5

The company and life

In the last two chapters, I have described C-Life and the career path typically followed by its employees. In the process, we have learned about working life at the company. In this chapter, I examine working conditions in greater depth. What is it actually like to work at C-Life? What kind of hours are worked, and what do employees do in them? How do employees balance work and leisure time, and are they really happy in their work? Why do they work they way they do, and what do they hope to gain from it? In addressing these questions, I look ahead to Chapter 6, where I discuss human relations and the company ethos.


The C-Life employee

H: As to what kind of person C-Life wanted, they want someone who has come in as a fresh graduate, who has been in the training place for a year and has done life insurance sales by going around door-to-door and house-to-house. Someone who has experienced great hardship during the training, and worked hard and studied finance, and then gone into the finance department; that is probably the most ideal type.

The employees devote much thought to the kind of employee that the company is looking for. But despite the ideal, the average employee in C-Life is not of a superhumanly dedicated worker who is prepared to give everything to his company. Rather, he is an average human being making the best of the situation in which he finds himself, looking positively towards finding meaning in his own existence, and doing a certain amount of rationalising about the negative aspects. Much of the individual’s motivation can be explained as an attempt to find and maintain security. Insecurity is an important determiner of behaviour. And the best way to remain secure, as we shall see in the next section, is to attain as much status as possible. Status in the company does not apply only to the employee’s position in the company - it determines his status in life. To gain status and to keep it, most C-Life employees are prepared to work hard.

Insecurity is however, ultimately also an economic threat as well as a psychological one. C-Life employees do not, on the whole, perceive themselves to be well off, because of both the exorbitant cost of living in Japan and the fact that

-102-

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