Compared to other countries, the proportion of those who say they do not enjoy their work is remarkably high in Japan. TheInternational Social Survey Programme (ISSP) conducted by NHK Broadcasting Culture Research Institute in 2005 shows Japanese employees’ job satisfaction level is among the lowest in the world.


In 2005 when the survey was held, Japan was in the middle of a steady economic growth. That means people were not happy with their jobs despite the strong economy at that time, so the situation would be worse today. The survey analyzes the result and explains why the level of job satisfaction in Japan is that low.

Factors that are positively correlated with a job satisfaction level include a challenge that enhances self-growth, good relationship with co-workers, supervisors or bosses and a sense of pride in the company (workplace). On the other hand, stress at work is negatively correlated with a job satisfaction level.

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–      Only a fraction of employees regard “promotion” or “independence” as important

–      People who work in the professions tend to have a lower job satisfaction level and be unhappy with their performance

–      Despite the large proportion of employees who are stressed out at work, quite a few of them consider leaving the work

I assume employees in Japan who do not enjoy their work feel they are being used by their company, so it is almost impossible for them to take control over what they do at work. Since labor mobility is not great in Japan, a job-change is quite difficult. As a result, they are trapped in a vicious circle. Although they have communication problems at their workplace or find their tasks not interesting at all, they cannot get out of the situation and do something. Being afraid of losing a job, they stay in the unhappy work environment and continue to accumulate stress.

The survey has also found that the percentage of employees who worry about getting fired is among the highest in the ranking despite the strict regulations on personnel dismissal Japan. That means Japanese companies do not dismiss employees officially, but many employees think they have to leave when they “lose jobs” within the company or are required to quit voluntarily.


It seems like a catch 22 situation. Under the circumstances, what could be a breakthrough?


Seeing many people being suffocated in such a situation, I have conducted a personal research at various companies and reached a conclusion. I found the most effective way to release stress is finding something that you can be passionate about. To be more specific, let me give you a list of things to do.


  1. Embark on a job-hunt

As an employee, it is nearly impossible for you to handle the situation as you like, which is one of the most primary causes for stress at work. It is particularly true when you suffer from communication problems at your workplace. You never can replace your boss or team members as you wish even though you cannot get along with them.


The largest number of employees I had asked said the best way to improve the situation was to start a job-search. Registering your name on job-search sites and researching various companies could change your mood. When only thinking about your current company, the situation might seem hopeless. But looking at other companies will give you a broader perspective to see the current matters you are struggling with. Of course, you can actually change your job if you find a truly interesting one.


One thing I would not recommend is to start job-hunting after you lose your job. Being urged to find the next job, you won’t be able to look at companies that freely.


  1. Participate in volunteer activities

A lot of people join volunteer activities not because they really seek social contribution but because they want to have a different world besides work. In fact, many of the participants say they came to find something interesting because they had realized their limitations at work. Meeting those people will be inspiring and in addition, what you do will certainly contribute to society. That will be a good opportunity to re-acknowledge that there is something more valuable than accomplishing tasks at work.


  1. Be creative. Have a side job.

As I have written in the article entitled “The only reason why I recommend making extra cash on a sideline job”, you can be very creative in your sideline job because it can be managed all by yourself. In addition to some extra cash, the benefit is much greater than you imagine. You will improve your skills, become more proud of what you do, and receive direct evaluation for your accomplishments. If you think you lack those opportunities in your current work, try a sideline job. A new task will decrease your stress and lessen the pain in the current job. Uploading a movie on Youtube, launching a blog, drawing illustrations, starting programming…, anything could be your side job. Start something and show it to others. A small step forward will become a huge change in life.


  1. Exercise

There is tons of evidence that shows physical exercise releases stress. Instead of staying at home being trapped by a vague feeling of uneasiness, go outside and join some sports activities. Through team sports, you will meet new people and get inspired by them. If you participate in a sports competition, you will clearly see the result of your efforts.


I am a road bike rider. I enjoy road biking alone as well as in a group. The various people I see at a road biking competition really expand my world. For me, this is such a precious chance to meet new people besides work.


  1. Treasure ties with people

Although you have met a great deal of people, you probably do not see them very often. I suggest you do not hesitate to go and meet such people. Teachers at high school or university, co-workers who have gotten transferred, baddies you exchanged email addresses at some event, old friends you just send and receive greeting cards now, etc. have a different life from yours. Find their phone number or email address in your old address book or on the back of the greeting cards in the cabinet. When you contact them, they will also be get connected with you again.


  1. Read books

A book opens a door to another world, giving you something unattainable at work. You don’t have to push yourself to read so-called self-improvement books or business books. I recommend you read truly amusing novels. As a first step, choose one from the list of 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime released by Amazon. If you find it boring, stop reading it and reach the next one. You will find your best novel in the end.

A lot of people say, “A book totally changed my life”. You will join them soon or later.


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