New recruits quickly get reality checked

January 20th, 2010 by Philip Brasor & Masako Tsubuku

The survey doesn't ask how new grads feel about wearing cheap suits

The survey doesn’t ask how new grads feel about wearing cheap suits

Nihon Seisansei Honbu, a research center that specializes in productivity, has carried out a survey since 1991 among recent college graduates who have entered the work force. They hand out the questionnaires twice a year, once in the spring just as new grads are starting work in their shiny new suits, and a second time six months later after the same shakaijin (members of society, which is what you are called once you actually enter the work force) have had a chance to see what the working life is all about.

In 2006 the survey started including a statement that went something like “I don’t need more money than others my age as long as I am making enough to live on.” Last spring, only 36.2 percent of those surveyed gave an affirmative response to this statement, but six months later the percentage rose to 41.7 percent, the highest it’s ever been. Granted, negative responses were higher, 52.9 percent, but Asahi Shimbun, for one, analyzed these results as meaning that the longer these people were on the job, the more they realized how precarious their situation was. Being employed wasn’t a guarantee.

An even more interesting question in the survey was “Do you prefer a pay system based on age and seniority?,” which we assume could be appended with “as opposed to one based on merit?” About half the respondents answered yes, another high.

Of course, what this survey doesn’t measure is how many people quit their jobs after only a month or two in the “real world,” a phenomenon known as gogatsu-byo (May syndrome), or a year later, a phenomenon known as shichi-go-san (7-5-3), a pun on the custom of dressing children in their first kimono. In this case it refers to the general rule that a year after newbies start their first job, the attrition rate for junior high graduates is 70 percent, that for high school grads is 50 percent, and for university leavers it’s 30 percent. That would be an even more revealing survey question.

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