gaijin at a japanese company: winter bonus
Friday is already one of the best days, but this week it became even better. The reason? The 2005 Winter Bonus has arrived (just like Beaujolais Nouveau)!
In Japan, it is customary for companies to pay substantial bonuses to their employees twice a year, one in June and the other one in December. According to an interim report released on October 26 by the "Nippon Keidanren" (the Japan Business Federation), based on a survey of 288 large enterprises, the 2005 winter bonus average will be 863,577 yen or a 5.08% increase compared to last year.
Now don't think that your bonus simply shows up in your bank account; there is a whole ceremony for this: on Friday morning, together with my colleagues, we line up in one of the larger meeting rooms and listen to a speech given by the Group Manager, who thanks us for our hard work in the past half-year. After that we are called - one by one - to the front of the meeting room, the GM hands us a bonus payment slip, bows - slightly, we bow - deeper.
Once everybody has been called, I assume the meeting to be finished soon; however, suddenly there is one small reminder announced: all employees of manager level or higher are required to spend at least 200,000 yen of our winter bonus on the purchase of our company's product during this Christmas shopping season.
And because commands need to controlled, we are instructed to hand-over receipts confirming our purchase to HR before the end of January. Can't imagine this happening in the States....
But then again, I shouldn't really complain; on October 31, the Dai-ichi Life Research Institute,Inc. released its estimates of the average 2005 winter bonus payment by private firms with five or more employees - 437,291 yen - an increase of 1.6 percent from the previous year, but still substantially lower than bonuses at large corporations. It is also estimated that payments to civil servants would average 654,716 yen, an increase of 0.5 percent over the same period.
So all in all, we are still doing better...and we'll have a lot of new stuff around the house comes January!