For Japanese companies, we conduct various company events in order to enhance communication between employees and to motivate employees. The reason is that it is common to think that only professional relationships cannot create deeper relationships and that it affects work as well.
However, in the West such as the United States, the relationship of work in the workplace is only on the job, the idea that work and private are separate is common.
So, I think foreigners working for Japanese companies for the first time will get a culture shock by knowing these company events. Indeed, it can be said that various company events are unique habits born from Japanese business culture.
This time, while introducing various company events of Japanese companies, I will also explain the background of their being born.
1. Drinking party in the department
The drinking party in the department is held most frequently as a company event. If new recruits or mid-career hires join the company, a welcome party will be held, and a farewell party will be held for those who retire. Farewell party for those who was on the key position inside the company may also be held by the company as a whole. On the other hand, it is usual that a farewell party will not be held if you quit because you have some trouble with the company or colleague. Recently, with the rise in the employment rate of women of child-raising generation and the number of young employees giving priority to private rather than company events, the trend that many of companies are going to shift from the company event held at night to the luncheon held at lunchtime is getting higher.
2. Year-end party and New Year’s party
This is also typical company events of the many Japanese companies. Even if it is said to be voluntary participation, all employees must answer whether attendance or absence. In case of absence, you have to explain the reason. It is no exaggeration to say that it is a compulsory participation named free participation.
3. Company trip
Company trips were held by many Japanese companies until about 20 years ago. Since the collapse of the economic bubble economy, there have been many companies that gradually abolished their company trip because the management of general corporations became tight. In the company that I worked for before, all employees saved money every month for company trip, but the company finally abolished it a few years ago. However, some Japanese companies are reviewing company trips, and there may be times when many Japanese companies go to company trips again.
4. Sports festival
In the sports festival within the company, there is an advantage that not only employees but also family members of employees can participate. It seems to be quite highly appreciated by companies that conduct sports festival every year, but there seems to be few Japanese companies that are still adopting.
5. Rice cake making festival
At a company I know, all employees take part in a rice cake making festival as a year-end company event. Since many women of the company have to dip glutinous rice in water from the previous day to make rice cake, the burden on women seems to be big. Still, the rice cakes made with pestle and mortar are exceptionally delicious, so the employees bring home the fresh rice cake.
6. Cherry-blossom viewing
Some companies go to cherry blossom viewing from late March to early April. From a foreigner’s perspective, you will be surprised at eating lunch or drinking under cherry blossoms as a company event. In addition, you may not be able to think of “place taking”, to take a place to see cherry blossoms from the previous day.
7. Inari festival
This company event may be unique to the company that I worked on before. Every employee gathers twice a year in front of a shrine located on the company premises. A chief priest of shrine gives a celebration to wish for the health and safety of our employees and the prosperity of our company. After that, in accordance with the chief priest of shrine, all employers and employees perform Ni-hai Ni-hakushu Ippai (Twice bowing, twice clapping and one-time bowing).
In the Japanese companies, many company events are held frequently. However, in recent years, more employees have the idea of “to divide work and private time”. From now on, as foreign workers increase more and more, I think it is important to plan company events where employees want to voluntarily, not mandatorily.
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