June 2015 BCCJ Event Recap: Generation Gap Japan

photo: BCCJ

Recap: British Chamber of Commerce of Japan (BCCJ) event

Generation Gap Japan – June 16, 2015

Moderator: Suzanne Price, CEO at Price Global
Panelist: Ken Takai, Business Director in Japan, Hays
Panelist: Karyn Twaronite, Global Diversity & Inclusiveness Officer, EY

Recap by Saya Matsumoto, FEW Ambassador

Millenials as consumers have been a topic and area of interest for many companies and businesses, especially as they take over the market and the workforce. How can companies connect with millenials, what do millenials think about x company product…countless studies and research has gone into this generation.

At the Generation Gap Japan event hosted by the BCCJ on June 16th 2015, we looked at and discussed these same millenials, from another perspective. How companies can attract and retain millenials as part of their workforce, differences compared to previous generations (Baby Boomers, Generation X) as well as focusing specifically on the case of Japan.

EY and Hays have both conducted studies on the workforce around the world, and at the BCCJ event we particularly focused on “millenials” or “Generation Y”: those who were born between 1983 ~ 1995. According to the Hays study they make up 21% of the world’s population (20% of US population and 40% of Japan) and grew up in the digital age. Both studies echoed similar sentiments.

Flexible Working Hours Younger workers today are working longer hours with less flexiblitiy. The EY study found that amongst the six reasons why millennials quit their jobs, three of these reasons were related to lack of flexibility. One of the reasons why millenials place such stress on flexibility may be due to the fact that GenY workers are more likely to be a part of a dual-work couple, compared to older generations.

Diversity Diversity improves responsiveness and adaptability. Businesses are the same as living creatures, we must adapt to change and then we can thrive.

Millenial Women Millenial women are the most ambitious group in the workforce according to EY study, hopefully finds like these will discourage the stereotype of millenials being entitled or difficult to work with.

Japan In Japan, the EY study found that workers have less access to flexibility compared to the other countries in the study, but interestingly the number one reason why Japanese millenials wanted to quit their jobs was due to excessive work hours and lack of mentors/access to role models (in comparison to the other seven countries in the study whose number one reason to quit was stagnant wage growth).

“Reverse Mentoring” A mutually beneficial relationship where a younger employee is paired with an older employee. Not only can the younger person have a role model or someone they can look up to, the older person can also benefit by being exposed to the mindset of a younger employee or contemporary ideas, resulting in a more inclusive atmosphere.

Advice for attracting and retaining GenY workers Money does play an important role for millenials, perhaps as it may be a tangible way for them to measure and see their achievements and success. However Twaronite suggested the importance of offering health and wellness benefits as well as being more results or output focused rather than “face time”. Takai stressed affinity; an increase in social events would be great since, as of now, people are spending more and more time at work.

As part of Generation Y myself, it was refreshing and heartwarming to know that there have been studies made to better understand GenY in the workforce. Anything that crosses generations has its traits and tribulations: different values, mindsets and standards. In the workplace where there are already a variety of dynamics, cross-generational working can be challenging. However ultimately I felt that the wishes and ‘demands’ of Gen Y were not unreasonable or unrealistic, for example flexibility. Perhaps by taking the opinions of GenY into consideration, the working environment could be more innovative, increase productivity and efficiency and overall be beneficial for all, regardless of generation.

Thank you to FEW for the opportunity and to the BCCJ for hosting such a thought-provoking and exciting discussion.

EY Study: “EY Global Generations” (Available in English)
Hays Study: “Gen Y and the World of Work” (Available in English and Japanese)

Further event information and reading list by the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan available at


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