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Japan – Bilingual professionals increasingly unsatisfied at work

13 September 2013

Half of all bilingual professionals in Japan are unsatisfied with the progression opportunities offered by their current companies, according to the Robert Walters Employee Insights Survey. When considering new job openings, a set pathway to promotion ranks the highest amongst respondents, followed by opportunities for internal transfers locally or abroad. The 2013 Survey examined worker sentiment on career progression and international opportunities in a rapidly globalising Japanese market.

Rises in the number of new and replacement openings in Japan has created stronger worker sentiment and movement of professionals between companies. This activity is placing pressure on employers to not only attract, but also retain talented professionals.

According to the Survey, over half of respondents feel their current progression opportunities are either weak (30.5%) or very weak (26.2%). In contrast, less than one in ten workers would rate their advancement chances as strong (7.6%) or very strong (2.1%). One third of professionals (33.7%) feel their opportunities are adequate.

Nathaniel Pemberton, Associate Director for Robert Walters Osaka commented: "With low confidence for their advancement prospects, professionals will increasingly look to outside companies to further their careers. This is a troubling sign for employers as they will need to re-engage and reward their current staff to retain strong performers."

The survey also examined what type of career progression is most influential when workers consider a new job opportunity. Among the respondents, a set pathway to promotion is the most influential (41.1%). Companies that provide transfers to other offices, whether in Japan or abroad, also rank highly (31.2%), followed by employers who offer education and training programmes (25.5%). The least influential reason for joining a firm is whether a potential employer offers secondments to other departments (2.2%).

Mr Pemberton added: "Attracting staff to your organisation does not necessarily require strong financial incentives. More workers are taking a long-term view for their careers, so unsurprisingly many favour a transparent promotion structure that provides concrete goals to work toward. Internal mobility and training initiatives also rank highly amongst respondents, which is indicative of job seekers looking to position their careers favourably for the future."

Respondents to the survey were asked: How would you rate your company’s current career progression opportunities?
-- Very strong 2.1%
-- Strong 7.6%
-- Adequate 33.7%
-- Weak 30.5%
-- Very weak 26.2%

What type of career progression is most influential when you are considering a new job opportunity?
-- Set pathway to promotion 41.1%
-- Internal mobility (nationally or overseas) 31.2%
-- Education and training 25.5%
-- Secondments to other departments 2.2%

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