One perk of many Japanese companies is company events. These events usually include employee travel, drinking parties, cherry-blossom viewing etc. Furthermore, unique in-house events are increasing recently, such as awards ceremonies, overseas events, athletic festivals, and so on.
What is the purpose of company events?
You may be thinking, “why do I want to spend my time at my company outside of working hours?” Well, here are some reasons many Japanese companies emphasize the importance of in-house events.
- To facilitate communication between employees
- To integrate the organization of the company
- To listen to the opinions of employees
What are these events like?
Athletic festival (運動会, undō-kai)
Athletic festivals are just for young students, right? Not necessarily. In some companies, athletic festivals are held to encourage employees to exercise. At large companies, there can be thousands of employee participants. Athletic festivals are a surprisingly popular event because they promote healthy living and are a fun reminder of life as a student.
Company trip (社員旅行, shainryokō)
A company trip promotes communication because employees spend a long time together under unusual circumstances, so they have many chances for friendly conversation and bonding. This is the main reason for conducting the company trip.
The biggest benefit of travelling as a company is that the company takes care of all the arrangements. So all you have to do is relax and enjoy! Also, you need to take paid vacation days to travel on your own. However, depending on occupation it is sometimes difficult to take many days off in a row. There’s no need to worry about that with employee travel.
A company trip is often used as a reward for successful work, and better results means a more lavish vacation. However, there are fewer and fewer companies that are conducting company trips now because of budget constraints and other circumstances.
Social gatherings with all employees (懇親会, konshinkai)
Many companies hold simple get-togethers including all employees of one team or department because there is no need for large preparations and budgets as much as a company trip.
There is often a large annual social gathering where all the employees gather with entertainment or games prepared by each branch office or department. Many employees are looking forward to it because the color and personality of each branch office are expressed every year.
Cherry-blossom viewing and barbecue (お花見, ohanami, バーベキュー, bābekyū)
Cherry-blossom viewing is also a standard company event. Sometimes the event is held at night after work, but more often during the day or on weekends. It is popular because you can join and enjoy the pink petals together with yours and your coworkers’ families.
Similarly, a lively barbecue is another fun outdoor event. Since eating is the main activity, most people don’t mind to attend even on national holidays. It is a good event to welcome new employees to the company.
Awards ceremony (表彰式, hyōshō-shiki)
This event honors a department’s or person’s good performance. The ceremony is often a big deal, held at a banquet hall or fancy restaurant. Giving awards for effort at work on a daily basis can greatly enhance employee motivation. It is essential to not only recognize the results of visible work such as sales, but also to highlight positions where results are not easily expressed in numbers.
I introduced a number of company events that are fun and motivational. Besides this, there are also companies that have baseball, soccer, or tennis clubs for employees to play sports together after work.
The idea that it is important to deepen mutual ties between employees through communication outside of work is not unique to Japanese companies. But Japanese companies might have more company events than you are used to, that will take up some extra time outside of work hours.
I recommend to anyone thinking about finding a job or changing jobs in Japan to check the job description for information about a company’s events, as well as corporate philosophy and job contents. You might find that they have a club for a sport you like, or other activities you want to try.
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