Horror stories in the workplace in Japan don’t have much to do with ghosts or monsters, well at least of the supernatural kind. “Powerharassment” has become the number one stressor for employees nowadays, with bosses who physically and emotionally abuse their employees to get them to do their job properly, or worse, just for the sake of abusing their power.
One 34-year-old man related the story of how his boss forced him to dance naked in front of his co-workers whenever he was not able to get sales for their copier machines. The boss even one time duct taped his hands to the phone just so he will continue doing cold calls until he was able to make a few sales. “We were not treated as human beings unless we achieved sales quotas (of four to 10 units a month),” he shared. But what’s also surprising is that he managed to stay in that job for five years, only because he thought that was the “normal” way that all bosses behaved. He finally had to quit because he suffered from chronic headaches due to overworking and the stress that came from his boss’ abuse.
According to Japan’s Ministry of Labor, more and more employees are getting stressed from the physical and mental burden that comes from power harassment. In fiscal year 2012, “bullying and harassment” has replaced “dismissal” as the number one category in complaints filed in labor bureaus around the country, with over 50,000 complaints received. According to Masaomi Kaneko, director of Shokuba no Harassment Kenkyujyo (Research institute on workplace harassment), it is such a common practice in most Japanese companies now for bosses to harass employees to perform better, which leads to longer work hours, that eventually turns to stress until the employee quits. With the government vowing to improve corporate practices in the country, this is one area that should be looked into.