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SALARY MAN: Lessons Teens and Young Adults can learn about Work, Money & Family from the Japanese model Karōshi

‘Salary man’ is a Japanese model that is used to describe a salaried worker, he is a suit-and-tie worker who works at a desk in the large bureaucracy of Corporations or government offices and, stereo-typically, shun blue-collar jobs.

They built this model after the war. Big corporations could recruit young people straight from university for white-collar jobs. These positions consisted at the level of employees and non-managerial executives who would join the company and build their careers. 

The salary-man’s working hours are known to be long and more. Specifically, he shows a sense of devotion and commitment to the organisation where he works.

According to the model, the salary-man is typically offered employment after graduating from college and stays with the corporation for the duration of his career with very minimal possibilities of dismissal.

In return, the worker is supposed to give his complete loyalty to the company over any other companies or even his social life. As he repeatedly comes home in the wee hours of the night and has just enough energy to go to bed before returning to the office early the next morning.

Job satisfaction is key to many people nowadays, more so for millennial. No matter how great the company may be or how persuasive the recruiters are, teens and young adults look for different factors in a job. Obviously, salary is important.

 But for millennial, there are many other aspects of significance just as much when it comes to accepting a job offer. If they aren’t happy with what they are getting from their job or the company, they are likely to leave or not even accept the offer in the first place.

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In conservative Japanese culture, most youthful men aspire to become salary-men in their entire working life, they consider those who do not take this career path as living with a stigma and less prestige.

From this Japanese model “salary-man”, teens and young adults can learn the following lessons about Work, Money & Family:

White-collar job should not be expected to be the only career choice.

People throughout the world consider jobs to be more than a source of income. Jobs contribute to an individual’s satisfaction with life, also in society, jobs say something about an individual’s place and identity.

Most people prefer White-collar jobs to other types of jobs, including jobs in farming and household enterprises. White-collar jobs are perceived to be more lucrative and secure; they also have a higher status. 

This is only true if job quality is ample. This includes: adequate earnings, job security and safe working environments.

But for the few who questioned the status quo and employed themselves says an unconventional story. Most employed people believe that self-employment can give somebody good income, status, and autonomy. 

Self-employed people are significantly considered happier than people working in white-collar jobs. Self-employment provides freedom and control, which significantly boost happiness and work satisfaction.

Total dependence on employer & lack of individuality

Most people employed in white collar jobs are reliant on their employer for their income, and without which they would not be able to meet the expenses of daily living.

Most corporations offer their employee financial incentives so that they don’t leave. For instance, companies may offer their employees stock options that bestow several years down the road, or policies that require departing workers to return a portion of their bonuses. 

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These Golden handcuffs are the financial security, comfort and safety of high-paying jobs that most people go after while searching for better employment.

At the end of the day, you find that most of these jobs are unfulfilling in some way or all ways; but they keep the employees bound to their desks and offices because they become dependent on their employer or scared to leave.

Lack of social life & work becomes a lifelong commitment

Employees with a heavy workload find it difficult to balance between work and life. It’s very stressful attempting to manage relationships and family responsibilities, while making time for yourself as well.

Unfortunately, white-collar job employees experiencing poor work-life balance may not even realise it’s happening. Because they are too submerged by the tasks presented in their daily roles. 

Dedicating too much time to work without balancing with personal life can lead to burnout. Most employed people struggle to maintain a work-life balance. The adverse effects of a burnout impact every area of your life, including your personal and social life.

According to a research paper (Richman et al., 2006) Higher rates of job dissatisfaction and job-related stress have been observed in workers with more frequent overtime requirements, little managerial support, and less work flexibility.

Because of busy work schedules, the white-collar employee does not have time to raise a family and his work becomes a lifelong commitment. It becomes a problem for a salary-man to balance personal life, professional life, and family life.

Key Takeaway. 

There are a lot of factors that influence people to accept the right job. Of course, there’s company, location, timing, title and salary  

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Teens and youthful adults can learn from a salary-man, there is more to a career than just its salary. Too many employees are tired zombies going to work. Working non-stop, with limited sleep and not being able to see family can cause both mental and physical issues. Make sure you enjoy some social life interlude and create a good work-life balance.


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