A growing number of Japanese companies are abandoning longtime employee care policies such as seniority-based salary systems and subsidized housing, according to a think tank survey released Monday.

Of the 372 companies polled by the nongovernmental Institute of Labor Administration, 34 percent said they have adopted an annual salary system, up 12 points over the previous survey in 1997.

As for subsidized employee accommodations, the number of companies providing houses or apartments at no cost or lower than market value declined sharply by 15 points to 46 percent.

Trends such as these are indicative of new management strategies that focus on cost-cutting and maintaining competitive workforces rather than rewarding loyalty, the institute said.

But Kazunari Tamaki, an attorney who specializes in labor issues, warns that such changes are just the beginning of a trend that sees greater workloads placed on employees, leading to highly competitive work environments and spiraling stress levels.

According to the poll, rewarding senior employees who have worked for a single firm for decades remains relatively common, with 71 percent of companies still honoring these workers. But that number dropped by 16 points over the 1997 survey.

The Tokyo-based institute sent the questionnaire to 3,800 companies between January and March, of which 372 responded.

At 64 percent of the firms, management has adopted performance-based systems under which employees must set target business figures, with wages and promotions linked directly to achieving those goals, the poll indicated.

Regarding stress management, 17 percent said they offer employees counseling. But the number with a payment scheme in place for death from overwork, or “karoshi,” numbered just 4 percent of the total.

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