Boosting productivity by changing the way we work: A look at the third arrow of Abenomics
19 June 2017
By Eve Bentley
As part of the ANZCCJ’s Abenomics event series, we held a lunchtime networking event at the Roppongi Hills Club featuring keynote speech from Gaku Hashimoto, Japanese State Minister for State Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare. Given the complexities of the Japanese social economy, there has been increasing efforts to create innovative solutions from Japanese corporations and the government in order to address these concerns. Exemplifying this, the event featured four panellists from four respective companies in Japan, each addressing the promotion of productivity in the workplace with varying strategies.
Minister Hashimoto outlined a number of measures under the governmental framework towards Japan’s Work Style Reform. Given Japan’s unique demographic context of an aging population and low birth-rate, it is essential for the Japanese government to attempt regulation in some areas in order to facilitate the continuation of productivity and labour participation. Issues that he addressed include those such as overtime work, fairness in salaries for regular and non-regular workers and balancing childcare to encourage men to take a greater role in parenting, as well as encouraging the elderly and women greater flexibility and access in workplace opportunities. These issues are inherently complex, and the government relies on corporations to embrace and include these in their operations. As such, our panellists gave a number of highly relevant examples of boosting productivity through addressing the issues Hashimoto discussed, which in turn provided inspiration to the many guests representing a number of corporate spheres in Japan.
Our panellists for this instalment of the Abenomics series included; Mr Senri Tanida, President of Tanita Corporation, Mr Taku Nishimura, President of SOW Experience, Ms Shizuka Aone, Head of Corporate Affairs at Lendlease Japan and finally Mr Laurent Gachet, CEO of Edenred Japan.
Tanita Corporation – a new ANZCCJ member, monitors its employees’ health and wellbeing through the use of nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Improving productivity through this monitoring system has allowed for Tanita to reduce its employee’s average BMI’s to healthy levels, and their work has been highlighted in two governmental white papers. Mr. Nishimura, of SOW experience, explained the benefits of allowing employees to bring their children to work with them, and provide flexible ways for women to work. Creating such an environment has clear benefits to both employers and employees, and has been successful in allowing companies to maintain their employees for the longer term.
Ms. Aone, from Lendlease Japan, detailed the flexible working practices which have been adopted at Lendlease, and encourage a workplace that meet’s all stakeholder’s expectations, and is a good environment to work in. Their working hour policy is from 7am to 10pm, as opposed to the regular working day hours of 9am to 5.30pm, as well as no work on weekends. Whilst this may resemble only a slight change, it is clear that in Japan, working hours have significant impact. This policy by Lendlease encourages diversity, inclusion and ensures that employees are mindful of work life balance. Lastly, Mr Gachet, of Edenred Japan explained the benefits for corporations, both large and small-medium enterprises, of giving employees real purchasing power through their meal card allowance system. For many employees, the money allocated to them normally is not enough to pay for sufficient meals. As such, Edenred’s system demonstrates that over 99% of card funds are utilised at the cooperating restaurant and convenience stores, and in Japan, providing meals can prove to be a valuable workplace strategy in terms of supporting the employees.
As always, the Panel was concluded with a lively Q&A session, featuring questions to Minister Hashimoto and the other speakers. In conclusion, ANZCCJ would like to acknowledge and thank Mr Jakob Edberg, President and CEO, GR Japan for his moderating of this event and Tanita Corporation for their kind gifts to all of our guests.