Because the Japanese traditionally honor lifetime employment, they go to greater lengths than in the US to hire the perfect employee for any given position, be it management or blue collar. In order to accomplish this, the Japanese firms form partnerships with local schools to begin vocational training as early as possible for students who do not intend to attend university. This type of grooming is not necessarily possible in other countries, and thus Japanese companies must make adjustments when hiring HCNs. In the United States, it appears these adjustments are at the expense of the job candidate. As noted in the case study, $13,000 on average is spent to assess every employee before they are even hired. The process can take up to 2 years from application to starting work with countless hours in between spent on the many rounds of assessment, trials and interviews. All told, only one in a hundred applicants ever receives a position.
Unlike in the United States, it is considered disloyal to abandon your company, and thus headhunting or poaching of employees has traditionally been taboo. This, however, is changing as younger Japanese employees are enticed by the financial rewards offered by competing firms. In Japan, executives receive a much smaller salary than their counterparts in the United States. However, they do receive a car, are reimbursed for expenses, and are granted entertainment and business gift allowances. While the salary of US executives is many times higher, these perquisites are generally not included. Japanese expatriate managers must contend with the particular schooling needs of employees’ children who must endure a particularly rigorous study regimen in order to prepare for their college entrance exams. The US is far more flexible in this regard, as entrance to university is far more accessible. Lastly, labor relations in Japan are far more cordial than those in the United States. Unlike in the US where unions and management are often at odds with one another, in Japan they view each other as companions who try to solve problems for their mutual benefit. Thus, strikes are far rarer in Japan. The idea of a strike contradicts the collectivist and conformist nature of the country.
2. What do you see as the basic advantages and disadvantages of each system? While US companies do not have the retention rate of firms in Japan, it is clear that the time and money saved in hiring employees, particularly non-managerial employees, helps to balance this out. Japanese firms’ relationships with vocational programs in secondary school is a tremendous advantage, as it allocates workers far more effectively, prepares workers at a younger age, and allows the firms to determine the strongest candidates early on in the process. If the US were to adopt this system, it is highly likely that we could fill many of the thousands of skilled labor jobs that are currently going unfilled, and thus lower the unemployment rate. US firms’ ability to headhunt and poach skilled managers, particularly those with international experience is a double-edged sword. When it works to a company’s advantage, it is a boon; however, if employees are not satisfied with their compensation, it can mean a devastating loss of time and money invested to the company. Labor relations is a very volatile