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Culture Shock For Japanese Expats

Want to utilize the insights of international business professionals from Japan? Globalizing your business or hiring employees from abroad can be smart business moves. But these business changes can also bring unexpected conflicts if cultural workplace differences aren’t first acknowledged. Here are some common cultural differences that Japanese business professionals often note between working in their home country and abroad.

Culture Shock For Japanese Expats

Clashes about Cleanliness

Japanese professionals working abroad often cite surprise at the level of filth that’s considered acceptable in other countries compared to Japan. Excitement over working abroad can quickly turn when Japanese business professionals encounter dirty streets, unkempt subway stations and more in international cities.

If your company is hoping to hire a professional from Japan, providing information regarding your city and how it varies on this front from the Japanese professional’s hometown may be beneficial. Creating a brief video that shows a few key points throughout your city may help the Japanese professional learn what to expect.

Varied Workday Expectations

In Japan, long work days and overtime are the norms. This standard varies between businesses in America, but overall, workdays aren’t as long. This difference in workplace standards can cause conflicts between employees in international companies.

A business professional from Japan may view an American worker as being lazy for leaving at the top of the 5 o’clock hour. On the flipside, the American worker may see the Japanese worker as an overachiever for staying late each workday. Managers must provide training on these cultural differences to prevent workplace conflicts and also set the standard for expected workday lengths for all employees.

To Apologize or Not

According to What Surprises Japanese People Working in the West, a significant cultural difference between Japanese and American professionals is apologizing. In Japan, apologizing for business mistakes is the norm. Whereas, apologies from companies in America related to workplace accidents and other business mishaps are less frequent.

Recognizing this cultural difference is essential as your business begins working with professionals from Japan. Rather than viewing apologies as signs of weakness, research this Japanese cultural norm and make it the standard during your interactions with Japanese business professionals.

Differences in Formalities

In American companies, you’ll almost always hear employees speaking to upper management on a first name basis. In Japan, this level of informality is much less common. Avoid conflicts related to this cultural difference in formalities by training employees on this topic. This training can ease the shock of any Japanese business professionals working for your company regarding the informal manner with which they’re addressed by other employees and vice versa.

In today’s connected world, business owners must recognize cultural differences among employees and customers from different countries. By understanding workplace culture differences between countries, you can reduce conflicts and set your business up for international success.

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