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"Works Index 2020: Five Years of Progress in Japanese Work Life," Reports Recruit Works Institute Based on Nationwide Survey of Japan's Workers

Jul 5, 2021 | Recruit


Shorter working hours, better conditions for non-regular workers, steadier employment for women and seniors 
Primary issues to address encouraging independent study among working adults, heavy workloads, and harassment

The Recruit Works Institute has released the latest Works Index, a publication providing measurements of working life in Japan. The report is based on data from an annual survey tracking the same individual's employment status of some 50,000 workers across Japan. The Institute, part of Recruit Co., Ltd., conducts research on people and organizations, and this year's edition, "Works Index 2020: Five Years of Progress in Japanese Work Life," analyzes changes from 2016 to 2020. It identifies three ways in which working life in Japan is evolving, as well as three issues to address. 

*Access the URL below for detailed survey results (in Japanese). The report also includes an in-depth analysis of the year 2020. an external site

Key takeaways: 4 out of 5 metrics rising; working lifestyles improved; decrease in study and training points to potential issue

The "Works Index" provides five measures on how individual workers are progressing in their careers and their ability to continue working. From 2016 to 2020, four measures (called indexes in the report) increased: job security, living independently, work-life balance, and decent work. Meanwhile, the decline in study and training is one factor portending issues in working lifestyles in 2021 and beyond. To provide a background, the Japanese government's action to change how people work in Japan (often referred to as Work Style Reform) began with the establishment of the Council for the Realization of Work Style Reform in September 2016. This led to the 2018 passage of the Work Style Reform Act. Enforcement has proceeded gradually since 2019. This, coupled with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, has added pressure for both companies and workers to make changes.

Figure 1 – Works Index 2016-2020 Trends


Figure 2 – Works Index 2020


*Point difference from 2016 next to each index

Three ways working life in Japan is evolving, and three issues

The report identifies three ways working life in Japan has evolved and three issues to address.
Three advancements:

  1. Shorter working hours

  2. Better conditions for non-regular workers

  3. Steady employment for women and senior citizens

Three issues:

  1. Stalled progress on independent learning

  2. Less scheduling freedom and heavier workloads

  3. Increasingly evident harassment in the workplace

About Works Index

The Works Index provides insights into what individual working lives are like in Japan. It began with the Recruit Works Institute's development of the proprietary Japanese Panel Study of Employment Dynamics comprised of five barometers, or indexes, considered necessary for individual workers to continue in their jobs. Each index is made up of several indicators. Each year, results related to the indicators in the Japanese Panel Study of Employment Dynamics are converted into numerical values for the indexes, which are presented on a hundred-point scale. A full score of 100 points indicates that individual working lifestyles are ideal in terms of that index.

Works Index: Indexes and Indicators


About The Japanese Panel Study of Employment Dynamics (JPSED)

  • Purpose: The annual survey tracks individuals to study their employment status, income, working conditions, and other circumstances over the prior year. In addition to serving as the data behind the production and publication of the Works Index, the JPSED provides an understanding of how employment in Japan is changing.

  • Target and timing:Conducted every January among men and women age 15 and up across Japan

  • Method: Online monitor survey. Research firm-retained monitors are asked to participate in the survey.

  • Sampling design: Data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications' Labour Force Survey forms the basis for allocating attributes: gender, age group, employment status, geographical block, and academic background. Allocation is designed to reflect the distribution among the entire population. However, the allocation of non-working teenagers and senior citizens age 65 and older is less than that in the general population.

  • Valid responses:A sample of approximately 50,000 responses every year

  • Aggregation method:Since the allocation of non-working teenagers and senior citizens age 65 and older is less than that in the actual population, and fewer responses are received from these groups, the aggregated results are weighted to accurately reflect the general population. After weighting, the results appearing in the report are limited to a sample of respondents aged 15 to 74, excluding students who have not yet become working adults.

For further year-by-year data from the Japanese Panel Study of Employment Dynamics (in Japanese), visit an external site.

Click hereTo an external site to read the original press release.