TROUBLESHOOTER / I’m tired of working at firm with lots of overtime, parties

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a male company employee in my 20s, and I have some doubts about my workplace. I started working at this office in spring. At first, I left the office on time and turned down invitations to drinking parties with my colleagues.

But during an interview with my boss, I was told to talk with my senior colleagues. The boss meant I should attend such parties, so I began going once in a while. On such occasions, I always got lectured or had to listen to the complaints of other departments. I’m just impatient listening to such things.

In addition, my firm thinks it’s normal not to pay for overtime, so I only get a small allowance for overtime work. I hate working overtime, so I come into the office two hours before the start of the business day. But I often have to work after hours or attend a party.

Other employees also go to these parties, and they do unpaid overtime work. However, they take a lot of cigarette breaks.

There are no young employees in my company, so nobody seems to prioritize having a private life — which makes me really tired. I know that our 20s are the time to gather life experience, but I’m not sure if I can live like this.

Y, Tokyo

Dear Mr. Y:

You’re working at a firm where employees work overtime without pay, take cigarette breaks and have get-togethers after work — exactly like a traditional Japanese company decades ago.

Employees value their relationship with their coworkers, sacrifice their personal life to the company and work until retirement age. There are people who like to work that way, but you don’t, do you?

Frankly speaking, I think you should consider changing jobs. I say this for two reasons.

In our globalized society, the typical way to work is to do our jobs while also putting importance on our private lives. If your situation goes unchanged, I can’t help thinking that your capabilities will be buried.

An increasing number of companies want to hire workers who think the same way you do. I think you’ll have more opportunities to play an important role in a different workplace.

Another reason is that companies where employees keep working in the old ways won’t have much of a future. More companies are seeking to abandon long working hours and introduce meaningful ways of working, following the introduction of work-style reforms by the government. It seems your office is being left behind amid the current trends.

It would probably be hard to change jobs right away, but I recommend you put up your antenna to find another workplace while doing your current job diligently.

Masahiro Yamada, professor

(from Nov. 17, 2018, issue)Speech

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