Japanese millennials (those born between the late 1980s and early 2000s) have been socially discriminated by older generations for years.
The term used to call the generation equivalent to Gen Y is the “Yutori” generation, a group of people that’s assumed to be “different” as they grew up under a new education approach (now commonly called “Yutori education”) that focused less on the traditional and rigid cramming-centered learning, and instead valued problem-solving and allowing leisure time for kids to explore.
In short, school was more like military service for the older generations while school was more like school for the Yutori generation. Obeying to superiors without questioning was the way to go by default and “people live to work” was the philosophy for the former, but the Yutori generation have more modern values and for them, “people work to live.” Friction between millennials and elders stems from this key difference in thought.
Since the first wave of the Yutori generation started working in the real world around 2010, elder employees and supervisors either struggled or refused to accept these youngsters with an open heart. The Yutori were nagged and criticized whenever they prioritized their interests and family over work, and the term “Yutori” came to carry a negative connotation in the Japanese business world.
But now that society has started to realize that Japan’s lagging behind the world in numerous fronts is at least in part due to much of the older generation’s inability to think critically or creatively, their reluctance in making changes in business to adapt to the current reality, the Yutori generation has a word about the older generations.
PRESIDENT Online interviewed three Yutori generation millennials on their thoughts about working with their elder and confused supervisors.
- Gen Xs harass Millennials for unjust reasons
- Gen X’s career goal is to run and cut the tape
- Gen Xs impose irrelevant values
- The Yutori generation does not do overtime because there’s no use
- “There is no expert of tomorrow, only of yesterday”
Gen Xs harass Millennials for unjust reasons
Businessmen who are bosses of the Yutori generation are mostly Generation Xs. Stories about Xs harassing Yutori are all too common.
Gen Xs would give Yutori employees a hard time for not accepting invitations to go drinking, going home without doing any overtime work – basically not going by their ways of business, which by the way have been proven to be inefficient and obsolete. They would verbally criticize their subordinates by telling them “You are so Yutori.”
They wrongfully think that the educational standards of Japan declined due to us Yutori kids not studying as hard as the older generations did. To that, I’d like to say “Your generation is the one who implemented Yutori education onto us. Who are you to make fun of us? In fact, the education standards improved in our generation. Society letting Gen Xs get away with discriminating us on no just grounds is unacceptable.Source: ゆとり世代”オジサンとは人生の目的違う”
Gen X’s career goal is to run and cut the tape
It is said that Japanese Millennials will not be able to receive any pension upon reaching retirement age (which has already been extended by 5 years and will most likely be further extended) due to the rise in the elderly population and the drop in births.
Many among the young generations claim they cannot afford to start a family and have kids because of their low pay, which is a product of the economic downturn in the 1990s and 2009. Therefore, there is an unstoppable downward spiral in terms of invigorating the Japanese population. Not many are expecting the pension system to last long.
But Gen Xs can cut the tape at the finish line before pensions go out of order. Us Yutori businesspeople know there’s trouble ahead and that’s why we are trying to innovate in our jobs. However the older generations just don’t carry that sense of crisis. It seems like they care zilch about what would happen after they retire. It’s here that we feel a great gap.Source: ゆとり世代”オジサンとは人生の目的違う”
Gen Xs impose irrelevant values
Yutori employees don’t listen to their bosses. The interviewees had an explanation to this:
Our supervisors keep bringing up their success stories that were only relevant in times of fast economic growth. They say things without considering the reality we are all in. Take a look at yourself in the mirror and see if anyone would want to respect you. Your way of life is outrageously boring and that’s why the Yutori generation does not listen to you.Source: ゆとり世代”オジサンとは人生の目的違う”
The Yutori generation does not do overtime because there’s no use
Dr. Ichiyo Matsuzaki of Tsukuba University points out that during Japan’s economic boom until the end of the 1980s, putting in long hours itself was what guaranteed raises and promotions. However after the economic bubble bursted, the Yutori generation saw their parents working hard for virtually nothing – their living standards generally did not improve despite working hard for it.
So it’s no surprise that the Yutori generation considers work as nothing more than a day job – not something you sacrifice your life for. Theses young Japanese businesspeople have shifted their work ethics towards a more western one.
“There is no expert of tomorrow, only of yesterday”
Jack Ma of Alibaba says “There is no expert of tomorrow, only of yesterday.” As a personal opinion, these are exactly the words Millennials should shove back into their boss’s faces and tell them that their titles don’t impress us anymore. Not gaining respect from the Yutori generation suggests they are failing to adapt to the new world.
Millennials are forced to constantly reeducate and reinvent themselves in order to survive, and there are always immense more opportunities outside the company that we feel we must expose ourselves to, again to survive and live a happy life. Work life is significantly less significant than it was in the old days.
To be fair to the Japanese Gen Xs, they act the way they do simply because they were trained to by their superiors once upon a time. To them, their way is the only way they know.
However the keener Gen Xs have looked at themselves in the mirror and made adjustments, thereby maintaining a strong followership even from the Yutori generation. Those Gen Xs who feel disrespected by their subordinates need to learn to change. They need to learn another language. They need to learn to program.
They need to go through the same hardships the Yutori are facing, if they don’t want to end their careers being considered foes of our current society.