Senior employee in management position is a freeloader, imposing on my company

Dear Troubleshooter:

I am a female company employee in my 30s. I work in an office with about 100 employees, and I am fed up with a situation where a superior in a management position will never leave the company.

Even though there is a retirement system, this person has stayed on as something like a contract worker. The company’s business situation is not rosy, but this person is highly paid. I think this creates pressure on management. This person doesn’t work much, and I don’t know what the person is doing at work every day. I want to know why this person is not leaving, but I won’t ask because it would make me angrier.

It is younger people who will lead the next generation. I don’t think the working environment will change if senior employees stay for too long. If they get paid simply for being in the office, they are nothing more than freeloaders.

The way I see it, I want to spend time doing what I like after retirement, so, I think this person is wretched and miserable. It is stressful to see them every day. It is also painful to go to the office.

— K, Chiba Prefecture

Dear Ms. K:

There seems to be a typical seniority-based Japanese employment system still in place at your company. I don’t think this is somewhere you, who are highly motivated and truly care about where you work, should be. If you are under stress, I suggest you cut ties with the company quickly and seek a new job, rather than waiting for the company to change.

Given Japan’s current economic situation in which growth has been sluggish as globalization advances, companies now cannot afford to pay high wages to employees who no longer make contributions just because of their past achievements, unlike during the years of rapid growth. Your company has been able to hold on, either because other departments have supported your department, or because your company is able to do business with longtime partners simply from inertia. Either way, such a workplace has no future. However, many young employees remain silent as they think that they will be treated the same way when they get older. Consequently, it is a difficult situation to change.

Of course, with the Japanese practice of hiring new graduates en masse still persisting, changing jobs requires greater effort than hunting for a job as a new graduate. However, it is not only for your sake that I still recommend changing jobs. I believe that if it becomes common for motivated young people, especially women, to leave irrational workplaces and take active roles in new workplaces, this will help revive the Japanese economy. So I’m rooting for you.

— Masahiro Yamada, university professor