National

Google, ANA top workplace list for millennials; work-life balance also important: survey

by Beatrice Thomas

Staff Writer

Global internet giant Google, along with local firms All Nippon Airways and Toyota Motor Corp., have emerged as the ideal workplaces for Japanese millennial talent, according to a new survey that has spotlighted the nation’s shifting work culture.

The survey, which canvassed the attitudes and career goals of 10,394 students at 161 universities nationwide, found business students ranked ANA, Google, Itochu Corp., Mitsubishi Corp. and Apple as their top employers of choice.

For engineering, natural science and IT students, Google, Toyota, Sony Corp., Apple and Suntory led the pack.

The annual Top 100 Ideal Employers survey, by global employer branding firm Universum, found the next generation of Japanese workers viewed a work-life balance as their top career goal. Some 60 percent of respondents — and as high as 67 percent for females — ranked this as paramount, sending “a clear message to employers considering workforce diversity,” the survey said.

And despite Japan’s long-established lifetime employment system, the second- and third-most important career goals were working for a dedicated cause or greater good and pursuing an international career, respectively, with females again ranking both higher, the survey, carried out between November and April and released this week, found.

“Employers in Japan, who may have the reputation of overworking their employees, may start to find it harder to attract talent,” Joakim Strom, CEO Asia-Pacific of Universum, said by email from Singapore on Wednesday.

“Those who come in and offer a more balanced career may have an advantage.”

Strom said companies such as Google, whose branding had been boosted by the 2013 film “The Internship,” were well aligned with the millennial generation and were perceived to offer excellent work-life balance and other culture-related benefits.

However, rather than signaling a definitive shift away from Japan’s culture of overwork, Strom said the survey showed the desire for a better balance was symptomatic of this.

It showed what undergraduates wanted, “but not that they’ll actually achieve it,” he said.

In fact, the nation’s affinity for hard work is reflected in the survey, which found, uniquely to Japan, that the top employer attribute sought by respondents from 40 options was challenging work at 66 percent of business and engineering students. Respect for staff was second at 54.5 percent.

“Clearly Japanese talent does not want to be left bored or idle in their career and value self-development,” the survey said, adding that advertising firm Hakuhodo and Fuji Television Network were listed highest by business students for offering a challenge, while developer Mitsui Fudosan and Nippon Steel got the nod from student engineers.

Nevertheless, employers of millennials would need to be mindful of their community service responsibilities or risk losing talent.

“It is now more critical than ever for organizations in Japan to fully understand the preferences and expectations of their target group,” said Rachele Focardi, senior vice president at Universum.

“If they go on communicating what would have worked only a couple of years ago, or in other markets, they are bound to fail,” she said.

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