Predictors of subjective wellbeing at work for regular employees in Japan




Japan has been experiencing a long decline in its workforce. Companies in Japan are eager to retain their existing employees and diversify their recruitment. Employees with long-term and open-ended employment are also switching companies at a greater rate. Consequently, Japanese firms have started paying attention to employee subjective wellbeing, now recognized as a source of higher job performance. This study empirically explores the predictors of subjective wellbeing at work for Japanese regular employees beyond those already identified in Europe and U.S.-centric research. We applied a two-stage design, consisting of interviews and a questionnaire survey to identify those factors that promote subjective wellbeing in Japanese corporations where long-time employment and group cohesiveness and achievement are valued over individual achievement. We identified eight factors affecting subjective wellbeing at work for Japanese regular employees: meaningful work, relationships, culture, workspace, evaluation, time off, financial benefits, and diversity at work. Consequent regression analyses highlighted the discriminant importance of work relationships, evaluation, diversity, workspace, and meaningful work. Eudaimonic and hedonic happiness were found to be caused by different factors. As expected, meaningful work led to eudaimonic satisfaction of life at work in Japan. In contrast hedonic happiness was affected by factors external to work itself, such as work relationships, work evaluation and diversity. Interestingly, diversity at work was found to have an ambivalent effect as it was related to both positive and negative affects at work. These findings will help Japanese companies create a work environment that can maximize regular employees’ wellbeing, job performance, and retention.


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Author Biographies

Remy Magnier-Watanabe, University of Tsukuba

Graduate School of Business Sciences

Associate Professor

Caroline Benton, University of Tsukuba

Graduate School of Business Sciences


Philippe Orsini, Nihon University

Faculty of Economics


Toru Uchida, Niigata University of International and Information Studies

Faculty of Information Studies