The culture of over work has become a national disease/cause for concern in Japan. To such an extent that the Government is urging firms to give employees Monday mornings off once a month . ‘Shining Monday” is just the latest attempt to improve the country’s poor work - life balance. A culture of excessive hours is impacting on the nations health, undermining family life and is seen as ultimately bad for the economy.
This latest government initiative follows on from the introduction, last year, of “Premium Friday” where employers are encouraged to allow employees to clock off early.
Leading by example last week the governments Economy, Trade and Industry ministry allowed a third of their staff to come in to work after lunch on Monday. Officials later reported this had not harmed the ministries work.
Yet again an example of reduced hours actually increasing productivity as sickness and absenteeism is reduced and refreshed and energised workers do more in less time and make fewer mistakes.
In this country more traditional employers have yet to be convinced. They have chosen to address the problem of high levels of absenteeism by introducing a more punitive culture ignoring the impact on individual’s health, family life and gender equality. The result “presenteeism “, people at work who are too ill but too afraid to have time off.
Rather than wait till the situation is so bad that as in Japan the Government needs to step in those business that act on international HR research can learn the lesson and gain a competitive edge.
Blair Mcpherson former director, author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk