Working long hours to move up the job ladder is a lower priority for newly employed graduates in the nation, according to a recent survey published by the Japan Productivity Center (JPC).

The 50th edition of the annual research, released Thursday, showed that over 40 percent of young hires work in order to “live an interesting life” — a roughly 15 point increase from 20 years ago — while only 10.3 percent of new hires indicated that they aimed to secure a role as company president — a record low in the survey’s history.

The results are part of a decades-long trend of new graduates placing a stronger emphasis on maintaining a work-life balance, in a clear departure from perceptions of past generations who put in long hours to move up the corporate hierarchy.

“Promotion-oriented new workers have decreased over the years, not only for top jobs but also for other management positions,” said Mitsuru Shimomura, one of the researchers in charge of compiling the annual report, which polled 1,664 new graduates.

Part of the lack of motivation to move up the corporate ladder may come from new hires’ increasing propensity to change employers. Rather than toil at one company and move up the ranks, graduates appear increasingly willing to test the job market for better opportunities.

An April survey of new graduates conducted by Deloitte Tohmatsu Consulting Co. showed that new workers who wish to stay at their company indefinitely has decreased by about ten percentage points since 2015, standing at 53.8 percent in the 2018 survey.

The JPC survey also showed that the motivation for new graduates to outperform their peers has dropped in recent years.

Over 61 percent of respondents said that they are content to work similar hours to their peers, up from around 45 percent five years ago, while those who aimed to outwork their peers fell to about 30 percent.

The pressure to outperform peers may have decreased in recent years due to stronger economic conditions and a shrinking labor force, a situation that has given many workers the upper hand over employers.

The jobs-to-applicants ratio was 1.59 in April, meaning there are 159 job openings for every 100 workers, according to data from the labor ministry.

“The health of the economy is an important determinant of new graduates’ outlook,” said Shimomura. “Around ten years ago the economy was not good, so many people had a strong desire to work hard.”

“Now that the economy is good it is a seller’s market, so to speak. Thus, there is less will to work hard,” he added.

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