Ikigai (生き甲斐) is a Japanese word that literally means "reason for being". According to most Western dictionaries, it is described as the driving force that motivates people and gives them a sense of purpose. It is a feeling that usually occurs when people are brace enough to pursue their passions. The term, even though very old, was popularized by psychiatrist Mike Kamiya in 1966.
Ikigai is crucial for many Asian businesses. In oder for the employees to be content and as efficient as possible, corporations must provide them with a driving force, something that demonstrates how important their tasks are and the enormity of their impact. This is beneficial not only for the employees whose mental health is safeguarded but equally for the businesses themselves who increase productivity in an optimal level.
Of course, implementing Ikigai is not as easy as it might sound at first. Considering the fact that Asian corporations most of the time follow a very strict hierarchy and they encourage employees to demonstrate their loyalty by working longer hours, it might be difficult to avoid burnout and give a sense of purpose to monotonous daily tasks.
One way that Ikigai could be implemented is the completion of satisfaction forms and questionnaires both from the employees and the employers. That way, problems can be better identified and solutions that benefit both sides won't be so hard to come up with. Another very good idea would be to rotate the employees in different positions in order for them to discover what they actually like doing within the company and what they are talented at.
In conclusion, everybody deserves the opportunity to follow their passions. That's why companies ought to provide their employees with the means to find theirs and both sides will benefit greatly.
By Maria Zoi Michailidou - Corporate Culture Correspondent at YNBC