And not because they’re all cute like Pikachu.
The Japanese working world is often labeled a conformist place. But while it may appear that way to outside observers, the truth is that just like with any slice of society, its youngest members differ from their elders in a number of ways, which means that you can find generation gaps among the employees at a Japanese company just as surely as you can among the members of a Japanese family.
In Japan, the business year begins in April, which is also when new hires start working. To help existing employees and managers know what to expect from their new coworkers, every year the Japan Productivity Center research institution releases a brief bulletin on the characteristics of the incoming members of the workforce, and for 2017 the organization has dubbed them the “Character-Catching Game Types.”
In other words, the Japan Productivity Center is calling the Class of 2017 the Class of Pokémon GO.
While the JPC doesn’t specifically mention the title of the smash-hit Pocket Monster-hunting smartphone game, it’s pretty clear that’s what it’s referring to in its announcement, which included:
“Because there were many characters (job openings) this year, it was relatively easy for them to capture one (secure a job). But on the other hand, it was difficult to catch rare characters (first-rate companies). To help them catch rare characters, they made full use of Internet and social media research, constantly on the move with smartphone in hand [as they made their way from one recruiting session to the next].”
The JPC also drew some parallels to Pokémon GO in highlighting issues that managers will have to be aware of. There’s a possibility of their early passion for their new jobs giving way to boredom, mirroring the drop-off in enthusiasm some felt for Pokémon GO after the novelty wore off. Also, much like how Pokémon GO can quickly drain a phone’s battery, the JPB warned managers to be careful not to overwork their new employees, and to be conscious of their desire for a certain measure of work-life balance. Otherwise, they could end up with a crop of prematurely burned-out young men and women who’ll be unable to function productively and might decide they’d rather look for a different job elsewhere.
Still, the description of the Character-Catching Game Types ends on a positive note. “Like a game that’s being enjoyed all over the world,” it concludes, “we hope that they’ll be able to make contributions that go beyond borders, and have a positive effect all over the world.”
Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’d describe his own working style as “Team-Based 2-D Fighting Game Type.”