90% of Japanese Pet Food Company’s New Employees Quit Within Weeks

90% of Japanese Pet Food Company’s New Employees Quit Within Weeks

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Quitting work as the Inaba cat looks on
Picture: Fast&Slow / PIXTA(ピクスタ)
In Japan, 30% of employees resign from their first jobs. But at Inaba Foods, they're setting new records for attrition. Why were conditions so bad there that 90% of new employees left within weeks?

A major pet food company in Japan is in the spotlight for housing its new hires in what appears to be an old share house. The unwillingness of the company “Empress” to listen to employee feedback led to 90% of its April hires quitting within weeks.

Successful company loses new employees

Inaba Pet Food display from their Web site
Inaba Foods may be pet-friendly but, according to ex-employees, it’s anything but worker-friendly. (Picture: Inaba Foods web site)

Shūkan Bunshun is a Japanese tabloid known for its sensational scoops, such as the 2011 story of Ikeda Daisaku’s (1928-2023) covert hospitalization. It recently shed light on Inaba Foods Co., Ltd. where new employees were resigning one after another.

With an annual turnover of ¥170 billion ($1.1 billion), Inaba Foods is a big player in pet food and canned goods. Its popular cat product “Churu” is a hit among owners as a hand-fed treat for pets.

In stark contrast to its fluffy brand image, Inaba Foods’ accommodation of new hires was so crusty that 90% resigned within weeks of starting this April.

The dealbreaker was their living quarters––which were falling apart.

“The company dorm we were shown was just an old house. We were told to divide into groups of 2 to 4 and live together,” a woman who resigned told Shūkan Bunshun.

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Oppressive top-down culture

According to the site Rouken.com, approximately 8% of Japanese companies have dorms for workers. However, Inaba Foods’ facility in Yui, Shizuoka, stands out. Images from the company website show a retro house at best. Employees say conditions inside were even worse.

After seeing the sharehouse, a new female hire called HR, demanding that the company offer a better alternative. The woman received the same response all employees with complaints get––going against the company is going against yourself.  

“President Yūko is the one calling all the shots. If you go against her, there’s a worse punishment waiting for you,” HR told the woman, who ultimately resigned, Shūkan Bunshun reports.

Yūko Inaba, 54, nicknamed “Empress,” is the wife of official CEO Atsuo Inaba. Shūkan Bunshun obtained an audio recording of Yūko that is convincing evidence supporting the claims against her of being a harassing boss. In part of the recording, Yūko tells an employee, “You’re fatter than I thought.”

More university graduates resigning

Man holding out letter of resignation in Japanese
Picture: keyphoto / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

Against the backdrop of Inaba Foods’ mass leaves, the demand for resignation agencies is on the rise.

Quitting a job can be so overwhelming to do on one’s own. That’s why people hire others to resign on their behalf––a service reminiscent of breakup agencies that deliver heartbreak so that you don’t have to.

According to the Ministry of Labor, about 30% of university graduates resign from their first jobs, a trend that has continued since 2010.

Testimony of clients at resignation agency

This April,  a resignation agency in Tokyo told the national broadcaster NHK that 110 of its 678 cases were from new hires wishing to leave the companies they had just joined that month.  

Those wishing to resign so early gave reasons that highlighted their company’s lack of transparency and rigid rules.

“My work isn’t what I had been told I would do, and I’m now anxious about my career path.”

“Despite being hired as a full-time employee, I’m working as a dispatch.”

“Although outfits and hairstyles were unregulated in the hiring stage, I was banned from the entrance ceremony because I had lighter hair.”

Other testimony revealed harassment as a motivator to quit.  

“I was told abusive things by my boss like ‘you’re useless.'”

“I clocked in 30 minutes early but was told ‘You’re late, new hires need to be here at least an hour early.’ But I was also told that no matter how early I get to work, I wouldn’t be paid extra.”

Sources

「世界の猫を喜ばす」会社は、なぜ日本中の嫌われ者となったのか…いなば食品の炎上が止まらない根本原因. PRESIDENT

「ボロ家報道」「新入社員の大量事態」で大炎上のいなば食品、それでも「不買運動」が盛り上がらない理由。キリンはあれだけ騒がれたのに一体どこに違いが?. 東洋経済

いなば食品、大炎上も「ほぼ沈黙」の戦略的な是非. 東洋経済

「きのう退職届出してきた」入社したばかりの新人社員がなぜ?. NHK

社員に向かって「意外とお腹太ってるね」いなば食品の女帝・稲葉優子会長(54)の“嫌がらせ”肉声《独占入手》. 文春オンライン

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