Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Workplace Transfers: 異動

One big difference between Japanese and Western workplaces is the common nature of transfers. In order to support traditional values of inter-connectedness, Japanese companies shuffle their employees around to different departments and regions every 1 to 5 years. The goal of these transfers is to create employees with a broad skill base and an overall understanding of how everything in the company works.

Every April, big Japanese companies scoop up a bunch of fresh faced 22-year-old graduates from the best universities in the nation. This is called 新卒採用 (shinsotsu saiyou). Unless hired to work in R&D, the educational background of these students is irrelevant, because they spend the next four months in training. They live in a secluded company dorm, eat at a cafeteria, take classes, attend seminars, and must pass tests, all to make up for the fact that [LINK]they didn't learn anything in university.

During training, supervisors watch the new employees carefully and note which areas each individual excels in. Once training is finished, these supervisors meet and assign each employee to a job role according to the company's needs. The new employee can be sent to any department in any branch of the company around Japan (or, if the company has international offices, around the world).

But, it doesn't stop there; a few years down the line, when the new employee is getting accustomed to their current job and company environment, 異動 (idou) time rolls around. The employee can be reassigned to a new job, a new department, and even a new region. Of course, the employee always reserves the right to refuse (by quitting). But subservience to the company's will is the price of the [LINK]lifelong compensation package Japanese companies offer.

Working Guide

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