cannot fill openings only with part-timers.
The number of full-time workers in Japan is on a rise since the global financial crisis and although it might be too early to declare a trend reversal, the number of regular jobs grew by 260,000 in March from a year ago according to the Internal Affairs Ministry.
One of such companies launching a 4-day workweek is Yahoo Japan Corp., which started the change in April. According to a spokesperson, it is too early to know what exactly the challenges are but the president of the Japan office, Mr. Kentaro Kawabe said of his employees, “I want them to have time for themselves outside the office in order for them to work more creatively.”
The 4-week workweek was initially aimed at workers who care for children or family but according to a public relations officer, it is being used by an increasing number of employees, both female, and male.